American Idol Group Performance Lip Sync! Part 3

americanidolThis week, American Idol finally admitted what we knew for weeks.  “Due to extensive choreography and to balance their voices with open mics against a screaming audience, the Idols do sing along to their own prerecorded vocal track during the group performances only” a rep for the show told reporters.  “They’re not going Milli Vanilli on us, they are singing to their own voices.”  It’s the same thing that has been done at major sporting events for years during the singing of the National Anthem–the performers sing (or lip sync) into a dead mic while their prerecorded rendition is played over the loudspeakers.

milli-vanilliI am glad they fessed up to the duping, but I am a little surprised it took so long for them to do so.  I guess they wanted to get away with it as long as possible, then come clean before their ratings started slipping because of the controversy.  The good news is that they only lip sync for the group performance on results night.  The individual performances on theme night are all live. More good news is that Milli Vanilli lip did their lip sync to someone elses voices while the Idols lip sync to their own voices.

motownTonight’s Motown Group Medley was prerecorded.  I could see that the judges chairs were empty in a 360 degree camera pan, and there were no shots that showed anyone in the audience.  The band was missing from upstairs, too.  Their instruments were present, but there was no one playing them. The medley was obviously spliced together. It was most evident when Adam went from singing in formation, to doing a solo holding the mic stand, to going back into formation, then back holding the mic stand–all in an instant.  To the Idol’s credit (and the video mixer’s credit, too) the lip syncing was barely evident.  The performance looked like a pretty well done music video.

Scott McIntyre, Michael Sarver, and Matt Giraud were the bottom three vote getters after the nationwide call-in.  The judges were surprised to see Matt near the bottom.  Scott was the best of the worst and gets to sing again next week. Michael ended up singing for a second chance.  All during the song, the judges barely spoke to each other, leading me to believe that they had already decided his fate.  Michael is out of the competition.

mike-coke2I am glad they went to making a music video for the group medley performance.  It was professionally done and well received.  It beats the heck out of the lip syncing that had been going on in previous weeks.  We sat on the couch at the Munro House and thoroughly enjoyed tonight’s program.

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Published in: on March 26, 2009 at 4:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Adam Lambert on American Idol Part 2

adam-lambert-motownAdam Lambert slicked back his hair, put on a suit, and became a crooner last night on American Idol. He went from looking like a troubled Emo Goth Pop Wannabe, to looking like a very handsome, confident, and sincere young man with unlimited potential. His metamorphosis likened him to Elvis, Chris Isaack, or one of the Baldwins. It was Motown Week and he took Smokey Robinson’s “Tracks of My Tears” and turned it into an instant marketable recording. His performance outshone the rest of the contestants by light years. Two of the judges, and Smokey himself, gave Adam a standing ovation.  If the competition was over today, he would win, hands down.

My wife and I DVRed the show and kept rewatching Adam’s rendition of the classic Motown song on the big screen at the Munro House.  After the fifth viewing, we were convinced that that was the best performance of the season, so far.  Strange as it may seem, I think he can do even better.

Lambert is still my early pick to win it all this year. Hope to see him in the top three along with Danny Gokey and Allison Iraheda.  Gokey is solid week after week. Iraheda, at 16, has unbelievable style, talent, and poise.  All three contestants still have to bring it on week after week to get to the top.  They are well on their way to becoming national recording artists.

Based solely on this week’s performance, Scott McIntyre, Michael Sarver, and Lil Rounds are in trouble on tonight’s results show.  Based on past performances, Lil has no worries.  As much as the judges didn’t like Megan Joy, I think she might be unique and pretty enough to last at least one more week.

American Idol Group Performance Lip Sync? Part 2

americanidol1Results night on American Idol came last night.  11 contestants were reduced to 10.  But before the bottom 3 were announced, the eleven singers did another group song.  The lip syncing was not overtly blatant–they did a good job of hiding it.  There weren’t many solos and very few close up shots, so the producers did a good job of disguising their use of lip syncing.  The ones who didn’t know the words held the microphone in front of their mouths to cover up any mistakes.  The ones who did know the song kept the mic at a fair distance from their mouth and sang along with vigor to the piped-in recording.  They were plausibly live–much like the National Anthem singers at major sporting events.

The recording was probably done by the American Idol contestants in a studio and they were just singing along with themselves on live TV.  The harmonies were too good and the tones were mixed too perfectly.  I did enjoy the performance, but would have liked it better if not for the lip sync.

The guest performers were obviously live.  Brad Paisley, Randy Travis, and Carrie Underwood performed without enhanced vocals.  Carrie was by far the best singer of the night.  She is the total package.

We watched American Idol on Fox on the big screen at the Munro House in Jonesville, MI.  American IdolAt the end of the show, Alexis Grace was let go.  I like her a lot.  She’s sexy, jazzy, and a little rough around the edges.  She just wasn’t accepted by the voting public this week.  I think she outperformed at least 2 of the guys and one of the girls, but America did not agree.  She got another chance to sing the song, live, and hope that the judges would save her.  They did not.

Another slice of pop culture is the use of lip syncing as a crutch for otherwise good performers.  I hope the day comes when the contestants are good enough to know the words to popular songs.  Maybe if they eliminated the choreographed steps, the singers could concentrate on singing and be able to perform live.

Adam Lambert on American Idol Part 1

americanidolI am hooked on American Idol and have been since its first season.  My early favorite this year is Adam Lambert. He’s the kinda chunky screamer with the weird black hair cut.  The guy can sing–and he can scream on pitch.  He has incredible stage presence, he is polished, and I am surprised that no one has signed him to some sort of a contract before the show started.  He’s that good.

adamlambert-36Last night was Grand Ole Opry night. The contestants had to choose country songs to sing. This night is historically the toughest night for pop singers, as they generally are not too familiar with country music. The good news is that the performances were better than they were last week on Michael Jackson night–there were no train wrecks. The bad news is that there were many good performances but no one shined white hot. I think a good singer could be voted out this week, and my guess is that the judges will not play their “save” card until later in the competition.

Randy Travis was this week’s celebrity coach. He didn’t know what to make of Adam Lambert, his clothes, his makeup, or his choice to sing a Johnny Cash song–Ring of Fire.  His weirdly unique rendition of the classic tune was a definite risk to try to appeal to mainstream pop culture.

To me it sounded like Nine Inch nails meets the Dalai Lama with a female lead singer.  The judges did not like it at all. I wasn’t sure about it.  I knew I didn’t hate it.  I thought he had good tone and sang on pitch, but was it good? I had to take a breath, rewind, and listen to it again.  As odd a concoction as it was, I wasn’t sure about it after the first listen.  When the judges started their critique, I was wondering if they were too shocked by the spacey song rendition to analyze the actual performance.  That is why I replayed it, paid attention to the melody, and the quality of his voice.  I liked everything about it the second time around–not a hit record in any country, but a sample of what he is capable of in the future.

I have a feeling that voters will either love him or hate him.  He has a strange look, but the guy can sing.  Unfortunately, I don’t see him having much appeal to the 14 and under crowd or the 35 and over  crowd–except for people like me, of course.  I think that those age groups cast a lot of votes.  He may do well in the competition, but it may be difficult for him to win it outright. I am 51 years old and got nothing but a busy signal on Adam’s Idol line for the first 10 minutes of voting–with 11 singers still in the competition, a busy signal is a good sign.  I finally got through and submitted double digit votes for the singer I want to see again.

I hope that somebody, anybody, gets fewer votes that Adam. He is the most unique Idol contestant this year. There is no doubt that he is a talented performer. Of all the contestants from every year, he is on the short list of the ones I would pay to see–along with Chris Daughtry and Carrie Underwood. The judges always talk about forgetable performances–this performance will be talked about for a long time. Adam Lambert has brought something unique to the table that the other contestants are going to have to compete against with traditional weapons.

We watched Idol on Fox with some of our peeps at the Munro House in Jonesville, Michigan.  There was a lot of interesting conversation about the contestants and the judges.  I think I was the only one who actually cast a vote, so I called in a bunch of them.

The PAII Bed and Breakfast Conference and Convention

There is an annual convention for innkeepers being held in Atlanta this Spring.  The group is called PAII, the Professional Association of Innkeepers International. It is a chance to see current industry trends, gather ideas, and see what’s new in the hospitality business, along with opportunities to learn new ways to effectively promote and market our individual businesses.

I went to the PAII conference in Phoenix a few years back and came back refreshed, invigorated, and full of ideas.  Much of the information was on marketing–internet presence, search engine optimization, web design, etc.  Some of the classes were the day-to-day stuff–recipes, cooking techniques, energy efficiency, etc.  A few sessions were about staying healthy–making time for yourself, relaxation techniques, exercise routines, etc.  Every day has key note speakers who address the innovations that small properties, like B&Bs, contribute to the big picture of the hospitality industry.

It means taking time off from being self employed.  It means spending money to make money.  It means that we are never too old to learn something new.  I found the sessions to be very enriching.  I came away with a plethora of ideas to enhance and improve my business.  I met many people who could relate to the things an innkeeper goes through on a regular basis.

These conventions seem to be pretty pricey, but taking the ideas and making minor changes to the way you do business can pay for the price of the show.  Major changes to the way you do business can make (or save) big bucks.

I run a 7 room inn in Jonesville Michigan called the Munro House.  I hope to mix a little pleasure with business this month that will positively affect my bottom line over the course of the year at my bed and breakfast.

Published in: on March 16, 2009 at 10:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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American Idol Group Performance Lip Sync? Part 1

The American Idol group performance on results night was too tight.  The notes were too crisp, the harmonies were right on, the volume was consistent, and I couldn’t hear them breathe–they were too good.  I am convinced that the group lip synced the Michael Jackson medley tonight.

I thought it was just my imagination, but my DVR tells me that somebody doesn’t trust that the Idol finalists can handle performing live in a group dynamic, so they are taking steps to avoid a major screw up on live TV.  They appear to have taped the lyrical portion of the song so the performers can concentrate on the dance portion of the performance.  Check out Michael Sarver’s solo at the end–he almost missed it.  Scott was moving his lips out of sync, but he wasn’t making any sound.  Most of the rest of the singers were just a smidgen off–and it was noticeable.

This is live TV, and I want to see the singers rise up to the pressure most of the time, and I want to see them screw up once in a while.  The group performance doesn’t matter as a part of the competition, so no one is being hurt by letting them sing–live. 

This could become a scandal too difficult to spin if they don’t nip it.  Didn’t they learn anything from Milli Vanilli?  I hope this is the last lip sync on Idol.  Who would pay to see the Idols on tour this summer if all we have to look forward to is more lip syncing?

Kanye West performed live…. and he was outstanding!

Kelly Clarkson was live… and she was hot.

I’m at home, just trying to keep at real at the Munro House.

Published in: on March 11, 2009 at 8:39 pm  Comments (3)  
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American Idol Coca Cola Judge’s Glasses

Back in the 1970’s, I worked for Pepsi Cola for almost 5 years.  I was a route salesman back in the days when 16 ounce returnable bottles was the packaging of choice.  The pop itself was very inexpensive, but there was a  bottle deposit of 10 cents each that was added on.  Our annual big sale event offered eight 16 ounce bottles (1 gallon) of Pepsi products for 89 cents at retail.  We sold a lot of pop.

pepsi-8pkDuring this era, I moved 300-400 cases per day.  I had to lift it off the truck, wheel it into the store, and stock the shelf.  With 24 bottles in a case, the total weight was about 60 pounds per case.  We could get 5 cases on a hand cart, so that was 300 pounds per load that we had to handle twice.  300 cases times 60 pounds times 2 handlings equals 18 TONS per day.  Needless to say, I had forearms like Popeye!popeye1

At one point, the constant lifting gave me back troubles.  At that time, our company doctor gave me muscle relaxers and pain pills and sent me back to work with a herniated disc to do some more heavy lifting!  My back was ruined and I left that job of heavy lifting with no compensation.

30 years of chiropractic care keeps me functioning.  But I’m blaming it all on my company doctor and am getting even, one twelve pack at a time, by purchasing Coke products.

mycokerewardsCoca Cola, Diet Coke, Sprite, and Dasani Water  are always in my refrigerator.  When the idea of offering points to loyal consumers came around, I started saving bottle caps and 12 pack codes from Coke products to earn enough points to get some cool stuff for free by going to MyCokeRewards.com.

I save thousands of points each year and redeem them around the first of the year.  Mostly, I get magazine subscriptions.  We own the Munro House Bed and Breakfast in Jonesville, Michigan.  We like to offer current magazines as an amenity in our guest rooms.    Food Arts, Good Housekeeping, and House Beautiful are a few of the magazines that are a good fit for our business.  For variety, we also get Flying, Popular Mechanics, GQ, Fitness, and Cosmopolitan along with several others.  Our peeps seem to like them.

redcokeglassAs I was looking through the magazines, I noticed that they were offering those red Coca Cola glasses that the judges on American Idol use–a real piece of pop culture.  I had seen them last year, but by the time I saved up enough points, they were sold out and did not reappear.  So when American Idol returned this season, I saved back some points to purchase some of those cups from My Coke Rewards for when they became available again.  Note that one cup is 150 points, but you can get 4 for 425–a sweet deal.  Get them while they are still available.

My 4 red cups arrived today.  I saw the carton by the mailbox with a red and white return address label and knew immediately what was inside.  I excitedly ripped open the boxes and found four red plastic cups that gave me geat joy. 

americanidolThe next installment of American Idol is coming up on Tuesday.  My wife and I and (maybe) some of our guests will be sporting our own judges cups while we watch Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Kara DioGuardi, and Randy Jackson rate the performances.  We do not always agree with their comments, but as cruel as he seems, Simon is almost always right.

mike-coke

Yes, I watch American Idol on FOX

On weekdays, in the evening, I have a lot of down time at our bed and breakfast.  Our weekday clientele is mainly single business travelers.  Most of them work all day, go out to dinner, then check in.  Typical arrival time is between 8 and 10 p.m.  On any given night, my wife and I are confined to the house, waiting for our peeps to arrive.

idol-logoWe enjoy pop culture.  One of our favorite programs is American Idol.  We have the DVR set to record every episode.  That way, when our peeps arrive in the middle of the show, we can just press pause and come back to it later.

I was very disappointed this season when so many early favorites all appeared in the first round of 12 elimination.  There were 5 very good performances and under this year’s rules, only 3 could be chosen.  Despite almost 100 votes on my cell phone for “Anoop Dog” Desai, it was not enough to put him in the top 3 in that round. 

Subsequent elimination rounds had 2 good performances at best.  Adam Lambert is my early choice to win it all.  His rendition of the Rolling Stones “Satisfaction” was my favorite performance of the season, so far.  I was surprised that he was not the top male choice in round 2, but he did make the cut because he was the next highest vote getter.

Lil Rounds had the hands down top performance during round 3.  I thought the other 2 placements that week were up for grabs as Lil had the only outstanding song choice.

Then came Wild Card Night where the judges would give 8 of the 24 unchosen contestants one more chance at making the top 12.  Because 6 of the 9 chosen spots were occupied by guys, I thought for sure all 3 spots would go to girls in order to even out the competition by gender.

Tatiana got a second chance.  She has an outstanding voice, but the drama she carries with her is so-o-o-o-o heavy, annoying, and tiresome.  If she were to just shut up and sing, she would have made it on her vocal talent alone.  Her drama was way too distracting for the voting public to want to see her again.  I was surprised that she sang the same old song for the third time and didn’t do it as well as before.  I was thankful that she was not given a chance to sing it a fourth time.

When the final slots were filled and Anoop wasn’t among them, I wondered what the judges were thinking.  He may not have been the best singer, but he has a very likable personality.  If there’s one thing I know about music, it’s that a big personality combined with marginal talent will get you much farther commercially than marginal personality and superior talent.  When the judges decided to take it from the top 12 to the top 13 and made Anoop the final contestant, I once again had faith in the American Idol program.

I guess it really doesn’t matter who wins.  All, or most, of these 13 contestants who are willing to put in the time and effort will be heard from again.  My top 6 picks are Adam Lambert, Anoop Desai, Danny Gokey, Megan Joy, Alexis Grace, and Allison Iraheta.

Come to the Munro House  on any Tuesday or Wednesday (and an occassional Thursday) during the Spring and enjoy Idol of Fox with me.

Plaid Pajamas – Michigan Bed and Breakfast Guests

Most folks come to the Munro House Bed and Breakfast in Jonesville, Michigan, for a leisurely romantic weekend.  Some people come here on business to enjoy our homey atmosphere.  But Cheryl’s family came here to bury her dad.

 

It was an occasion that is dreaded by everyone, a funeral.  The grandmother came back to North Adams from South Carolina to lay her husband to rest in the family plot.  She was joined by her two daughters and a granddaughter.  It was a solemn return to Hillsdale County for all of them.

 

After dinner on the night of the funeral, my wife, Lori, was walking down the hall to our quarters.  As she passed one of their guest rooms, she noticed the door was ajar.  She glanced through the opening to see all of them just sitting there, staring at the floor.  The fireplace was warming them, but the only sound to be heard was sniffling and whimpering.  Obviously, it was going to be a very long, somber evening.  That’s when Lori noticed they were all wearing different colored plaid pajamas.  She immediately went to her room and changed into her plaid pajamas, too.  She went downstairs, made a pot of tea, and brought along skewers and marshmallows.

 

She knocked, entered the room, poured the tea, and passed out the marshmallows.  What a sight to behold:  five women sitting around a fireplace, drinking tea, and roasting marshmallows in their plaid pajamas.  Within a few minutes, they were all on their second marshmallow.  The warm gooey mess made everyone smile.  The sadness turned to cheerful reminiscing about the good old days when their loved one was still alive. 

 

plaid-pajamas-016_9aAbout this time I walked by the open door and saw these funeral attendees with my wife.  They were laughing, telling stories, and having a good time.  Lori shooed me out of the room and said I wasn’t allowed to join them unless I was wearing plaid pajamas, too.  I went to my room, searched through my dresser, found the required garments, changed, and joined the group of marshmallow roasters.

 

The saddest of days turned into an evening full of laughing and sharing.  The grandmother had tears in her eyes.  She turned to Lori and said “I haven’t roasted marshmallows with my girls in a long time.  This is like it was 30 years ago. Thank you.”  We hugged and went back to our special roast in front of the fire in the guest room at the end of the hall.

 

When they checked out, we looked to see if they wrote in the journals that are in our guest rooms.  Yes, they did and it said “We had a good time despite the sadness of the occasion. It ended up being more of a family reunion.  We picked the right place to stay.” 

 

One year later, the daughter and mother came to stay again at our B&B.  The thing they enjoyed talking about most, was roasting marshmallows in their pajamas.  We had helped them get through a very difficult time.  They remember it as an evening of celebration at a time of incredible loss.  We remember it as another day we did our job to make people feel comfortable in our house.  Now, every time we see plaid pajamas, we smile and think about marshmallows.

Funeral Guests at Michigan Bed and Breakfast

Just like in the big city, our small town of Jonesville, Michigan, has people coming and going all of the time.  It”s just on a smaller scale. Many things that are available in the city are also available here, only in smaller quantities and fewer choices.  You just have to know where to look.

We own the Munro House Bed and Breakfast in downtown Jonesville.  Many people kind of forget about us a lodging choice for family and friends coming to town.  They think that we are strictly about romance–that just is not the case.  Yes, a good share of our weekend business is geared towards couples, but there are 5 more days in the week where our business goes off in different directions.  We get a nice variety of visitors including single business travelers, retired persons, and funeral attendees during the week.  Staying in a big old house in a town too small for a chain hotel is a great alternative to driving a fair distance, staying in a dive, or sleeping on your aunt’s fold-out couch.

A funeral is almost always an unexpected expense.  The visitation the night before and the morning service almost always requires an overnight stay.  In a small town, a B&B is often the most convenient and the finest lodging available and can be very affordable.

We have always offered a bereavement rate to folks coming to town for a funeral.  We think that it is the right thing to do.  Because it is an unexpected expense, we offer the family a discount of up to 50% on our regular rates to help out in this tight economy.  

There are not a lot of lodging choices in a small town.  If you come here under sad circumstances, why not make it a celebration by enjoying your night in your loved one’s town?  Our house is comfortable, and it feels like home.  We offer privacy because of our small size. We have fireplaces for gathering and telling stories.  Our teapot is ready to boil with a nice assortment of tea that is free to enjoy as often as needed. 

Folks who have stayed with us to attend a funeral have been more than satisfied with the level of comfort that we offer in their time of need at a surprisingly affordable price.