Tuesday, April 28, 2015

On second thought...

Yesterday, I was out with my coworkers on our break. We were going up the hill, and passing the long line of cars that park along the street where we walk. This street is basically a private road, because the area it allows access to contains mostly county facilities: there's a fire station, and the Sheriff's Department training camp, for example. So for the most part, these cars belong to the trainees. We see the trainees themselves sometimes, either in black suits or workout gear, or full uniforms, running around carrying packs and gear. Once on a Friday I saw them all out en masse, running in formation out to the main boulevard. Whenever they're all on the sidewalk getting in or out of their cars, and they see us coming, one of them will shout, "Stand down!" and the rest will step aside so we can pass. It's very exciting, actually. They have a field there, and there's a helicopter pad too. They have a shooting range, and it can be disconcerting to hear the gunshots as I'm walking to HR or another of our buildings. It's a cool place to walk; there are a lot of things to look at. And, as we come down the hill, there's a good view of the 710 freeway and the smog over LA.

As I passed the line of cars yesterday, I noticed that one of them had a Morrissey sticker on the bumper. It was some kind of Toyota, pretty beat up. The first thought I had was, "Damn. Do we really want a Sheriff who's a Morrissey fan?"

And the second thought was, "Hell yes, we want a Sheriff who's a Morrissey fan!"

Wouldn't it be nice if all the world's crime fighters were inspired by animal lovers and pacifists?

(I read on Wikipedia that Morrissey has a history of being accused of being a racist. I don't know if this is true. I also read that he was absolved of this accusation. Wikipedia was my source for quick research; I am aware that it's not necessarily accurate or truthful, however, I choose to believe that the guy who wrote most of the songs that helped me survive the funk I was in for all of high school is probably imperfect, but kind and intelligent. You can think what you will.)


Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Voice Top 10 Live Show

It's a rainy Saturday, and I'm finally catching up on the past week's episodes. Jules and Patrick are playing out in the garage, and Patrick's playing something scary-sounding on the record player. Oh, wait, I think it's just Black Sabbath. Here goes my recap:

Again, Carson is yelling at me. But the audience is very loud, so I won't take it personally. After introducing the judges, Carson reminds us that two people are going home tonight And there are new people helping out the coaches. They're all producers:

Mark Ronson (DJ, producer, etc.) is Christina's guest coach. He worked with Amy Winehouse and Bruno Mars. He's also pretty cute.

Blake's guest coach is Scott Hendrix. Carson tells us how influential he is, and his success rate. Impressed.

Adam is using Dave Stewart! Adam says, "It's okay, really, he's just written every song." Dave looks really good too but I'm curious about what's under that hat.

Pharrell is using the lead singer from "One Republic" who is also a producer. I think his name is Ryan. No idea who this dude is. But success is success and he seems to have attained it.

All 10 artists come out to perform a medley of Elton John songs. This could potentially be terrible. Fingers crossed.

Corey and Sawyer start out great on "Rocket Man" but Deanna. No, girl. Just: no. Josh sounds smooth. India is also out of her element. All these people are wearing white pants. They sound good as a group.

Now they're doing "Saturday's Alright for Fighting." Hannah sounds possessed. Meghan looks great but I'm not sure if they're getting this key. Kimberly Nicole looks so good, but sounds just okay. And Rob, too, is doing a good job. Koryn is taking this in a lower register than sounds good?

If they only do two songs is it still a "medley"?

Carson is explaining something... and now it's Kimberly Nicole, Christina and Mark Ronson. I can't figure out his accent. I love, love love his hair. Kimberly is doing an Etta James song that Christina has a connection with, "Something's Got a Hold on Me." Mark is advising her that this song is all about melody, and giving some tips to the band, none of whom respond.

Kimberly Nicole's staging is pretty dramatic. She's reclining sideways on a funky red bench that looks like it came from a Prince video. She's all glittery and sparkly. No tutu today. Her voice sounds great but this doesn't sound modern or rock-infused, which was what I thought they said is what they were going for? Perhaps I wasn't listening well. A friend has been texting me. Blame that for any loss of attention. This lady can sing and the end gets really exciting but stylewise, I wish they'd done something different.

She has tears in her eyes at the end, and I, of course, love her for that.

Just as a side note, Christina's hair seems to have been flatironed to DEATH. And those extensions are way too long. It looks funny.

Pharrell's comments are great. I can't write anymore about them. He seems to love what he heard.
Adam looks terrible and he's very serious.
Christina (her coach) says, "You always bring it." She does. That's true.
Irene: I was not disappointed. She delivered a great performance. I'm just not sure her voice is the winning voice.

Josh, Adam and Dave are working together. Adam gave him a love song but I don't know what it is because the sound cut out. Adam is telling him to have faith that he can hit the notes. Dave likes his sincerity. And then Adam calls Joshua "dude" and the realness of that whole conversation died.

Okay, the song is called "Hold Back the River." I am unfamiliar with it. Josh is wearing a t-shirt and a vest. He sounds pretty good. And man, those eyes are KILLER. He looks a little like Bruce Springsteen. Is this Bruce's song? The phrasing of this song is weird. I think we've heard him sound better. I'm hearing limitations to his range. Adam makes yet another bad song choice.

I love that they have the drummer out. I love when the band is onstage.

