The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Central Kentucky has more of a rooting interest in the Hollywood round of American Idol as Winchester’s Lauren Mink, a Georgetown College alum, is getting a second chance at the competition. Mink advanced to Hollywood last year but did not make it to the live competition.
She will be joined in Hollywood by Kelly Casey of Nicholasville, who advanced out of the Baton Rouge auditions.
Mink auditioned in Charlotte, which was shown Wednesday night, and impressed a mostly new slate of judges including Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey.
“The judges were so different this year,” Mink says in a video on the Idol website. “I was really excited there was Keith Urban, who is a country person, which is awesome. They never had a country judge before. But I was shocked that Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey liked me so much. They’re probably the ones that were most complimentary to me.”
According to her Facebook page, Mink started singing at age 9 and has performed around Central Kentucky and recorded two albums, an inspirational/contemporary Christian album and a collection of country originals.
Like Casey, Mink counts fellow country singer Carrie Underwood among her favorite Idol winners, though she’s also a fan of original winner Kelly Clarkson.
And like pretty much everyone else in the competition, Mink thinks she would be an ideal Season 12 winner.
“I think I’m a good singer,” Mink says on her video. “It’s taken me a long time to say that I’m a good singer. It’s taken a lot of people telling me I’m a good singer. I don’t feel like I’m cocky about it. I feel like I’m just very confident in who I am as an artist, and I think that I’m also a good role model.”
Also like Casey, Mink was not seen in the episode covering the audition from which she advanced. But Hollywood is coming.
Note: The original posting of this story misidentified Mink as a Georgetown College student. She is an alum.
Nicholasville farm girl Kelly Casey says she auditioned for American Idol so friends and family would stop bugging her to audition. It seems like they had the right idea, because she’s going to Hollywood.
“I’ve always kind of been told that I should audition, and I never have in the past,” Casey says in a video on the Idol website. “This is my first time, so I was just kind of trying to get people off of my back about doing it and, wow, I got a golden ticket. It’s incredible.”
Casey advanced out of the Baton Rouge auditions, which were broadcast Thursday night on Fox. She was not seen on the episode, and there are several more audition cities to be shown before Hollywood episodes next month, which will be the next chance to see Casey compete.
As a two-time Miss Kentucky contestant, Casey is no stranger to competition, and she has maintained an active singing career in Central Kentucky. In the Idol video, she says her rural upbringing will be a key to her success on the show.
She says, “I think I’m the next American Idol because growing up in a rural area and living on a farm in Kentucky has taught me a great work ethic, which I can convert into music, because no matter how cold it is outside or what’s going on, if it’s Christmas, the animals still have to be taken care of.”
Casey’s Facebook fan page lists her as a country and Christian musician with favorites and influences including Shania Twain and Martina McBride. Her favorite Idol contestant is fairly easy to guess: Carrie Underwood.
““She’s extremely successful, and it’s the same genre of music that I have grown up listening to,” Casey says. “I love country music.”
Carrie Underwood‘s new album is called Blown Away and it includes a song named Cupid’s Got a Shotgun.
But it is in the album’s quieter moments that Underwood shows her true gift as an artist: she kills you.
Blown Away includes several selections akin to her instant classic rockers such as Cowboy Casanova and Before He Cheats that Underwood delivers with sass and authority. But the magic on her fourth album since her victorious turn on season four of American Idol is when she lays aside the theatrics and the pretensions of the “is this country?” chatter and just sings some honest, relateable songs from a woman who sounds like she still tools around her native Oklahoma in a Ford Escape.
Chief among these is Forever Changed by Tom Douglas, James T. Slater and Hillary Lindsey, a heartbreaking ballad about a lovely life slipping away to Alzheimer’s. Underwood has been saying she can’t sing the song live because it’s too emotional, and wiping away a few tears listening to it, you can understand. The emotions aren’t quite as intense, but no less real on other tracks such as Thank God for Hometowns, Good in Goodbye and See You Again. The main quality that made Underwood an Idol winner and its most successful graduate was people feel like they know her, like she is a girl next door. That feeling endures.
It has helped that she can have some fun, and that comes here in the leadoff single and track, Good Girl, as well as the standout storytelling song Two Black Cadillacs, the tale of a mistress and a wife and the late scoundrel they unwittingly shared. It paints the revenge fantasy of Before He Cheats a few shades darker.
In title, Blown Away promises a bit more than it delivers. But we already knew she could do those big rockers and ballads. The discovery here is more subtle and intimate.
