Parks and Recreation
Off the Map
V (for killing Tyler)
America’s Next Top Model
Bones (Don’t taunt us like that, show)
Lauren Alaina - A frontrunner. She’s a little too country for one of us, but you can’t deny that her voice is beautiful and she is perfectly at ease when singing, and her audition blew one of us away. Lauren still has some goodwill earned from that performance. She’s got a natural ear the other (pitchy) contestants can only dream of, and she is young, pretty, and sweet. It's about time a girl won American Idol again. One of us is starting to think America hates women and female voices. Contestant grade: A
Pia Toscano - Pia is the dark horse. One of us would even have put her at the top of this list, but lost the spat. Pia can sing on key. She can hit the high notes. She looks and smiles like a Stepford wife when she is sitting and smiling on the stage, but when she sings, she’s the diva that Ashthon wasn’t. We love how she bends her knees on the big notes. As far as just singing goes, she’s got it in the bag. She just needs to get interesting as a person now. Drop the prom queen look and open up, Pia. Contestant grade: A-
James Durbin - Ok, freaky moment. We are older than James Durbin. Ewwwww, we’re old! We loved when Steven Tyler told him that he had sandwiches that were older than James Durbin. We felt the same way. James has the rock voice that Casey lacks. The judges said it last week: He can really sing under his rock stylings. All the great rock singers actually had beautiful voices (see: Dio) that they harshed up a bit to make more rocking. He can sing anything, he’s got an unreal range, he’s on key, and he’s got tone. He may be the best rock voice to grace the Idol stage, except for Kelly Clarkson (and maybe Daughtry), that is. One of us thinks that if he can perform some tricks, pick interesting songs, and get some personality, he can beat Casey at Casey’s own game. The other blogger thinks they are two very different singers and performers, and therefore NOT competing in the same game. Cue the return of the spat! Contestant grade: B+
Paul McDonald - What’s with all these pitchy contestants? That’s the buzzword of this (and every) season: Pitchy. He’s good-looking and we like his style though. It sounds like he is molesting us via song with that slithery tone. In a good way. Contestant grade: B
Scotty McCreery - Here’s what we were thinking before last night: We need Scotty to break out of country, just for one night, just to hear what he sounds like. What about something from our last great bass pop star, Elvis. And then, ALL OUR DREAMS! He mentioned Elvis and how he idolized him. And then he went and sang a country song. Hopefully he will sing Elvis when he has a theme that allows it. This week, he stretched himself by singing a song with a little more range and holding out a note. That’s nice, but we need more of that. As of now, we are convinced we’ve seen all that Scotty has to offer, unless he can write a great country tune to go with that country butter tone. Still, what he has offered is pretty good. Contestant grade: B-
Jacob Lusk - Ern really likes this guy, because he has a great voice. Leeard is not so sure. He was VERY pitchy in "I Believe I Can Fly", and seems to lack control over his powerful instrument in that he can’t stay on the melody a lot. When he’s good, he brings the house down. When he’s bad, it makes you wonder how he got to the top 12 in the first place. Advice? Take it easy on the runs and hold out more notes. The voice is good enough to carry a song without that many runs, and it’s in the runs and key changes that he struggles to stay on key. Contestant grade: C+
Karen Rodriguez - Beautiful voice, likeable girl. But it’s about time she stopped milking the whole Spanish thing. The “Hero” half in Spanish was still boring, even in two languages. And her Selena stunt came off as pandering to a judge. This week, she was more tolerable. We agree with J-Lo that she is one of the strongest girls, but we’d like to see her take a risk, stand out more, and stop trying to make J-Lo love her. Make us love you, Karen. Contestant grade: C
Thia Megia - Leeard has an all-abiding dislike for this contestant that sprouted during her audition. Thia’s phrasing has always grated on Leeard’s nerves. Ern likes her. Her voice tone is beautiful. Yeah, sometimes she goes flat, doesn’t know a song she should know, and has a blank, young stare on her face, but she has a beautiful voice and a decent range. Ern is a fan. This week’s song choice was definitely boring and lame. That’s an easy song to sing. She needs to take some risks and sing some showstoppers, as well as fast-paced songs. Someone needs to take this young talent and mold her. But is there time for her to grow on the Idol stage? Still, don’t count her out. She’s young and cute enough to have the grandma bracket cornered. And grandmas vote like the wind for this show. Contestant grade: C-
Haley Reinhart - The judges think she should move around more. How out-of-sync is the show that they then put her up in four-inch heels to perform? And how annoying is it that the judges think she needs to pick a style and show less variety, when they always complain that other contestants don’t show ANY variety? We like her voice, but her performances and song choices need work. Contestant grade: D+
Stefano Langone - The judges think he can take this competition. We think it will be hard for him, because one of us thinks he looks like a fish. It’s America that’s voting, and America is shallow. We weren’t as impressed as the judges were with his singing this week. The performance was good, but we don’t know if we like his voice yet. He sounds a little lost and doesn’t know who he is as an artist yet. It would be hard for him to win. He’s not one that we remember when we turn off the TV, even if the judges dubbed him “the best performance of the night” this week. Contestant grade: D
Naima Adedapo - This is our pick to go home this week. The judges were concerned that the public might not “get” Paul McDonald. We think it’s more of a worry that people won’t get Naima. Her “Umbrella” last week was lackluster, but only because of the song choice and dancing. We thought this week’s song was pitchy, and she needs a little more beauty to her clear, loud tone. But she can really move around the stage. And she’s beautiful. Sadly, she can’t sing on key. One of us really likes her, but has accepted that she’s probably going to get voted off soon. Contestant grade: D-
The F would have been Ashthon, but she's gone. Lots of people wonder if they are good enough to make it just based on singing. Not songwriting, being sexy, performing, dancing, packaging yourself, or anything else. Just singing. This is how you know you are that great at singing: Go out to a karaoke bar or wherever they have that. Pick your best song. By the time you are halfway through it, the entire bar should be completely silent, looking at you, and not laughing in any way. When you stop singing, they should all applaud, but before that, it needs to be quiet enough that you could hear a pin drop were the music and you to stop. If that happens, you’re great. We think the contestants we gave As and Bs to could silence a karaoke bar.
What was good: The Dragon Challenge rollercoaster. It was just a regular rollercoaster. It could have been longer, in our opinions. But it was good. The other rollercoaster, Flight of the Hippogriff, is designed more for children, but we would still go on it, if you have time. There is a Hogwarts Express replica just inside the gates, but that is mostly there for photo ops.
What was disappointing: The joke shop, Zonko's. There wasn’t much there. Hardly any funny items, and it was really small. It didn’t deserve to wear the name. Honeydukes was mostly good for chocolate frogs and not much else, unless you are crazy for candy. It WAS a little too crowded, and it's also a little small. We hope Universal seriously considers expanding the Harry Potter portion of the park, if only to accomodate the milling crowds. There's a lot of opportunity here. The castle could be expanded as well. Move the extra rooms underground if you have to. The park portion definitely left us wanting more. More rides, more stores, more more more. Don't go expecting it to be a whole theme park, or even half of one. It's a section. But it's still awesome.