Blake: He seems to like the performance but sees that the song pushed him vocally. Blake thinks it was okay but I don't know.
Pharrell: He thought it was good to show his range of songs he can sing, but I don't think it was complimentary to Josh's abilities.
Adam: Adam really looks bad. He says the risk didn't totally pay off. What a great coach. Hashtag sarcasm.
Irene: Josh is good. But I think this is it for him. His pitch was really loose.

Now some people from some shows are in the audience.

Now Blake, Scott, and Hannah are working together. Blake calls her "America's Favorite." Hannah chooses another song from the 80s: "Shout," by Tears for Fears. Scott just referred to Hannah as "possessed." DID I NOT SAY THAT EARLIER? Blake wants to take the song in a military vein. He also wants to strip the 80s-ness from it, which I think is an excellent idea.

Just to put my opinion out there, I wish she would choose songs that were not quite so well-known. "Pale Shelter" or "Woman in Chains," maybe? She clearly wants drama.... I'd even settle for "Head Over Heels." There would be opportunities there for her that would be more interesting to me.

Okay let's see this interpretation. Oh. Marching band drummers on stage? Yes, please. They're not doing much but they look good. Hannah is doing a good job - her range is wide and she sounds strong. But the same old 80s melody is 100% intact, and I wish they'd done something with it. You can tell she's having fun, which I appreciate.

Christina: She says Hannah is growing up right before her eyes and becoming a superstar. She likes how she sings from her "core" and likes her Janet Jackson-inspired outfit.
Pharrell: Pharrell says he thinks it's awesome that she makes every song her own. Well. Maybe not as much as he thinks. He thinks she's a great performer.
Blake: Blake calls her a freak of nature, which is an odd compliment. Pharrell thinks "Freak of Nature" should be Hannah's album title.

Okay, it's Megan's turn. She knows it's a big deal to meet Scott Hendrix. She chose "Home" by someone I don't know. I guess it's a Louisiana-themed song, which is where she's from. It sounds bluesy and deep, which I like. Scott thinks it's missing something and seems to hit it with some of his Scott Hendrix magic, or at least that's what I think I'm seeing.

Meghan's performance starts with her and a guitarist I don't recognize from the Voice band. She sounds really, really good. I love the break in her voice. Man I wish I could sing like that.

Carson says, at the end, "Meghan Linsey is not messing around!"

Christina: Christina loves that she laid it all out there.
Adam: Adam name drops the original singer and then says she blew him away. He says it was her best performance. I agree.
Blake says Meghan told him she thought it was going to be good, and he's talking about her newfound confidence. How someone that talented could suffer from a lack of confidence is always eye opening to me.

Next: Pharrell and Ryan Tedder (?), and Koryn are up. I may have misspelled this dude's name. Koryn is excited. She's going to do "Make it Rain." Ed Sheeran is someone I only know from this show. I don't hate him. Ryan says Koryn gave him goosebumps. She sounds good in rehearsal. Ryan wants some falsetto, which Koryn doesn't think she can do. There's some nice vocal coaching happening here: this guy is good.

Oh, Koryn sounds so good. I think she and Meghan are my favorites so far. And this performance just started. She really seems lost in this song. This girl is so good! She's doing two things they always talk about: her eyes are mostly closed, and she's "just standing there" but I always get so frustrated when the coaches discuss staging and that kind of thing in the coaching sessions.

Carson reminds us that she is 16 years old. This time her young age and talent is significant.

Blake: Blake recognizes that all the performances tonight are so good. And he called her "sis."
Christina: Christina says this was her best performance, a great song choice, and refers to her "old soul."
Pharrell: Pharrell seems very happy. He says she has earned the title "inspirational singer." Koryn looks truly affected. She's so cute.
Irene: Yeah. She's very, very good.

Carson is in the skybox now, and this part of the show always bores me. Also the twitter feed. Lame. Also when Adam comments on his "bromance" with Blake. Blake says "this is easily the dumbest conversation that has ever happened on national television." Agreed.

Now it's Deanna's turn with Adam and Dave. This should be interesting. Deanna is doing "Somebody to Love." Finally some Grace Slick. Didn't I ask for this with someone? Oh: Sarah, I think. Still. Adam wants to "Florence and the Machine/Eurythmics" it up. No idea what this mean. Dave says she's a rock singer. Again, that might be the way to sell this girl to me.

She starts out great. She's beautiful of course. This is her song. I just wish every note didn't bleed into the next. She seems to have forgotten the words or where she's supposed to be going at one point? Not sure. The guitarist was nice and nodded at her. Whatever happened seems to have been fixed. Even when she hits us with some dynamics, I'm still a little underwhelmed.

Christina: She says "Wow!" and asks how she felt. Deanna says it was hard. Christina could tell that it was a different thing for her, and then comments on the outfit. What does that mean?
Adam: Adam has his patronizing voice on. He says it looks like she's having fun. And then talks about her confidence issues again. Stop it, dude.
Irene: OK. This is probably her last week but I've been wrong about her before.

Rob is up next with Mark and Christina. Christina brings up Rob's piano playing. Rob wants to do a song by Donnie Hathaway. I don't know this song. Mark seems impressed.

Rob starts out on the piano, and sounds so good. I love his voice. He's really dramatic. Not sure about the falsetto at the bottom.

Carson hugs him at the end. Cute.

Pharrell: Pharrell is happy for him (bro). He has things to say about Rob's technique. Good things. He says it was masterful.
Christina: She saw the emotion and vulnerability, and the connection with his estranged dad. She calls him "special and rare."
Irene: It was good.

I think Carson just called Corey "the King of Country." Really??

Corey is excited to meet Scott. He knows who he is. Corey picked "Unwound," which is a George Strait song. Blake things Corey needs to rock out and Scott is hearing it but not seeing it. Blake says the girls love him, and maybe he should put the guitar down so he can feel up some girls in the audience. That's maybe not what he said exactly.

Corey sounds great. It's a fun song, obviously. He shakes some hands and walks around, and he has a great big ol' smile on his face. He's adorable. And therefore, I think maybe too young or something to win - he's cute, he's skilled, but there's another door he has to open in his performances.

The audience is screaming its head off.

Adam: Adam calls him "man" and "captain consistent."
Blake: Blake calls him "dude" and I guess Corey made a mistake in the lyrics. He's glad Corey "kept on truckin'."
Irene: He needs something else. I dont know what yet.

Now we get Sawyer Fredericks. Sawyer, Ryan and Pharrell are excited about Sawyer's iTunes success. Sawyer has no complaints. He's doing a Goo Goo Dolls song, "Iris." This is a pretty song. Lame, but pretty. Sawyer has thoughts about the chorus. Pharrell just says the phrase "emotional rapport." Huh. Ryan likes Sawyer's voice a lot, and compares him to Ray Lamontagne.

They're rearranged the song but I don't hate it. He sounds good. The strings are wonderful. This is a love song, and he said right up front that he had never been in love, but the lyrics aren't necessarily directed at a woman, I don't think. He has a connection to the music without that being a problem. I think he missed an opportunity to walk around a bit but his big eyes pull me in.

Carson thanks the string section.

Blake: Blake mentions how strong Sawyer's voice is. He suggests that they haven't talked about this aspect of his voice before, but I beg to differ. I think you have, Blake.
Christina: Christina says she's a big fan. She says a couple of times that it was "nice," but then says it was "awesome."
Pharrell: Pharrell congratulates him, and says the whole room felt it "when you hit the thrust on that big note." I like that.
Irene: There were some parts that were a little too slow, a little too low. Man, I have sung this song in the car, in the shower: it gets boring. His voice is not boring. It was good, very good, and I love him, but I don't know. This wasn't my favorite performance.

India is next with a Whitney song. This does not surprise me. She walks in with Mark and Christina and I swear to god, Mark sounds drunk. So, Christina assigned "Run to You" and apparently India has some bad memories about this song. Mark wants some Whitney-esque falsetto. And they're telling her to throw away her training.

India has full-on Beyonce hair all of a sudden, and I fucking hate it. I think she has a really nice voice. I just don't think she's good enough yet for these songs. Maybe she needs to be quieter. She's good! She's just yelling at me now, slightly off key, and it's bugging me.

Pharrell: He was impressed with one of her runs.
Adam: Adam calls her "man." No, just kidding. Adam says "that was crazy."
Christina: Christina says her voice is beautiful, and that she conquered this song. I wouldn't go that far, Christina.
Irene: This is not my favorite performer. I think I've said all I should say.














Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Voice - Top 12 Results

I'm still home sick today - I still can't talk. However, I can watch and listen. And type, obviously. I woke up early to watch this! So let's see if my predictions were right:

The show opens loudly. And Carson is yelling at me. The Top 12 are on stage.

Nick Jonas will perform. I cannot contain my excitement.

Oh, ssh, now Nick is onstage "Gave her my heart but she wanted my soul." Don't we all want that, Nick? His outfit reminds me vaguely of workout wear. It's slightly annoying that his black t-shirt doesn't match the gray of the jacket and pants. The background dancers are dressed like crowd control police officers, with clear shields and batons. Now a very pretty dancer is flailing her arms and crawling around on the ground by Nick. This song is nothing special. I mean, it's better than I expected, so that's something. I don't know anything about Nick Jonas. Is he a nice kid?

Special Announcement from Carson: The artists saved next week get to work with guest advisers:

Adam's team: Dave Stewart! Someone from Monday totally reminded me of Annie Lennox but I didn't say anything and now I can't remember who it was. It's that Dave Stewart, right?
Pharrell: Ryan Someone. I should know who this is, maybe?
Christina: Mark Ronson
Blake: Scott Hendricks

The Top 12 are back on stage. Carson has the names of three artists who are safe:

1. (Team Christina) Kimberly Nicole. This is not a surprise!
2. (Team Pharrell) Sawyer Fredericks. This is also not a surprise!
3. (Team Blake) Meghan Linsey. Hey. These three are great!

And... in the audience: the cast of some show I haven't watched. Okay. Thanks.

Corey, Meghan and Hannah, and Blake sing "In the Midnight Hour." Great, now I want to watch "The Commitments." Corey is singing to Hannah, and I like it. Now Hannah is putting her spell on Blake, and I think he forgot to come in when he was supposed to. I love the horn section. Is Meghan rolling her eyes? Sometimes when they do these old songs and break them up like this, the song stops making sense. Meghan looks pretty.

Now the remaining 9 are on stage. Carson is using his dramatic pauses effectively. He announces that the following artists are safe:

4. (Team Adam) Joshua Davis
5. (Team Christina) India Carney! Whoa. What?
6. (Team Blake) Hannah Kirby! Yay!

Everyone else is still at risk for elimination! Well, yes. That is why we are here.

India, Kimberly, Rob and Christina are going to perform "Hotel California." What? Christina sounds really good. This song is so lame, though. Seriously. I like the double guitar, though. Nice touch. I mean, who can't sing this song? But who wants to? And India is back in the leather jacket. Why, India? Why?

Now highlights from "behind the voice." Hannah is a writer. Okay, I l officially ove her now. Corey isn't done with school yet? What is he getting his degree in. Sawyer has been wearing hats since he was 11. Aw, all of five years. Rob and Kimberly are BFFs. Meghan has been asked to dumb herself down. Her other statements (possibly out of context) aren't making me love her. Koryn feels blessed.

Next, more saves.

7. (Team Pharrell) Koryn Hawthorne
8. (Team Christina) Rob Taylor
9. (Team Blake) Corey Kent White

Now, Deanna, Brian and Mia Z. have to sing it out so they can stay. Pharrell is selling Mia Z's talent. Team Adam is decimated. Adam is trying to be diplomatic about Brian and Deanna.

Mia Z. is singing "Stormy Sunday." I do not know this song. I can't understand a word she is saying. Her tone is pretty... but she could just be mumbling right now. I think I need subtitles.

Carson got the title wrong. It's "Stormy Monday." Pharrell is telling us she's special and different and deserves our support.

Brian is singing "Amazed." By Poe? No... it sounds like Bryan Adams? He sounds good. I love his little smile. Love songs like this are good for him. He seems so sweet. I want the best for this guy.

Adam starts a sentence with "Listen," which is a pet peeve of mine. Adam says Brian's performance was "amazing." Oh, and he also said "At the end of the day..." which is another pet peeve. At least he didn't say "it is what it is."

Deanna is doing a song called "It Will Rain." Dang girl. LEGS. This song is about drugs? Was this her blind audition song? She's singing it like she knows it, and it makes a difference, because I like it. Though I'm not sure the backup singers can catch all her notes. Maybe she doesn't even know which note she's going for.

Adam is telling her whole life story. And talking about fear and confidence building and how petrified she is. I'm not sure that telling us all this is doing Deanna any favors.

Now it's time for the Instant Save. I would choose Brian, but you knew that, didn't you.

I'm not going to comment on Pharrell's or Adam's "last words." They're just killing time, and Adam annoys me with almost every word.

Carson announces that the time has come! The artist saved is...

DEANNA.

You know what? Okay. I get it. She's so pretty, and there's something there. I wish she had a different coach, though.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Voice - Top 12 Live Show

So, apparently the only way I can get these recaps written in real time is to stay home sick. Now, when I say "real time," I mean, the next day after the show aired live, because it's Tuesday morning. And when I say "sick," I've had laryngitis since Sunday morning. I have a Kaiser appointment later.

The show starts with the teaser about Reba McEntire being the guest coach this week. I won't lie: I love Reba. I loved her dumb show (and yes, it was dumb, but so entertaining). She has a big goofy smile and a killer voice, and I love her. She's also apparently ageless. What the hell, lady? She looks good. Carson asks Blake what he thinks: Blake rambles a little about how great Reba is.

First up is Hannah Kirby. She's adorable. Blake calls her "different." And she's doing my favorite Stevie Nicks song, "Edge of Seventeen." Reba tells her to be clearer with the words "edge of seventeen." I wish someone had told Stevie that, too.

This might be the perfect song for her. I wish she had more time to interact with the guitar player, and I don't really like the way they've edited the song.

Pharrell says: Now everything she's been doing makes sense.
Adam says: She's an amazing singer. Yes - she is, Adam!
Blake (her coach): Blake doesn't know how she could possibly be better.
Irene: She's the real deal. That last note was killer.

Next is Brian Johnson. He's so excited to meet Reba. His mom used to play Reba in the car on the way to preschool, so now I have to remember to be careful with the music I play in the car. Adam gave him "If I Ever Lose My Faith" by Sting. Why are they choosing these horrible Sting songs? There are a few good ones. This isn't one of them. Brian's not doing great in rehearsal. He said he's getting negative comments online? I love this guy. He's so good! All the haters: shut it.

Brian's performance is feeling a bit strained. I think he's struggling a little, and that makes me sad. This was a bad song choice, Adam. I like having the drums on stage, though. He sounds okay but I'm worried.

Blake: Blake is more positive than I am. Good. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope so! He says, "Your voice is so good it distorted the microphone." That's good?
Christina: She didn't hear any struggle onstage. She thinks he's making good strides.
Adam (his coach): Adam is proud. "Singing Sting is hard." Adam thinks he conquered the issues.
Irene: I don't know, dude. I have concerns. This guy should be exuding confidence: he's good. Adam made a bad song selection.

India Carney is up next. Her hair is up and curly and she looks beautiful. Christina gave her "Take Me to Church." I am so tired of this song. Christina thinks this is a "rock song." Really, Christina? Reba wants it to be grittier, evil. I think that's the only way to make this song interesting to me.

She starts out really good. So far this might be the best I've ever heard her sing. Oh. But then the band comes in. I don't know about India. Her tone is different but I always feel like she's muffled somehow. Everyone else seems to love her voice.

Pharrell: Pharrell thinks she sounds like a pro and seemed comfortable onstage.
Adam: Adam refers to her fans as evidence that she is going to break through. Maroon 5 has fans: doesn't make them good.
Blake: Blake wants to take her to church but I don't think that's what the song means, Blake. And then he called her "sis."
Christina (her coach): Christina said she saw a different person onstage. She liked the connection with the audience.
Irene: Eh. Though, big kudos to the costumers. She's beautiful and that's a killer outfit.

Mia Z. is up. Mia is growing on me. Mia's reaction to Reba is subdued. Pharrell gives her "Miss You" by the Rolling Stones. See, Adam? This is how you match a song to a singer, though Reba and Pharrell can't understand the words. I never understand Mick on this one, either.

I kind of wish it sounded like Mia had been singing this song for years: it doesn't. She sounds good, though. Where's the break? They did it, but just barely. She's losing the fun beat of this song; it's too smooth.

Adam: Adam agrees that it was a good choice. Duh, Adam. This is how it's done. I hope you're writing this down.
Blake: Blake loves how inventive she is with the melody. I do wish she'd done more with the rhythm, too.
Christina: Agrees with Blake. She likes that she used the highest notes possible.
Pharrell (her coach): Pharrell wants to make sure she had fun. Pharrell loved it.
Irene: It was okay. She's talented but maybe needs some more coaching, or music training. Singing isn't just melody and words: it's feeling the beat. Maybe she does that. I just get a little bored.

Deanna Johnson is next. Deanna says she is the biggest Reba fan on the planet. I hope Reba has some good tips for her. Adam gives her a Christian song. Did I miss something? Her last song was Christian-y. Deanna is concerned too. And yet she thinks Adam is a genius with song selection. Yeah, no, Deanna.

Deanna. They're trying to turn her into an angel. I don't get her at all. But goddamn she's beautiful. There is probably an audience for her voice. I am not it.

Blake: Blake couldn't hear everything. He sees her confidence. That's a nice comment.
Christina: She also couldn't hear everything. She likes the song choice.
Pharrell: Pharrell is concerned that the girl who auditioned is the same girl who performed after that. But now she's the same girl. What?
Adam (her coach): Okay, there were technical issues on set. Adam couldn't be prouder.
Irene: I could be convinced if I hear her sing something else. Maybe she needs to rock out.

Sawyer Fredericks is next. My favorite! He apparently has no reaction to Reba, or they didn't film it. He's been given "Imagine" by John Lennon. Did Sawyer win the lottery too? He loves the song and Reba thinks he's powerful, and then he giggles. Reba tells him to smile, to show his soul through his eyes. Dude. I'm sure he's already got girls propositioning him on Instagram.

His guitar playing is so good. And the changes to rhythm and melody are LOVELY. Normally I hate that with these classic songs but damn, kid. It was good.

Adam: I'm sure he's going to comment on his age. Or compare himself to Sawyer. And yes, and yes.
Blake: Blake refers to the loss of voice on the "you-hoo," and then comments on how he made it seem like he intended for that to happen. Yes! This is what musicians should be able to do. Make even the mistakes sound right. This kid is real.
Christina: Christina caught it too. Didn't everyone? She applauds his ability to make it sound natural.
Pharrell: Pharrell is proud, and glad Sawyer knows how to play the mistakes. He's happy.
Irene: Last season I loved Taylor John Williams: these guys are similar, but I'm even more into Sawyer. Next week I bet they give him an Arlo Guthrie song to sing. Or an Oingo Boingo song. "Little Girls," of course. (That's sort of a joke.) What can't he do?

Rob Taylor is up, and excited to hug Reba. Christina gives Rob my favorite song, "I Put a Spell on You." Christina is a genius. Reba wants to make sure Rob does something different. Christina wants Rob to push it as far as he can. Reba thinks Rob made a connection with her. I like that.

Rob has some cool Pink Floyd graphics behind him. His little laugh in the beginning is RAD. Rob is really making this song exciting. He sounds so good! And the arrangement is great: good job, whoever.

Pharrell looks stunned - all the judges stand at the end.

Pharrell: Seems speechless... and then talks. Says he was masterful.
Adam: Adam thinks Rob pulled ahead of everyone else so far.
Christina (his coach): Christina says she is speechless... and then talks. She loves Rob's interpretation and performance. She says he was "free and in the moment."
Irene: Damn! This was wonderful. This song is powerful, and Rob did a great job selling it.

Corey Kent White is next. He's happy to meet the queen of country. He seems awed to be there. Blake gave him a song I don't know but wants him to be a "bad boy." I think that's a good idea. Reba likes his sincerity.

I don't even know what to write. He's exactly what a country singer should look and sound like.

Christina: Christina knows the girls like him. Says it was really really nice.
Adam: Feels like Corey is so close to something he couldn't express in any kind of way.
Blake (his coach): Agrees with Adam, whatever it was Adam said. Notes that Corey's singing wasn't perfect, but thinks Corey is going to get to the point where he's even better.
Irene: There were pitchy moments. I read a comment on last week's recap on the LA Times where some troll was so disgusted that the other country singer (the guy with the awful mustache, and the hat) was sent home instead of Corey, that this dude said "I'll never watch the Voice again!" Hey, man, that's probably fine with everyone. I like Corey. He's a little too cute, do you know what I mean?

Now: Koryn Hawthorne. She's so bubbly and sweet. Pharrell says she's inspirational. Koryn chose a song I don't know. Could it be a Kelly Clarkson song? Koryn has arranged the song, apparently. She's talking to the band: I like that.

Koryn has that same tonal quality that India has, vocally. I prefer Koryn, though: she's stronger. She picked a good song for herself. She sounds fun, and really good. This is the type of "rock song" India should've done, and in this same style. She put tears in my eyes. I'm dumb.

Blake: He says, "She has made the most out of a second chance."
Christina: Christina sees her confidence and compared her to Tina Turner.
Pharrell (her coach): He loves the "soundwave" her voice creates. Says she's an inspiration.
Irene: She did great. I wouldn't buy her album: but she's a great singer and deserves to make one.

It's time for Joshua Davis. He's doing a Simon and Garfunkel song. What a surprise. Where's my campfire? Actually, I love this song. Reba likes his smile and twinkly eyes. Me too. Adam takes the guitar away: this could be a good idea. Reba says it makes him "nekkid." And... Adam compares himself to Joshua. NO! Adam. Shut up about YOURSELF.

I like Joshua's breathy take on this. He doesn't seem to know what to do with his hands. That's understandable. He sounds really good! I want to know what else he can do, though. These folk songs are beautiful and perfect but...

Blake: BLAKE DOESN'T KNOW THIS SONG. His excuse? "I'm a hillbilly." Blake thinks Joshua could have written this song. That is a huge compliment.
Christina: She knows getting rid of the guitar was hard.
Pharrell: Thought this was the best performance yet. He thinks he connected with the lyric.
Adam (his coach): Adam wants to make sure he does what Joshua wants. He says "It was perfect." And then he shut up. That part was perfect for me.
Irene: Beautifully sung. This guy has gorgeous eyes. But what else can he do? Seriously. If he makes it to next week I really want him to take a different type of song and put his Joshua on it, but be different. Otherwise I might be getting bored.

Meghan Linsey is next... Reba is thrilled to death. Blake gave her his favorite country song on the radio: "Girl Crush" by Little Big Town. I don't know this song but I've heard of this band. Reba wants more drama and for her to bare her soul.

Meghan sounds really good. And this is a great song. Oh! And then she hits a killer long note: this thing might be over. She's so good. I don't think she did exactly what Blake and Reba wanted but still really, really good.

Pharrell: Pharrell says she nailed it.
Adam: Adam says she reminds her of him. Oh, no, he didn't say that. He says she's amazing, and that she killed it, and then his stupid robot voice kicked in.
Blake (her coach): Blake thinks this might be her breakout moment. I think so too. He calls her "sis."
Irene: I will buy this. She was wonderful.

Kimberly Nichole is doing "House of the Rising Sun." I was just talking about this song with someone. It's a great song.  Reba points out that there are many levels of intensity with this song: I hope Kimberly hears that.

I love how they're making the beginning so dark. Shit. And now she hit that note: she's kicking ass. NOW this thing is over. If she keeps this up? She will win.

Pharrell: Pharrell was standing for most of her performance. He said "There are no words."
Adam: Adam says, "What?" Pithy idiot.
Blake: Blake thinks Christina might win with her. Yep.
Christina: She loved the interpretation.
Irene: This song isn't new or exciting but Kimberly did such a wonderful job on it. I actually rolled it back and watched it again. You can tell she loved doing it. That is so cool that she got that chance.

So, if I have to make a prediction: Deanna and Brian will go home tonight. Possibly Corey. Meghan, Rob, Kimberly and Koryn should be at the top. We'll see if I'm right later.

Well, at some point while writing this, I went to the doctor for my laryngitis. He has put me off work today and tomorrow... so it looks like I'll get to write about the results show that is on tonight, tomorrow. I did not plan this. Seriously. I didn't.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

This is the Voice. Oh, wait, no it isn't - it's just me.

I've been watching the Voice again this season, but unfortunately I'm not able to tune in when the show is actually on so I keep up thanks to Hulu.

The live shows start tomorrow, though, and I keep thinking I'd like to live blog them. In anticipation of my having time to do that (as unlikely as that is), I offer my opinion on the show and the contestants thus far.

The Judges:

Blake: I love him. I have a feeling Blake doesn't say everything he really thinks - his on-air personality feels a bit manufactured sometimes. I don't know anything about him as a country singer or performer or a celebrity. Aside from knowing he's married to Miranda Lambert and he acts like he drinks a lot, I don't know anything about him as a person, either. His opinions and instincts most of the time mirror mine, but since I'm nobody and he's a star, this doesn't matter very much for me. I believe that he has the strongest team.

Christina: Man, she's talented. Her music isn't the kind of thing I like now, or ever did, even when I was younger, but I am so impressed with her. She's smart. She knows music. She's a great coach. She has the second strongest team, I think. Again: not my kind of thing but my personal tastes in music have nothing to do with who should win this show. Obviously.

Adam: He's an attention whore. His fake feud with Blake is annoying and his stupid comments are the worst. He sort of knows music (though, his advice to that kid who sang the Pearl Jam song made me cringe) and that's fine but I think what he really knows and excels at, is getting people to look at him. He's educated himself about music enough to get to where he is, and he can sing the sort of songs he sings and that's fine, but I'm not buying whatever he's selling. However, his team has most of my favorites, so I'm going to have to be sure I can fully justify any mean comments I have to make about him.

Pharrell: He had the most interesting team, but the kids he has left are, for me, except for one major exception, forgettable. If one of them wins this show I will be shocked, though it would be totally due to his coaching and bringing something out in them they weren't going to reveal on their own. His advice and sort of Jedi-master style are wonderful. He seems like a fun guy, who has a love for music, and for the contestants on the show. Maybe in real life he's an asshole (how would I know?) but I don't think so. Well, I hope not. I'd like to hang out with him and just listen to him talk.

The Contestants

Team Blake

Brooke: She can sing, but I don't think the song choices have been quite right, yet. She's so young, it's hard to say what she can do.

Hannah: Love her. Though whoever let her choose that 80s song (and now I can't remember what it was. "I Wanna Know What Love Is"? It was something horrible) did her a great disservice. Oh: it was "Higher Love." I don't think Steve Winwood songs are going to have a revival. There could be a taste issue here. Her attitude and smile are infectious, though. She's a very good singer, and a fun performer to watch. She truly is "not like anyone else," as the judges are so fond of telling these people.

Meghan: I was really disappointed when she said she was going to do "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." These singing shows are so much like karaoke, and that song in particular is a cliche for strong female singers. Yes, she killed it: she had to, didn't she? To fall down on that one would've been career suicide. But if she'd killed us with something less obvious I think I would respect her more.

Corey: I feel like Corey is learning how to use his emotions to sell a song. Now: he's an experienced performer, so maybe he knew this already. He has a lovely voice, isn't ugly, and seems to be really learning things and growing as a performer. I look forward to his performances.

Sarah: I feel like I've seen and or heard this woman before. That's not bad. She's fine. Maybe I'm really feeling her Grace Slick vibe and I'm surprised no one else has mentioned it. I like Grace Slick, that's not a slam. I'd like to see what else she can do.

Team Christina

India: I loved her bio when they introduced her. She started out interesting. Her voice is lovely, but she's just not a compelling performer. And look, I know this is superficial, but I preferred her personal style. That leather jacket they keep showing her in drives me crazy.

Kimberly: She could be so good! Again, I think the song choices are hurting her. "If You Love Somebody" is the weakest Sting song ever. Well, maybe not ever. She should have sung something else from that album. "Consider Me Gone" would've been my choice for her. Even I can sing that song. Imagine what someone with talent could do with it?

Lexi: She has a great story, and can sing. Other than that I haven't been blown away, yet.

Rob: Dude has some awesome hair. He's not perfect but he feels it when he sings: you can tell. I think his future performances might be surprising. He kind of snuck in there, didn't he?

Sonic: Okay, look. I don't want to be mean. But Sonic has been oversold, don't you think? She's fine, I guess, but what she's trying to accomplish... well, I don't think she has the chops for the type of songs she's been singing.

Team Adam

Brian: I love this guy. Seriously. From his blind audition to now, he hasn't done one thing wrong. I just love his voice.

Deanna: I like her unusual voice, but sometimes she sounds too much like Cher when she sings. That's not a terrible thing but it is distracting.

Nathan: Another one! I loved his blind audition, too. This kid could make me cry with his voice. He could, but he hasn't yet. But he's so close! He also seems like he's having so much fun. Enjoy it, kid, you're doing a great job.

Tonya: I love her story! Teaching music to people in jail is such an honorable thing to do. And she's fun to watch and listen to. I think she's saving up something special for the live shows.

Joshua: He needs to be careful: he's a great singer, but he's kind of treading the line over to campfire song territory. I'd like to hear him rock out. Another one of my favorites.

Team Pharrell

Caitlin: Caitlin has failed to make an impression on me.

Lowell: Lowell has failed to make an impression on me.

Mia Z. - Mia can sing but I think, again, that she's not as great as the show wants me to think it thinks she is.

Koryn: Koryn has failed to make an impression on me.

Sawyer: I LOVE SAWYER. He's so good! He chooses unusual songs and he has so much personality and creativity when he sings. He's my favorite, I love his performances!

Okay, well, I've wasted enough time (mine and yours) with this. If I can manage it, I'll live blog tomorrow night. If not, I'll make comments as I catch up on Hulu.



Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Things that happen.

Some people might think I've made a mistake by posting this. I might be one of them. On the other hand, I wrote it, and though it's taking a while to click "Publish," I know that once I do, I'll probably be glad it's out there and done.

The other day, I heard a sad story on the radio during my drive home. I'm smart: usually I change the station when the sad stories come on, and this was so obviously going to be one of those right from the start that I don't know what was wrong with me, because I let myself listen.

The story was about a woman who has metastatic cancer. She got her diagnosis 15 years ago, and since then, has had recurring treatments and appointments every six months. Her cancer will recede, and then it will come back. 15 years of chemo and whatever - it is taking a toll on her, as you might imagine. She's 71 now and you could tell she's depressed (she also says straight out: "I'm depressed," which I thought was brave), but still smart and funny. Her naturally vibrant personality was obvious, but her kids and her husband see the change in her.

But she's here.

I heard it fairly late in my commute. It made me cry a little, but I knew I had to stop by the time I got home. Patrick was cooking dinner when I walked in the door, and I told him I'd "heard a sad story" on the radio. He was busy, and he said, "I never listen to sad stories." I heard Jules playing in the living room, and I didn't know what else to say, so I went to our bedroom to change clothes and then hung out and played with Jules. The rest of the night was normal.

The next morning when I was back in the car was not.

Somewhere between the 605 freeway and my office (that's about 15-20 minutes of driving, depending on traffic), I lost it. I'm not sure what the trigger was. Oh: yes I do. It was that Jason Isbell song "Elephant." (There is something about his voice that always makes me emotional anyway. It's so beautiful and sad. It's hard to imagine how he wrote it, or if he really lived that story. I follow him on Twitter and he's obviously more than his beautiful sad voice: the guy is smart, and funny, too.) Anyway, I finally arrived at work and I sat there for a long time in the parking lot, crying.

I miss my mom so much, and some days are harder than others. These moments seem to be happening a bit more frequently. I don't remember what all the stages of grief are (a hundred years ago, I read that Kubler-Ross book at the register while working in some bookstore, for no good reason), but sometimes I worry that I'm getting worse. It seems to me that's not how it's supposed to work. I mean, I do have totally normal days and nights - lots of them. I have days like this, too. I don't really know what normal is, as far as this stuff goes, so it would probably be best to try to stop worrying about it and just accept that this is the way I'm going to be for a while. It's only been 8 months, and maybe my expectations of what this is "supposed" to feel like are unrealistic. I heard someone say that you never get over the loss of a parent - hearing that was hard. Never. You never get over it? I don't want to think about it that way.

(I don't want to get over it. I just want it to stop feeling like I've been run over by a truck.)

It isn't just music that starts this feeling, either. I was watching that show "A Chef's Life" on PBS, and there's something about Vivian Howard's mother that reminds me of my own. Something about the way she handed her daughter - a successful chef with her own restaurant and television show - a hairbrush, on camera, that reminded me of my mother. Vivian's comment, "Oh, so you think my hair is messy?" or something like that, was so much gentler than how I would have responded, but it was still very familiar. My mother was commenting on my hair until she stopped commenting on anything. I had to stop watching. It's the same with those old episodes of Martha Stewart's original cooking show when she had her mother on. These women had the type of mom I recognize and respect, and miss.

I've considered not posting this many times. It's been a draft for almost a full week. I don't want anyone to worry about me; I don't want to post things that are so obviously personal and emotional because maybe I should keep those things private. Maybe I should be more self-protective with this stuff. But protected from what? I guess I'll find out.

I texted a friend while I was sitting there in my car that day. It was basically the skeleton of this whole story (sometimes my texts, which by necessity are shorter and simpler than these posts, are just better writing. For one thing, they contain fewer parentheses), and even though there was no response right away, after I sent the texts I felt ready to go upstairs. For instance, I was able to joke about inexplicably not having any Kleenex in the car (I said, "And I don't have any goddamn Kleenex."); I kind of knew I was going to be okay at that moment. I wiped my eyes with my hand, maybe a little bit on my sleeve, and I got out of the car. Later, my friend told me I was "strong" to do that. I don't think so. I think I was just surviving it in the simplest way I could. A little dramatic, but short-lived just then. Until the next time, I guess.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Hey lady, why don't you take a hike?

I am back to having every other Friday off, so this morning I woke up early so I could take my son to school. I haven't been able to do that in a long time; I was happy about it. Due to my schedule and my office's inflexibility about being on time (I mean, really. The nerve!), it's better if my husband takes him, and picks him up. When I got to do it in the past, I would always take a nice long walk afterward. I like that part, too. So, earlier in the week I had asked, via Facebook, if any of the parents at his school could recommend a good area to hike or walk nearby, and one of them told me about the Dominguez Gap.

It was a little hard to find - despite having a great Yelp page, the Yelp directions are not rooted in reality. However, the Yelpers were kind enough to give better directions, and after a wrong turn or two, I found it. It's in a weird area: between the 710 freeway/LA River, and a trailer park. There's also the bike path, and the Blue Line off in the distance. I felt a little uneasy at first - I wished I'd had a dog or a friend along with me - but after a while I relaxed and just walked and looked around.

There is a marshy area that stretches along the path. I can't call the 3 miles (I traveled one portion twice) I walked an official "hike" because half of it was paved, but there was some wildlife and flowers and plants, and I have quite a few little rocks and pebbles in my shoes. It really was beautiful. Next time I will bring a hat, though, because there isn't a lot of shade.

I saw:
  • Two dudes on horses having a rather inappropriate conversation
  • Three other solo walkers - all walking in the opposite direction
  • Two dog walkers - one leashed, one not (the dogs, not the walkers)
  • One runner
  • Countless ducks and little birds
  • Four lizards
  • Dozens of butterflies
  • Three dragonflies - one flew beside me for quite a while
  • The Italian cycling team (hey, it could've been. I think it's been too long since I saw "Breaking Away")
I said hello to everyone I passed, except the runner, because he appeared to be in pain. Also he was wearing headphones, and I doubt he would have heard me. I figured by saying hello, a murderer or rapist might be put off by blatant friendliness and rethink his or her path in life.

I used to just walk the residential area near the school because the homes there are huge, obviously expensive, and beautiful. I will admit that I probably prefer eyeballing the rich houses to this sort of isolated, possibly artificial, but still lovely, wilderness. It's good to have an alternative, though, and I did feel a bit more meditative and peaceful than usual.

Afterwards I drove to Starbucks and got an iced Cafe Americano; that feeling might be short lived.