Aug1Filed under: American Idol, Music, Rupp Arena, Television; Tagged as: American Idol, American Idols Live, Andrew Garcia, Carrie Underwood, Casey James, Crystal Bowersox, Daughtry, Didi Benami, Gwen Steffani, Janis Joplin, Justin Timberlake, Kate Bush, Katie Stevens, Kelly Clarkson, Lee DeWyze, Leonard Cohen, Michael Lynche, No Doubt, Paula Abdul, Rolling Stones, Rupp Arena, Siobhan Magnus, The Black Keys, U2
The central conceit of American Idols Live is that you can take 10 singers who were begging to be heard last summer and have them command an arena concert tour this summer.
More than the American Idol TV competion, this event could really tell us who is ready for the big time.
After all, the American Idol series is as artificial an environment as any reality/competition show. Singers deliver a song a week – maybe a handful if they make it deep into the competition – and usually it’s not even the entire song. Everything is tailored for TV, and the singers are immediately judged to their faces.
On Idols Live, the Top 10 contestants play to a live audience, which is essentially what they will have to do if they are to have successful musical careers. The audience passes judgement by getting on its feet and singing along to every word and by buying your albums and T-shirts. Or not.
Saturday night, before an estimated crowd of 4,000 at Rupp Arena, some artists seemed right at home and some should probably savor this tour while it lasts.
Like the TV show, the concert counted down the Top 10 from No. 10 Didi Benami to American Idol winner Lee DeWyze.
Even with five full songs near the end of the concert, it was still hard to see what propelled DeWyze to the championship. He’s certainly a good performer and seems like an amiable fellow. But basically he boiled a bunch of established hits like U2′s Beautiful Day and Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah into mid-tempo country-pop tunes. Of course, there are numerous artists touring the country selling pretty much the same thing. It will be interesting to hear what DeWyze has to offer when he puts out his own album.
But several artists seized the opportunity to make good second impressions, particularly third place finisher Casey James. On the show, James always seemed to be a little lost trying to make the judges happy. But taking the stage playing The Black Keys’ I Got Mine, he quickly established himself as a Texas bluesman who had a Stratocaster and wasn’t afraid to use it.
Since its premier following the second to last episode of American Idol last year, Glee has enjoyed a nice relationship with the “reality” TV juggernaut.
Maybe too nice.
Much has been made of the disappointing group of contestants for this year’s Idol which, along with the impending departure of Simon Cowell, is making Idol look like it’s on its last legs. That impression is crystalized in the final two on Idol.
I’m definitely backing Crystal Bowersox as the stronger artist and performer of the pair, like I did with Adam Lambert last year. But I don’t find her as compelling a stage presence as Lambert – though her Up to the Mountain last night certainly was a moment where we watched an artist find the proverbial next level. And Lee DeWyze has pulled off the feat of being even blander than last year’s winner, Kris Allen, which I why, unfortunately, I think he’ll win.
Yes, a diminution of talent, loss of a marquee judge, and a voting base that seems to be attracted to mediocrity make Idol harder and harder to watch.
And then it has Glee making it look worse.
Granted, AI is a mostly non-scripted amateur talent search show while Glee is a scripted drama with professional performers. But the centerpiece of each show is the same: reinterpretations of pop songs.
And even if the storyline on Glee has roller coastered this season, the performances are usually captivating, be it a frame-by-frame recreation of Madonna’s Vogue video or last night’s deconstruction of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face by Lea Michele as Rachel and Idina Menzel as her mother, Shelby – granted, the sex anthem was a strange choice for a mother-daughter duet.
Put that imagination and creativity next to the karaoke of DeWyze and most of his fellow competitors this season, and it seems like the best thing Idol can do to preserve some integrity next season – aside from coming up with a strong replacement for Simon – is put some distance between itself and Glee.
Even with actual “American Idol” Season 9 programs now filling the void, speculation still seems to be at a fever pitch over what the judging table will look like in Season 10.
Your next American Idol? Afterthought – hey, it is early, and I still like General Larry Platt.
While this week’s big speculation has been about the possibility of satellite radio superstar Howard Stern taking over Simon Cowell’s seat when he leaves at the end of this season, “Idol’s” other love ‘em or loathe ‘em judge Kara DioGuardi made a good point about filling his role on the panel earlier this week.
“”If you are going to replace Simon, you have to have that background,” DioGuardi said in numerous press accounts. “Someone who knows about signing great artists and being a part of their career from the very beginning.”
While Simon’s directness makes him the show’s biggest lightning rod, DioGuardi highlights the major asset he brings to the table: the guy has been instrumental in creating television and recording enterprises and has spotted and developed talent such as Leona Lewis.
