Green Bird

It's not easy bein' awesome.

I’ve always liked the song “Bein’ Green.” Kermit sings it. Ray Charles sings it. Two musical giants right there. Well, one musical giant and a musical frog. Still, impressive. But the thing I love about the song is that it’s not just a Muppet kids song, it’s a song for people who are different. I’ve always suspected I was different. This has been substantiated many times over through peculiar and suspicious glances in my general direction and the occasional direct statement of fact.

“Adam. You’re weird/different/strange/odd/bizarre/you’re own person.” Ah, Thanksgiving.

But it’s also about people who blend in with ordinary stuff. It’s not just that we’re different from other people, it’s that we grow up as background scenery. We’re not Zach Galifianakis. We’re not Ben Stiller. We’re one of two ferns on the interview set.

At the bridge, the song transitions from bemoaning the familiar, nondescript nature of greenness to celebrating its vibrancy, grandeur, and overall sparkliness. I guess I can identify with both blending and sticking out like a green thumb. But I’ve never felt so close to the song as I did when I heard Andrew Bird’s version, a track off the Green Album (full of Muppets songs and nostalgia and wonderful artists such as Weezer, My Morning Jacket, and Rachael Yamagata). Give it a listen. You won’t be disappointed.

Wait, you were disappointed? Pardon my French.

Couldn’t listen because of flash restraints? I understand. Flash isn’t for everyone. Here’s something more YouTubular:

Limerick Idol

Every Thursday I go bowling. I’m not very good, although I did bowl a 201 last night. But, for frame of reference, it was my best game ever by a lot. Since I bowl every Thursday, I always miss the American Idol results. I can’t quit watching (and blogging about) American Idol, but I’ve always pretty much detested the results shows. I just want to know who won.

So every week I ask my twitter friends to DM me the results after the show is over. In return I offer eternal friendship, praise, devotion. This week the offer was a limerick for anyone who would let me know what happened. A bunch of people let me know what happened. Here are their limericks:

Emily (@ek_go on her birthday, no less)
There once was a girl on her birthday
Who wondered how much would her mirth weigh?
She put it on scales,
And it outweighed six whales,
So she partied like crazy ’til Earth Day

Justin (@bito31)
There once was an hombre named Justin.
For a World Series win, he was lustin’.
He couldn’t quite quit it,
But if the Cubs ever did it,
Then his head just might end up combustin’.

Katy (@swedishpancake)
There once was a pancake from Sweden
That looked far too sweet to be eaten.
It was whipped up by fairies
With fresh lingonberries,
So save it for Katy or get beaten.

Amy (@AmyL36)
I wanted an update on Idol,
Because knowing who’s booted is vital.
Amy graciously told
While I tweeted and bowled,
Hence this lim’rick to which she’s entitled.

Anthony (@Tony2358)
In Brookfield there lives this dude Tony,
Who hates everyone with a pony.
It’s a Seinfeld joke, get it?
If you don’t, just forget it.
Do you smell what I’m cookin’, Jabroni?

I was really running out of ideas near the end. I’m thankful for everyone’s help, but I’m also pretty glad more people didn’t take me up on the offer.

I Should Be Watching Idol

A lot of people ask me if I’m going to keep doing American Idol recaps. (And when I say, “a lot,” I mean it has happened before.) So if you are one of the many several two unspecified quantity of people banging down my virtual doors at a shot to see what I have to say about Idol, today, you should knock somewhere else.

Specifically, you should head on over to my friend Beth’s place,, where Beth and I have completed our first tag-team American Idol recap. It’s pretty fantastic if I do say so myself. If you like my recaps, you’ll love Beth’s take on . . . well, I think you’ll love Beth’s take on just about everything. You’ll love her photography, too . . . this is a promise. (If you don’t like falling in love with pictures, don’t go to her site, it will mess you up.) Essentially, if you don’t already (i.e. you don’t know her) you’re going to love Beth once you get to meet her, you know, at her house of blog.

If you’re wondering if I’ll continue to do recaps here, the answer is . . . blowing in the wind. I think I’m going to try something a little different this year. Doing recaps this early is new for me, so you’re already getting extra recappage. But once the top 24ish field materializes, I’m going to recap in a new way that I think you’ll love. I could speak more confidently about this if I was 100% sure what it was, but trust me, it’s going to be not the worst thing ever.

American J-Lo

I’m more than a little depressed and disappointed that the only thing that can animate this blog from dormancy is American Idol. Seriously, at the end of last season I didn’t even like this show and I didn’t really like myself for ever having watched it. Any chance of retaining me as a viewer was obliterated when Fox announced Steven Tyler and J-Lo would be replacing Simon and the other non-Randy judges.

That’s it. The show’s over. I figured it would get canceled out of general hilarious outrage. Then I could finally go back to hitting you with the occasional anecdote about my kids or thoughts on baked goods and whatever.

Then came the commercials. Randy Jackson. Steven Tyler. And J-Lo. I realized that a) they really are going through with this and b) I like looking at J-Lo. I don’t mean that in a Steven-Tyler-likes-looking-at-slender-young-girls kind of way, I just don’t object to the sight of Jennifer Lopez, okay? Shut up.

Suddenly it dawned on me that my American Idol viewing had done a Brett Favre. I mean come back from retirement. My American Idol viewing doesn’t take pictures of its junk. It doesn’t limp off the field after interceptions. It doesn’t . . . you know what, this metaphor isn’t helping. I realized I wouldn’t be able to stop watching AI just yet, okay? Shut up.

So there it is. Back on my TV. There are people who look like Oompa Loompas and who want to be Miley Cyrus and who sound like jake breaks. I don’t care. There’s still the occasional emotionally manipulative story and three or four people who can sing. And J-Lo. I’m watching it.

Shut up.

Idol Eyes: Top 3

Mighty Casey has . . . 

Three left. Penultimate show. We’re getting short and sweet here.

Casey James
Okay, It’s Alright With Me
At this point, the judges are completely extraneous. I mean, they are always kind of needless on this show because, aside from the one save they get to use, they have no vote. I don’t really think that many people take the judges’ feedback into account when they vote other than as a motivator when they disagree with the reviews. I think they might be right that the song was forgettable, and it fizzled out in a way that left the audience unaware of their cue to clap. But I did think the song suited Casey. It sounded cool. It wasn’t annoying.

Kara doesn’t read my blog, because she thinks Casey’s audience is women and girls. That’s cool. Casey sounds like he’s intentionally trying not to sound like John Mayer. Unfortunately, it very closely resembled Mayer’s live performances: stilted, detached, and full of weird guitar faces. I wanted the song to be over very shortly after it started. Things don’t look good for Casey. Casey, on the other hand . . .

Crystal Bowersox
Come to My Window
This was a much bigger misstep than what Casey did. Crystal finally exposed herself as a mini-version of Melissa Etheridge. But she is, compared to the original, definitely mini. She doesn’t have Etheridgian power, and all that song did was make the gap all the clearer for us. Not good. Not awful, but nothing to remember.

Maybe I’m Amazed
Crystal has sung two of my favorite sing-along songs this year: “Midnight Train to Georgia,” and this. She did much better with Gladys. The pace of the song was all wrong. I’m not sure she got the lyrics right, and her transition into falsetto was iffy at best. That just doesn’t make me want to vote for her. Crystal has backed into the finale.

Lee DeWyze
Simple Man
Lee seems to understand increasingly well what it means to build toward a climactic moment in a song, and he did that pretty well on this song. He also took a big vocal risk at said climactic moment and pulled it off pretty well. I really didn’t expect this much from Lee. He’s having a David Cook type season with less artistry and more aw shucks.

He didn’t sing it as a polka? Darn. No bagpipes? Oh, but hey, the Pointer Sisters, the Pips, the Winans, and Whitney Houston circa ’97. That was all kinds of wow. Probably the most explosive performance of that song I’ve heard. I don’t know if explosive is what everyone wants out of that song, but it was pretty much vocal C4.

Idol Eyes: the Final Four

Batman Forever. Free Willy. The Graduate. Caddyshack. The movies that changed our lives.

I’m so ready for this season to be over. It hasn’t been the worst bunch of singers ever, but it’s hard to remember many of the performances. But we’re at the point in the show when they have to do something special to advance. Unless, you know, they all keep serving up the mediocre stuff. Hopefully Jamie Foxx can repeat his inspiring mentor work from last season, but the summer-camp t-shirt gimmick doesn’t fill me with excitement.

Lee DeWyze
You ain’t never gonna win nothing singing Seal. You ain’t never gonna win nothing singing songs from the Batman soundtracks. And you ain’t never gonna win nothing singing out of tune. That was not good. It ended well, but mostly I was just glad that it ended. Oh dear, Lee, it’s a bad time to lay your first real dud.

Michael Lynche
The Michael Jackson songbook is a lot more impressive than Seal, but we just can’t leave the ocean mammals or the cheesy 90s movies behind. Free Willy? That said, I love this song (big shocker) but not the performance. It wasn’t bad. He sang well. But it was very . . . yawny.

Lee & Crystal
“Falling Slowly” is pretty much the perfect song for these two. I don’t know how much this duet business will count in people’s minds and phoning habits, but if it carries any weight that’s real good news for the both of them. That was cool.

Casey James
The I less-than-three Casey jokes pretty much write themselves at this point as he sings the signature song from The Graduate, so let’s just sail right past all of them. Strictly musically speaking, he pretty much kicked the lemonhead out of that Simon & Garfunkel tune, and I genuinely loved it. But it wasn’t the biggest vocal challenge in the world, which is kind of a big deal at this juncture. Not a big song. Not a big guitar. But it was a great song.

Crystal Bowersox
Caddyshack? Tell me Crystal isn’t pinning her American Idol hopes on Kenny Loggins. Please. Tell me that, people. Tell me she isn’t taking on the king of the soundtracks. . . . I’m waiting. Well, the song has started. “I’m Alright” is playing, and it’s coming from the mild rasp of Crystal’s larynx, so I have to assume there are no announcements coming from you. Oh, hey, she sounded good. Great, actually. But that was Caddyshack. Cinderella story, out of nowhere? Hmm . . .

Casey & Mike
Casey singing Bryan Adams is right down his alley. Michael’s in a completely different alley, so it was pretty darn surprising to see the intersection of their disparate alleys work so well. It was pretty cool. Not mind-blowing, but cool.

I have no idea who’s going home, so I didn’t even bother doing odds for them. Gun to my head, I’d say Mike, but all of them deserve to advance yet none of them have done so well as to shock me by their dismissals.

Idol (Old Blue) Eyes

Might be the end of the line for Casey’s choo-choo of soft-focus glory.

Harry Connick Jr. might be the coolest guy alive. But Harry, like Sinatra was to a greater degree, is inimitable. So doing the songs of Sinatra is the artistic equivalent of what a vocal challenge it would be to have Whitney Houston night. Having him arrange the songs and performing behind them is awesome, but I’m not optimistic (partially because Jim warned me in advance) that they’ll be able to pull it off.

Still, this show is supposed to reveal who’s got it and who doesn’t. This should be informative if not entertaining.

Aaron Kelly
Aaron looks good dressed like a grown up. (When a critique starts with comments on your looks, AI performers, you shouldn’t take that as a good sign, but this time it’s not all bad.) I gotta say, the look helped sell the sound. The song exposed Aaron’s weaknesses, most notably his lack of confidence, but I think it also revealed a lot of potential. The big problem though is that the top 5 isn’t about potential; you’re supposed to have realized it by now.
Odds of Going Home: 5 to 1

Casey James
Casey started shaky, finished strong. He was nowhere near as bad as the judges made it sound. To me, it sounded like Casey was just a few rehearsals away from perfecting that song, but according to Harry he was a rehearsal too early with his best work.
Odds of Going Home: 4 to 1

Crystal Bowersox
Crystal looked good too. Kara liked Crystal’s phrasing, which was the very worst part of this performance. She was lost under the beat, she swallowed the key words in every phrase, and she lacked any lyrical continuity whatsoever. Crystal’s still great, but that wasn’t.
Odds of Going Home: 6 to 1

Michael Lynche
“The Way You Look Tonight,” really is the perfect song. Michael didn’t sing it perfectly, but he did it very well. He’s also the very coolest of the performers, as Ellen alluded to it. And he wore the heck out of that hat. This week really played into Mike’s giant hands, because this is not completely his sound, but it’s closer for him than anybody. Except . . .
Odds of Going Home: 5 to 1

Lee DeWyze
Lee killed it. He really did. That drew applause from my wife. It sounded like if Michael Buble had testosterone. His “That’s Life” just sounded real and natural and cool. The scary thing is, he’s probably gotten better every week, which is a very bad sign for everybody else.
Odds of Going Home: Daughtry to 1

Now I’m nervous.

Idol Eyes: Shania Week

Siobhan went to the yell one too many times.

Casey James and Shania Twain on the same screen? That’s a whole lot of beautiful, people. Give me a moment to prepare . . .

In the meantime, I just want to say that after a couple weeks of reflection (and a sudden reminder from Ms. Twain) that Simon was dead-on with his statement that Katie should have been singing country. Whether it’s right for her or not, who knows, but there is no one for country fans to vote for on this season, and Katie could have owned that segment.

Okay, I’m ready.

Lee DeWyze
Still the One
Shania gave Lee some great advice, although it forced him to expose a weak spot in his repertoire: the soft and slow vibe. Lee doesn’t have a middle ground between throaty emotional outburst and quiet contemplation. The first few bars were sleepy and sloppy, but once he opened up the song it sounded great. For the most part. Lee’ definitely come the farthest, although I still wonder what Alex Lambert could have been had America the slightest clue about who belonged in the top 12. Oh well.
Odds of Going Home: 9 to 1

Michael Lynche
It Only Hurts When I Breathe
Lee could learn a lot from Michael, because he lives in the soft, slow, and tender vibe. I don’t recall ever hearing this song, but I know it didn’t sound quite like this. Michael is probably the best of the group at putting his signature on a song. It’s weird, I think Michael is one of the best performers on the show, but I don’t know if he has a chance of winning this thing OR succeeding in the business. Then again, he could be the next Jennifer Hudson, I don’t know. I like the guy, though. I really like him.
Odds of Going Home: 6 to 1

Casey James
There was a brief moment, maybe 5 or 6 notes out of the mentor clip, when Casey and Shania harmonized together, and that got me a little excited. Casey’s performance did that too. Wow. I think Shania absolutely shot a bullseye through Casey’s psyche, and the truth of what she said came through in the song. He seemed like that guy who was a little worried the only reason he’s in this thing has been his looks. And he finally decided to express himself musically. And also looked amazing. Moving on . . .
Odds of Going Home: 8 to 1

Crystal Bowersox
No One Needs to Know
The biggest shock of this one is the song choice. It’s sort of a guilty pleasure of mine, but I didn’t peg Crystal as the “guilty pleasure song” kind of girl. It seems too light and fluffy for her. But I’m glad she’s taking on new things. I like that she made a personal statement in an Idol performance. I like that she played with the song so much almost to the point of improvisation. I’m just a little worried she’s about to get Daughtried.
Odds of Going Home: hmm . . . I don’t want to say. 7 to 1

Aaron Kelly
You Got a Way
Shania is a really good mentor. I mean, she’s one of the all-time hit machines in music history, so I shouldn’t be surprised. But up to this point all the singers clearly belong here. Aaron is just on a lower tier. But holy crap, he was leagues better than he’s ever been. The teeny boppers who’ve been voting this kid through every week won’t have to look back in shame upon their actions tonight.
Odds of Going Home: 6 to 1. Crazy, I know.

Siobhan Magnus
Any Man of Mine
Siobhan doing a straight-up rendition of Shania’s original hit. All she did was add a high note and a Broadway finale. For me, it was an absolute Twain wreck (blame Ellen for that pun). Her rhythm was off. Her delivery was as bland and soft as unsalted butter. The whole thing was a syncopative mess. (I was going to say syncopatory, but it turns out that’s not an actual word. Neither is syncopatorial. They are both such non-words that googling them results in zero results, which means this page should be the only result you’ll find. If you need a one-hit google term, you’re welcome.) They’ll go back and watch this and see what Shania saw: it was bad.
Odds of Going Home: 2 to 1.

Idol Eyes: Idol Gives Up

It hurts to hear, doesn’t it, Tim?

Alicia Keys mentors the final 7 in the ways of inspirational, off-pitch singing. I can’t wait. So I won’t.

Casey James
“Don’t Stop Thinkin’ About Tomorrow,” complete with Huey Lewissian grit, Marty McFlyesque guitar solos, and Man-Barbie dreaminess. It started weak and pitchy and just fizzled out in a whimpering pile of yeah-yeah-yeah’s. Inspire-o-meter: 5
Odds of Going Home: a very sad 4 to 1

Lee DeWyze
The unpolished throaty wailer takes on a really curious choice of song from a clean-cut perfectionist of a musician, Paul Simon. “The Boxer” is not what I think of when the Inspirational genre gets discussed, but he did alright with it. I kind of wished he had replaced the lai-la-lai’s with “Lee DeWyze, Lee DeWyze, Lee-Lee DeWyze,” but he probably made the right call. Inspire-o-meter: 7
Odds of Going Home: 13 to 1

Tim Urban
Is Tim going to give the best performance of Inspiration Week? Oh . . . no, no, not at all. I don’t know what exactly you said to him, Alicia, but I think it may have been just the thing to get rid of this kid. His rendition of that silly little Goo Goo Dolls song was definitely not goo-good. Two words: Sha. Ky. Inspire-o-meter: the singing is a 2, but the fact that he is very likely going home is a 10.
Odds of Going Home: 3 to 1

Aaron Kelly
Aaron < R. in the battle of the Kellies. When I hear a 16 year old is taking on R. Kelly, I get a bad case of the heebie jeebies, I’m not gonna lie. Aaron’s singing didn’t help. If you believe it, you can achieve it? Hmm . . . I don’t know how well you believed it. The judges, at this point, are trying to salvage the integrity of the show by being nice to these people, but this season is a disaster. Inspire-o-meter: 4
Odds of Going Home: Justin Bieber to Reality

Siobhan Magnus
Mariah and Whitney in one song? I hope you brought your claws, Siobhan, because one of those two ladies is bound to rush the stage and Kanye you into next week. All joking aside, this was a terrible song choice and a pretty boring performance. Without the intrigue of hitting the high notes, the song is completely without quirk, so Little Miss Quirky really should have picked something else and skipped the NyQuil bottle I have to assume she chugged before hitting the stage. Although it is pretty hilarious to say Siobhan is being too dramatic on Inspiration Night. Inspire-o-meter: 4
Odds of Going Home: 4 to 1

Michael Lynche
Remember when Chad Kroeger took an artistic break from the indie/alt-rock shackles of Nickelback and really let the art of Spider-Man consume him? “Hero” was not a great song for Michael. I thought maybe he could breathe life into it in an Andrew Garcia “Straight Up” kind of way. But it made him sound like a vocal lightweight. You really don’t want to leave people thinking, “Well, he’s not Chad Kroeger.” Okay, maybe you do, but not in the way we were thinking it. Inspire-o-meter: Nickel
Odds of Going Home: Scary

Crystal Bowersox
Well, Crystal you really had to hear and see. Her “People Get Ready” was pretty much just a warning that the tears were a-comin’ for her and for you. Pretty amazing. Inspire-o-meter: Damn, girl.
Odds of Going Home: Nil