Tag Archives: American Idol

American Idol Season 14 Changes

As you may have seen on television (that thing that kills time while your phone is charging), American Idol is about to enter its FOURTEENTH season (another year and it can get its learners driving permit), and like any show that has been on for so long, the team at Idol is implementing some changes to help attract new viewers and keep the old ones. Using my top-secret entertainment industry connections I was able to obtain a list of these changes for you, my loyal readers.

American Idol Season 14 Changes:

• American Idol’s infamously rotating cast of celebrity judges will bump up from rotating every season to now rotating every 15 minutes. Things get especially dramatic when Mark McGrath gives the approving vote to put a contestant through to Hollywood only to have the “rotate judge” alarm go off, with replacement judge Kevin Federline voting the other way for the unlucky contestant.

• In addition to searching for talent in New Orleans, Nashville, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and New York City; the show will also be holding its trademark ten-thousand-person auditions in Metropolis, Atlantis, The Emerald City, Mount Olympus, The Alternate 1985 timeline from Back to the Future 2, and The Negaverse from Sailor Moon.

• In an effort to boost ratings, American Idol will declare every show day also Opposite Day, turning their 1.7 into a 7.1 and “a 25% decrease” into “a 25% increase” and “beating a dead horse” into “entertainment.”

• Keith Urban has agreed to a cross-promotion with a hip, young clothing store, legally changing his name to Keith Urban Outfitters.

• Going to just start referring to itself in all graphics, conversations, and materials as “The Voice” and see if anyone notices.

• Taking its well-known list of mentors like Randy Jackson and Scott Borchetta and adding other legendary mentors such as The P90X Guy, Mister Miyagi, Mother Teresa, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Professor Dumbledore, Your High School English Teacher, Dina Lohan, Rafiki from Lion King, and Gandalf the Grey.

• End every show with one uncut five-minute block of lemmings mindlessly walking to their demise by the ton and see if even a single viewer picks up on the irony.

• Putting Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken, and Taylor Hicks in fake Groucho disguise mustache-glasses and sneaking them back into the competition.

• Following up all eliminations with on-air, real-time executions of whoever is voted off that week.

• Brian Dunkleman.

• Do a Mythbusters-style special on whether or not Ryan Seacrest has ever said anything sincere with all that feigned enthusiasm in the past 13 years.

• Airing all episodes at once, Netflix style, to help induce binge watching like the kiddies enjoy so much these days.

• Regardless of what the votes say, just declaring Ruben Studdard the winner anyway.

…Should be a fun season!

Play on,
Dustin

casual pic of Brian Dunkleman, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson

casual pic of Brian Dunkleman, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson

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The Friday Five: Five Rules for Choosing Your Karaoke Song

“For this I will lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will make lamentation like the jackals, and cry out like the ostriches.”

…That verse from Micah (chapter one, verse eight) probably marks one of the earliest references to karaoke in the Old Testament (that’s the first half of the Bible, to all you pagans out there). The simple fact of the matter is that at some point in your life, you are going to have to sing (or at least co-sing) a song in some sort of karaoke situation. Oh sure, I’ve heard all the excuses before “I’d never let myself sink that low” “I’m too careful to end up like that” “I’m a good person”, etc. but the fact of the matter is you can either prepare mentally and spiritually for this kind of thing, or you can just live in denial and be caught totally off guard when it happens to you (and trust me, it will). Bachelorette parties, housewarmings, cookouts, bar mitzvahs…technology has progressed in such a way that karaoke can strike anywhere, at any time, and even if you take every precaution available, karaoke will find you. And when it does, karaoke will show no mercy. Luckily, I’m here for you, and if you follow a few simple guidelines, you can survive karaoke as unscathed as possible…and heck, you might even come out of it with a good story to tell.

Five Karaoke Rules that will keep you from ending up like this guy. You're welcome.

Five Karaoke Rules that will keep you from ending up like this guy. You’re welcome.                                                     (Note: The National Anthem is not a great karaoke song choice)

Rule 1: Know your level of vocal ability.
I always think this one is a no-brainer, but then every year I see a new set of American Idol promos (I haven’t watched an actual episode of American Idol since the Clay Aiken/Ruben Studdard season, I was too hurt after watching Clay unjustly lose to ever go back…plus those types of shows are pretty played out) where an astoundingly high number of people can’t sing. It’s one thing to be blissfully unaware that you’re singing is off-pitch (shout out to whoever was standing behind me in church this week*, but you do you, homeslice), but there’s a special level of pain I feel for people that are terrible singers and have NO IDEA! Like whoever is the Paula these days will be like “sorry sweetie, you’re no good” and the contestant will be all like “Psh YOU DON’T KNOW MY WORLD SON, I’ma take my voice and go out and make a million dollars without your show! I voted green party!” and then we never hear or see them again, with the sort-of exception of William Hung, who is on national TV about as often as I am (AKA not very). The moral of the story is: it may be painful, but do whatever you have to in order to figure out how good of a singer you are BEFORE you find yourself in front of a group of people at a karaoke bar or a panel of Randy Jackson types.

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Dustin’s Three to See: December

In an effort to stay slightly more topical than, say, reviewing 33-year-old episodes of Saturday Night Live, I wanted to share the top movies I saw last month — to help out those of you who don’t see 90% of the films that are released like I do. And actually full credit goes to my longtime friend Phil (if you live in Columbus or the surrounding areas, go see his awesome cover band!) who was like “You see a lot of movies…you should put together a top three list every month so people who don’t go to the movies very often know which ones they should see.” And so here we are.

December is a huge month for movies, so coming up with a list of good movies to see this month wasn’t the hard part…the hard part was keeping it to three. However if you were on death row and your last request was to see three movies (instead of something more practical like, say, a hacksaw baked into a cake), these are the three to see. They are in no particular order.

 

Movie 1) — The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The only unexpected thing about Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth prequel is that they broke the shortest book (J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit) into the most movies (three so far, not counting an animated spinoff I’m pitching about dysentery called “Gollum’s Revenge”). But just because you know what’s coming doesn’t make it any less of an enjoyable ride. Jackson’s visuals have only sharpened since 2003 and brought an even more vibrant Middle Earth to life (just as those poor Kiwis were starting to be known for something other than the LOTR movies). In fact, if you’re re-watching the Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition on BluRay like I am (cue a chorus of “ohhhh THAT’S why he’s single”), you’ll really notice how much the CGI and other effects have improved in Middle Earth over the last ten years since Return of the King came out. This movie feels every bit like it’s only the first third of the story, versus the original trilogy where each installment had its own sense of closure. But to its credit, The Hobbit doesn’t drag, despite the 170-minute run time (every bit of three hours if you include previews). A good movie, with the clichéd “something for everyone” vibe that does, in fact, have something for everyone.

 

Movie 2) — Django: Unchained
Quentin Tarantino bears the blessing and curse of being mentioned equally alongside each of his movies — versus other directors who enjoy a slightly more anonymous presence and are able to let their movies speak for themselves. That said, QT’s latest work still has a lot to say, and if you can get past the decidedly R-rated Tarantino-style gore and more gratuitous use of the N-word than a Li’l Wayne + Mark Fuhrman mixtape, you’ll find a complex and compelling story, woven full of complex and compelling characters. With the spot-on performances you’d expect from Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx, and tons of support from scene-stealers Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz (the latter just today nominated for Best Supporting Actor…hard to not think of him as a lead, though), this film would be a master class in acting and directing, even without its very solid story and script. But the difference between a very good movie and a great one is what you come away with once the credits have finished rolling, and when you leave Django you won’t be thinking about the exploding limbs or the racial slurs, you’ll be thinking about what the world would look like with a little less hate in it. And that’s a great thing to take away from any experience.

 

Movie 3) — Les Misérables
I know I said earlier that I wasn’t ranking these films in any particular order, but if you see one movie this month (or this year for that matter), it absolutely has to be Tom Hooper’s soon-to-be legendary movie based on Claude-Michel Schönberg’s legendary musical based on Victor Hugo’s legendary novel (as epic as it is lengthy). Hyperbole aside, what makes this story so compelling is that it calls into attention the eternal (and arguably only) struggle of humankind — how to forgive the unforgivable and how to hope in the face of hopelessness. To do what’s right even when it will bring no recognition or personal profit. Why else would a story written over 150 years ago and a musical that’s been running for over three decades still carry such weight in our modern lives? The acting is spectacular, the score and arrangements are deeply engrossing…overall this is an incredibly faithful and powerful adaptation of a property that isn’t easy to convert to the silver screen. The most nitpicky will wonder if the director’s ever heard of any shot besides a closeup, and will decry Russell Crowe’s vocals as subpar, but neither of these things diminish the overall experience or “must-see” status of the film. And if you’re adapting a famous stage musical, why not showcase the one element that you never see when you’re seeing the stage version in person? The closeups of the brilliant acting taking place. And as for Crowe’s vocals, the simple fact of the matter is that they’re not actually that bad…he’s just the least-talented singer in a cast of VERY talented singers. It’s not like watching American Idol auditions, and even Randy wouldn’t be so bold as to call him pitchy (he has a nasally timbre to his voice, to be sure, but he sings in tune). And if it still bothers you that much, just do what Paula did to tolerate bad singing — get hammered drunk until you don’t care. And really, isn’t that what the holidays are all about anyway?

Kidding aside, none of us are so perfect that our lives don’t need some dissection more often than not, and if it takes a major motion picture like Les Misérables to be the caveat that pushes you to choose hope and life and right in the face of this world’s constant negativity and darkness, then so be it.

“To love another person is to see the face of God.” —Victor Hugo

 

So there’s your three to see for December, and don’t fret, I’ll be sure to sort through January’s best for you in time for the start of next month!

Honorable Mentions (from November and December): Wreck-It Ralph, Skyfall, Lincoln, Amour, Promised Land

Play on,
Dustin

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