If that kind of cachet is what “Idol” producers go for, it may not be an established celebrity that takes over that chair, like we are seeing this week with Ellen DeGeneres’ debut as an “Idol” judge.
“Ellen makes it seem like there’s finally an adult on the panel,” a commenter on Joanne Brokaw’s Beliefnet blog said, in my favorite evaluation so far.
She came out of the gate with a few great quips Tuesday night telling a barefoot auditioner she should wear shoes because Hollywood is a filthy town and rejected competitor Skii Bo Ski that there’s a thin line between sexy and scary. So it seems she’ll give up some laughs, but not for histrionic outbursts like her predecessor Paula Abdul. When she wasn’t showing her comic chops, Ellen seemed very serious in her first two episodes, popping on the reading glasses during deliberations and cutting through competitors with almost Simon-esque precision. She also was showcased as a benevolent judge, getting to tell several entire groups they were through to the next rounds.
Of course, these are still highly edited episodes. When we get to live rounds, we’ll start to get a clearer picture of what kind of judge Ellen is and how she fits on the panel. It’ll probably be a while longer before we know who actually replaces Simon.
Last night, you saw her sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl.
June 13th, you can see Carrie Underwood at Rupp Arena. The chart-topper and “American Idol” winner’s concert adds to a strong 2010 concert lineup for Rupp, which has already welcomed Brad Paisley and Breaking Benjamin-Three Days Grace, and has Black Eyed Peas, Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift on the way.
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at the Rupp Arena ticket office and all Ticketmaster outlets. Craig Morgan and Sons of Sylvia are opening.
Underwood is touring on the success of her latest album, “Play On,” which features the hit, “Cowboy Casanova.” Here in the Bluegrass State, we have to enjoy it when the Oklahoma native invokes the name Louisville Slugger in her hit “Before He Cheats.” She won season four of “American Idol,” besting Southern rocker Bo Bice.
Los Angeles was coming across as boring as Chicago and most other “American Idol” audition cities this year that didn’t have General Larry Platt singing “Pants on the Ground.”
Then, Tuesday night, toward the end of the L.A. episode, we saw what the show needed: More Katy Perry. To be more precise, more Katy Perry going womano-a-womano with Kara DioGuardi. In the last segment, we saw a montage of little dustups between the two, including DioGuardi mocking Perry’s hit “Hot and Cold” and Perry threatening to toss the product of a primary show sponsor in her face.
But the line of the night, really of the auditions thus far — aside from “Lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground” — was Perry’s response to DioGuardi’s evaluation of auditioner Chris Golightly. The curly-headed Californian definitely had a tough story, having gone through more than 25 foster homes as a child. And his version of “Stand by Me,” was poignant and well sung, with some flares of individuality.
DioGuardi started praising his voice, but then turned to his story, to which Perry quipped, “This isn’t a Lifetime movie, sweetheart.”
And she was absolutely right, drilling down to one of the things that is making the audition episodes such a slog. Yes, anytime you gather tens of thousands of people in arenas across the country, there are going to be some compelling stories in there. But now, “AI” might as well cue violins if they go out to an auditioner’s home to produce a featurette, because it will be some sob story that would make the judges look like heartless clods if they didn’t give the singer a golden ticket. And while there have been some compelling stories over the years, between Andrew Garcia and Jim Ranger Tuesday night, I was starting to wonder if fathering children was the sole qualification for a weepy feature.
Jan16Filed under: American Idol, Television; Tagged as: 24, Ally McBeal, American Idol, America’s Most Wanted, Beverly Hills 90210, Big Brother, Bones, CBS, Conan O’Brien, COPS, Dateline NBC, Fear Factor, Glee, In Living Color, Jamie Foxx, Jay Leno, Jennifer Lopez, Jim Carrey, Lie to Me, Married ... with Children, Melrose Place, National Football League, News Corp., Nielsen ratings, second-rate Fox, Super Bowl, Temptation Island, The Simpsons, The Tracy Ullman Show, To Catch a Predator, Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?, Wife Swap
The first time Jay Leno addressed the cancellation of his prime-time NBC talk show, he said, “I understand that Fox is beautiful this time of year.”
And all week, in the drama surrounding NBC’s boneheaded moves with its late-night programming, the Fox network has been mentioned as a primary suitor for Leno or Conan O’Brien, whichever one of its late-night stars ultimately leaves NBC.
Still, while two of the most powerful personalities in television cast longing glances toward Fox, there were references to “second-rate Fox” sprinkled around the Internet.
I thought about “second-rate Fox” last Sunday night while watching “The Simpsons’” 20th-anniversary specials.
The first family of Springfield emerged when Fox was indeed a second-rate network, programming just two hours of prime-time shows three nights a week. Homer and family, in fact, made history for Fox as its first show to break the top 30 in the Nielsen ratings.
As much as entertainment hounds like me loved “The Simpsons,” a spinoff of “The Tracy Ullman Show” and some of the network’s other options, the idea that it would compete with the Big Three networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — seemed far-fetched in the late 1980s.
How could you do that with only two hours of programming a few nights a week?
How could you do that with crazy stuff like a prime-time cartoon, that raunchy “Married … with Children” thing and that “reality show” COPS?
And where was the news, any news? Most of Fox’s stations were previously independent channels, and once 10 p.m. came, they went back to running syndicated shows, infomercials and other stuff. It seemed like a “network” only in the loosest sense of the term.
Then, things started happening.
Jan14Filed under: American Idol, Music, Television; Tagged as: American Idol, Ashley Rodriguez, Atlanta, Boston, Ellen DeGeneres, Fox, Hallelujah, Holly Harden, Kara DioGuardi, Kris Allen, Larry Platt, Leonard Cohen, Loretta Lynn, Maddy Curtis, Mary J. Blige, Pants on the Ground, Paula Abdul, Posh Spice, Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell, Skii Bo Ski, Vanessa Wolfe, Victoria Beckham
It was easy to get excited about season nine of “American Idol,” until the shows started.
Backstage intrigue has been at a fever pitch this year, with Paula Abdul exiting and Ellen DeGeneres entering, and speculation over whether Simon Cowell would make this season his last. Monday, he announced he would.
Tuesday, the show got started with the Boston auditions, and last night, we saw Atlanta.
Each night, we were reminded that we would have to wait for Ellen.
Since Paula was gone but Ellen had not been tapped by the time auditions started, the audition episodes will be featuring guest judges along with Simon, Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson.
In Boston, we got Victoria Beckham, aka Posh Spice, who spent most of the episode looking … posh. In terms of what producers showed us, Boston was a bit more of a talent night with voices like Maddy Curtis, who did a very mature version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” for a 16-year-old, and 22-year-old Ashley Rodriguez, who we can already see on album covers.
Atlanta was a bit more of an adventure with Mary J. Blige bringing a lot of personality to her guest judging stint, even grilling a few competitors and voting “no” against the other three judges’ yes votes for one competitor.
Two-thirds of the way through we got an interesting pair of contestants who walked in looking like freak shows but walked out with golden tickets. Skii Bo Ski of Orlando walked in talking a mile a minute with his name misspelled on his bowling shirt, but then he sang a nice rendition of “Heard it Through the Grapevine” that won most of the judges over. Before him was Holly Harden of Rockmart, Ga., who came in dressed as a guitar but sang an authoritative rendition of Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man.” Both probably don’t have shots at the top prize, but certainly need to lose their shticks if they want any hope of making the final 24.
My favorite audition so far also probably won’t make it to the end. But for a show that so aggressively tries to manipulate our emotions with stories of death and disease, I got about as close to tears as I ever have watching “Idol” seeing Vanessa Wolfe get her golden ticket. It wasn’t that she endured any great crisis or disease of the day. It was simply the emotion of watching this very small-town girl accomplish something far greater than she ever thought she would.
Of course, what everyone will talk about was “General” Larry Platt’s “Pants on the Ground.” At 62, he’s decades beyond the show’s maximum age of 28. But by putting him on at the end of the show, “AI” made him an instant Internet star.
But what this year’s audition episodes are beginning to show is that the formula is wearing thin, particularly without some interplay between Simon and Paula to spice up the judges desk. The train wrecks are just coming across as cruel, particularly the angry guy on Tuesday and last night’s kid from Anniston, Ala., who claimed he nearly died three times. The show lampooned that story in unfunny “cheap dramatizations.”
Knowing these people are selected in early auditions for mockery, you can’t help but think some of the “Idol” producers have a real sadistic streak. Of course, this has been Idol’s shtick for years, but it is more glaring without the millionaire, media savvy judges making fools of themselves too. And considering we barely got a glimpse of last year’s winner, Kris Allen, when he appeared at the Louisville auditions, it’s hard to see the value in slogging through five more audition cities. But we’ll try.
No Kentuckians appeared in either audition episode. It would appear our best chance after Atlanta will be next Tuesday, in Chicago.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich