Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Precious Night With Caley

Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams, aka "Caley", have been bestest musical buddies since they met as contestants on American Idol Season X, and last night they teamed up for a most enjoyable night of playful banter, music and fan interaction on the set of the hip new pay-per-view online music platform, Stageit. 

Both have done Stageit in the past, but this was the first time they collaborated on one. They nailed it, too. A 51 minute set-mix of their own originals and unique covers gave the Caley-crazed audience a lot of great material to instant message about. 

Haley was typically gorgeous as hell, and her voice was absofuckinglutely, posifuckingtively immaculate bell-to-bell. Casey showed he can do everything musical, with a mastery of multiple musical instruments, solid singing, and a very chill, hipster-doofus vibe that you couldn't help but dig. No manic, wild-eyed Casey here...dude was a total pro.

Opening with a half-serious, but charming, Monster Mash intro, they then transitioned into a most excellent cover of the Weezer's laid back groove Islands in the Sun. It was such great shit I messaged them as much when the song was concluding, and, groovily enough, Casey read my message aloud (in G-rated form) with a personal shout-out to the magnificent, beloved, hilarious, handsome, and unceasingly humble Kenny Poo.

Soon after, they performed Kenny Poo personal request, "Precious", by the great Esperanza Spalding. The song is one of my alltime faves, and they were BRILLIANT, with Haley nailing every note and Casey lending wonderful harmonies and upright bass coolness. I especially appreciated Haley looking off to the side camera before they started the song to say, "love know who you are."

I certainly do know, because, after all, I are, and I love ya back, babay!

Now, thank God I'm so unflinchingly modest, because, if not, one can only imagine how full of myself I could have become getting that message from the beautiful and talented Haley. Not to worry, though; my humility TOTALLY ROCKS, so suck on that, losers!

Another cool moment was when Haley gave a birthday shout-out to teen Halien "Janelleypoo". Clearly, there is something irresistible about the Poo army.


So much great music and scatting came next on jazzy/bluesy numbers like Haley's awesome new single, My Cake, and their beloved Caley cover of Hit The Road Jack from Casey's self-titled album, I was rendered virtually verklempt. Had to talk amongst myself for awhile. 

Topic: Caley: Occasional duet performers, or get in the fucking studio and crush out an album of amazing shit for us!!

Another major highlight came when they did a super soulful cover of a song I never heard before called Sail. It was so off the hook I had to hunt down the original by Awolnation on YouTube and check it out. It was so inferior to the Caley version I don't think Awolnation should be allowed to claim it as their own anymore.

OK, time for a negative moment, kiddies. Close your eyes and ears if you don't like any criticism of Haley, starting....NOW!

One thing that annoys the shit out of me is when Haley grabs a cell phone and sings the lyrics because she didn't rehearse enough to commit them to memory. That's what happened on Nightmare Before Christmas, and it's inexcusable, girl! Remember, preparation plus improvisation can create inspiration, but don't skip the preparation part, damn it! You CRUSHED THAT BEAUTIFUL SONG vocally, so much so I was almost willing to overlook the failure to learn the lyrics...but not quite.

OK, rant off. Those of you who couldn't read the criticism are welcome to return.

They adorably signed off for the night with a Monster Mash outro. Perfect ending to an event that left everyone longing for more. Sometimes Stageit shows can be boring as hell...well, there wasn't a second of that here. They were fabtuckulous, and I was thoroughly entertained the entire 51 minutes. It went by like 51 seconds.

I hope we get to see more frequent collaborations from this fun-loving duo moving forward, because there is seriously something unique and special between them. Great talent, great energy and great synergy. 


Poo out.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

TOP SECRET MUSIC REVIEW: Phillip Phillips - iTunes Session

SHHHHH!!! KEEP IT DOWN! This review is completely on the down low, as I've been notified by super secret suits at UMG that any and all media mention of Phillip Phillips' new iTunes Session is strictly prohibited under penalty of death by Miley Cyrus video twerking torture.

OK, now that we've agreed to keep this just between us, let me reveal the hidden truths you're not supposed to know about. Phillip Phillips, the new Platinum selling recording artist who was just nominated for an AMA for Best New Artist, and won American Idol XI, and is currently on a nationwide tour with John Mayer, secretly released an unplugged iTunes Session album October 8th featuring songs from his debut studio album World From The Side Of The Moon.

No, there was no pre-order sale or promotion. No, there was no press release. No, there was no mention of it on his website. In fact, there was not an announcement of any kind except a couple tweets mid day of the release by Phillip and his girlfriend, Hannah Blackwell.

The purpose of keeping this album top secret to only those who may accidentally stumble across it browsing iTunes remains a mystery. Had Phillip been an independent artist who was completely unknown to the general public, the release without any media or fan notification would still be a bit bizarre. Even unaffiliated artists give some advanced notice on social media to their fans and followers alerting them of the upcoming album release.

Yet, this remains for whatever reason absolutely unmentioned. Google the album under news and no media appears as of this typing 2 days after the official secret release.

Still, much to the chagrin of UMG enterprises, a lot of people ARE finding it. Right now it sits #33 overall on iTunes albums. That's an incredible number for an unannounced album with zero publicity, and is testimony to both Phillip's popularity and the quality of the album itself.

What makes this hidden gem so special is that it reveals the true depth of Phillip's guitar mastery, and the full richness of his vocal tones. The only song on World From The Side Of the Moon that captured this stripped down essence of Phillip is "Hazel", which is brilliant, and happens to be one of his two or three best songs. Now, we have a whole album of that stripped, raw acoustic vibe to appreciate and enjoy.

The setlist is a collection of 8 songs from his studio album, and 1 new cover (Crazy) that he's performed live several times. Best of all, his greatest work to date, the masterpiece of masterpieces, the greatest single song of all time, is FINALLY available on iTunes. Take Me Away is a song brilliant beyond compare, yet until iTunes Session came out it only was available via Target Deluxe CD, and that's not an easy one to find.

While the unplugged version pf Take Me Away loses the complexity and richness of the classical piano intro, the smokey jazz affect of a tenor sax, and the driving rock intensity of an electric guitar, the song is crafted and written so beautifully it still works magnificently when stripped to the bone of just Phillip with his six string.

One song that clearly benefits from the acoustic arrangement is Where We Came From. The album version got smothered in pop, but at its core its a meaty song highlighted by some very intricate guitar work. With all the unnecessary excess stripped away, it transforms from being just a decent song drowning in formula pop rock to one of the very best tunes on the album.

The only song that I felt took a small step back here was Man On The Moon. One of my very favorites off World, and the track I've long advocated to be his next official single, the guitar arrangement on the intro is a bit out of sync compared to the original World version and as performed on his live shows. Seems two guitars were stepping on each other to do a job that's better suited for one.

Oh, and my other pet peeve is that I love hearing the "Oh, oh, oh yeah" segue from the guitar intro into the opening verse, and that's absent here (as with his live shows). I love the way it sets the tone of the song, and implore P2 to toss it back in moving forward for ol' Kenny Poo's sake!

Overall, the album is deep, rich, fun, light, heavy, intense, happy, sad, pissed, and...well, very well balanced. You can't help but loop over and over again. It's infectious. Go buy it, but don't tell anyone else. Remember, it's very existence strictly confidential.

Below is the set list. Click here to purchase on iTunes.

  1. Where We Came From
  2. Man On The Moon
  3. Home
  4. Crazy
  5. Take Me Away
  6. Gone, Gone, Gone
  7. Hold On
  8. Tell Me A Story
  9. A Fool's Dance

COMING UP ON THE NEXT POO: Longtime Poo favorite Pia Toscano makes her big screen debut in the major motion picture, Grace Unplugged. Hope to catch it this weekend and get a review out next week.

Poo out!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Concert Review: Phillip Phillips Takes Me Away

All he does is win, win, win...

(WEST PALM BEACH, FL) So, the lovely and talented Mrs Poo and I went to see our boy Phillip Phillips in concert with John Mayer at the Cruzan Amphitheater this past Sunday night, and what a kick ass show it was.

Well, that is aside from the ass raping we got from the Cruzan vendors charging $18 for Pina Coladas and $11 for beer. Thank God I had my trusty flask, lest I be writing this review from a local homeless shelter.

Anyway, back to the show.

Chillaxing in lawn seating has always been one of my favorite atmospheres for a concert. Sitting under the stars, enjoying tropical summer breezes with a good beer buzz,, thick plumes of gange providing a nice contact high, the smell of freshly cut grass mixed with jasmine providing a natural high... ahhh, it don't get no better than that, people.

Phillip seems to feel the same way, as he endearingly told us during his 55 minute set about how last time he was at the venue he was with us in the lawn, and can't believe he's now on the stage performing for us. Humble dude, and it seems very genuine.

Of course, he has plenty of temptations to be cocky, what with two multi-platinum singles (Home & Gone, Gone, Gone) from his newly certified platinum debut album, World From The Side Of The Moon. Thing is, he's still the "don't care do yaaaa" guy he was called back on his winning run on American Idol, and I highly doubt that grounded, regular guy will ever go away.

Speaking of Idol, make no mistake: Phillips has utterly OBLITERATED the bubble. In fact, my favorite story of the night personified this with an exclamation point. You see, in the beer line during the intermission after his set, a group of big, 20-something drunk guys were all singing Home together, beer cans aloft, and then high fiving each other about how Phillips ROCKS!!

Mayer wasn't kidding when he said Phillips blasted out of the Idol bubble in record time back on the opening night of the tour. I guarantee those beer line drunk dudes had no clue Phillips was ever on American Idol, and certainly weren't giggling because he was cute.

Fact is, the P2 flat out rocks the house live, and those who've bought his album, especially the Target Deluxe version, understand how far Phillips' style is from being just a Mumfordian folk picker. He's stylistically more of a blend between Bruce Springsteen in his prime (yes, I wore my "The New Boss" Phillips t-shirt to the show), Dave Mathews (with more growl and snarl), a rocked out Eminem and Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band.

What was interesting to see is how into him the crowd was for an opening act. Usually, openers play before sparsely filled stands to a mingling crowd that hardly notices them. At best, they are given a smattering of polite applause. By the end of the set, the crowd is usually anxious for them to finish so they can see the headliner.

That was NOT the case at this show. Phillips and his band commanded the crowd's attention. People walking in to get situated were stopping to see what was going on, because the crowd was REALLY into him. Even in the casual lawn area, all eyes and ears were on Phillips. Very few minglers not paying attention, and if they were it wasn't for long. The "Mayer-Stan" girl in her very early 20's sitting next to us had never heard of Phillips, and when I saw her head bouncing along to his songs I asked her what she thought of him. She said, "I didn't know him before, but I guarantee I'll be getting to know him now. He's really good."

For me it was a perfect song list, opening with an energized Get Up Get Down, a KILLER, crowd pleasing version of Man On The Moon (why is this song not a single?), his very popular single Gone, Gone, Gone, his brand new (but secret) single Where We Came From (with a great, jazz jam finish), his now famous rock mashup of rap songs Lollipop/Lose Yourself/All I Do Is Win, and my favorite song of them all, Take Me Away, which he just SMOKED!

BTW, little ol' Kenny Poo twitter requested Phillip play Take Me Away, a song he doesn't perform live very often, and he came through for me. No clue if PP did so with Poo in mind, but I couldn't be happier that he did.

Of course, he finished with Home, which is I think the new National Anthem, or at least it should be. EVERYONE knows it and loves it, no matter how old or young. I can't think of another modern song with so many people of so many ages and backgrounds who love it and know every word.

After Phillip was done, we really enjoyed John Mayer's show and came away thinking the time is coming soon that Phillip will be headlining venues like these. Perhaps next spring/summer, when his 2nd album is released, he'll get to do a major venue headliner tour.

If so, maybe he can have my favorite jazz and blues rock babe, Miss Haley Reinhart, open for him? She just rocked out the Buffalo Grove music festival fronting one of Chicago's best blues/rock bands, Midnight, (which happens to be her parents band), and they really impressed (see: Haley and the Reinharts Rocked The Grove). Also, she already opened for P2 at a Hard Rock gig last year, and should have her new EP/album out by the spring. Her sexy, down to earth style would perfectly mesh with Phillip, so consider this a seed planted.

To finish up, I'll post two videos from the show to check out, one of which I self recorded from the lawn (Take Me Away) and the other a partial of his unbelievable mashup.

 Poo out!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Haley And The Reinharts Rock the Grove

My girl Haley Reinhart performed with her family band "Midnight" at the Buffalo Grove Days music festival near her hometown of Wheeling, Illinois last night. I wasn't there (it's a bit far from South Florida), but many of her most devoted fans (Haliens) from far and wide were in attendance, and generously uploaded videos of several performances from her set.

Now, I know what some people are thinking. I've read it on message boards and twitter, and it goes something like this: "Performing with her parents at small, local summer festival? What the hell happened to her. This is nothing to write about, it's just pathetic."

Well, pardon my French, but fuck you. You're making a snap judgment about her and this gig without knowing what the fuck you're talking about, so STFU and GTFO, you hateful, spiteful, negative, nasty, worthless piece of shit.

Too much? Sue me.

Haley's family band unquestionably brings out the best in her. Better than Casey, better than her other full band incarnations, better than the Idol band, and better than everything else she's done with a band, period, end of story.

Why was she so good with them? What made it different or special? It goes beyond nurture and love, also has a lot to do with rehearsal, repetition and preparation.

Haley's parents have had their own band for over 30 years, and are consummate professionals. Her father, Harry, is an expert blues rock guitarist whose musical influence on Haley cannot be overstated. Her mother, Patti, has always been the lead vocalist of the band, and inspired her incredibly talented and gorgeous daughter to follow the same career path. Even little sister Angie got in on the act, singing backup and no doubt providing comfort to her big sis. With this family support, Haley has been able to take her natural gifts to incredible highs, and that was evidenced by the brilliant show at The Grove.

To consistently gel and perform at the top of her game with confidence, Haley, like everyone else, needs practice and discipline. However, being free spirited by nature, she often seems to procrastinate and rely on talent to bail her out. Because of this, she's had mixed results on stage, at times looking like a star, and others appearing awkward, flustered and prone to gaffs. Only when performing jazz, a genre that rewards improvisation, and is her natural vocal element, has she been able to find comfort zone and get lost in the music.

That all changed at the Grove. She was a pro. She sounded great. She had confidence. She was prepared. She knew the cues. She knew the words. She knew her shit. That released her to be Haley at her very best, because she didn't have to think too much. She just let loose, trusted herself, trusted the band, and it really helped restore my belief in her that she has what it takes to become a highly respected artist in the music world.

Contrast that when Haley performs with her BFF Casey. While I love the chemistry they perform with together, and enjoy that she has fun on stage with him, and like the jazzy musical influence he provides, she frequently seems like she's joking around and winging it with him on stage instead of digging in and delivering like a pro. Fun on stage is great when it's about getting lost in the music and jamming out, and sometimes they have that, but when they don't it's a distraction that can make her appear unprofessional.

Look, I think Casey is a great guy, a great friend, and a great musician, but he seems equally free spirited and unstructured, and I don't think that helps Haley. I really dig them together in doses, but not as a career path.

The ideal scenario for Haley is finding a team around her that gives her the necessary nurturing, structure and discipline she needs to be great. A small label that's very hands on would help. Until that time, maybe she should do some touring with her parents band. She badly needs to gig more, so how about Haley and The Reinharts hit the road, Jack? Not sure if that's doable financially, but Haley really thrives with them, so why not?

RECAP: Great show, great band, and Haley proved without a doubt that she's the real deal with star power when in the right environment. Below is the video of her new song "Better", which she debuted at the concert. I seriously dig it, especially the a Capella intro and intense finish, and think you'll see what I mean about the killer job Haley and the Reinharts delivered gigging at the Grove. Let it loop and you'll get to enjoy a full playlist of Haley music from HaleysTusk, a superfan who has become Haley's unofficial videographer.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Haley Poo Has Her Cake and Eats It Too in Vegas

Haley Moanin', Scattin' and Growlin' at the Cosmo

My sultry, sassy, sweet and sexy vixen Haley Reinhart took residency at the Cosmo in Las Vegas this weekend, and once again reminded the entire free world that Kenny Poo is right and everyone who doubts him is wrong.

Yes, as anyone who knows me will surely attest, it's long been my contention that Haley is a jazz/blues singing prodigy, and awaiting her is a legendary career in that genre if she'd only embrace it. Of course, to do that she'd have to go against the wishes of her official handlers, managers, advisers, lawyers, agents, publishers, teen fans, and likely herself, too.

You see, my lovely Haley is a free spirit by nature, and prefers to keep all her options open. Dabble here and there in multiple genres, but never commit to any one lane. A little classic rock, a little girl-group Motown, a little disco, a little jazz, a little blues, a little pop, a little funk, a little urban, a little EDM, a little soul, so don't think for a moment she'll commit too deeply to any one genre or sound, bucko.

Haley don't play that game.

Frustrating as that may be for an arrogant, pompous, know-it-all-blowhard like myself, who can't resist thinking I know what's better for Haley than she does herself, I've learned to make peace with the fact that Haley will be Haley, and that's that. Trying to change her natural inclination to play the field is a waste of time and energy, and would only make her feel stifled. I now fully accept and appreciate her for who she is, and not who I absolutely know she should be, damn it!!

OK, so I still need to work on it a little.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the Haley jazztastic brilliance that was fully on display at the shimmering Cosmo Chandelier Room. She and her maestro pianist, Keith Phelps (who recently dropped his own cool as hell album, Phriday Mixtape), demonstrated for the 2nd year in a row that in a swank jazz setting there ain't nobody who can compare to their musical talent and chemistry.

Mind you, I know this not because I was there physically, but because of the fantastic videos, photos, vines and personal interaction accounts with Haley that were posted all over electronic media, be it YouTube, message boards, instagram, twitter, tumblr and vine, by her most devoted groupies. Some of these folks have traveled to every significant show she's gigged stateside since her run on Idol ended back in 2011. They certainly have my thanks (make that a standing ovation) for providing this window into Haley world, and I recommend strongly you check it all out if you haven't already.

To briefly summarize, Haley performed a large mix of jazz and blues standards, originals from her very well received debut album Listen Up!, classic covers from her time on Idol, a couple fun cover songs from the 70's, and a new song she debuted the week before at Universal City Walk with Casey Abrams called "My Cake", which is a wonderfully sexy, funky, jazz/blues number with a catchy hook and an infectious groove.

I think it's a great song for her in every way, filled with sass, sex appeal, and Haley's favorite recurring theme of playing the field with girl power. It feels like a Haley song, so I hope it gets recorded and finds its way onto iTunes sooner rather than later. I especially loved the City Walk version, as it had a really organic sound with kickin' backup vocals and rhythm guitar from her musical beau Casey.

I've included the City Walk version of "Cake" below (the Cosmo version not available yet as of this typing). Check it out, and let me know if you agree with me that it's a great music lane for Haley. She's still an independent girl, free of any label interference, and songs like this will hopefully attract the attention of a record company that's big enough to fund and promote her next album, but small enough to give her the personal attention and guidance she needs to get to the next level in her career.

Cheers, Haley, on a weekend in which you sang beautifully, and also made time to show some love for your dedicated "Haliens" who came from far and wide to see you and your shows.

Poo out.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pia Toscano and Jared Lee Kick Stageit Up A Notch

OK, so, I've admittedly only seen four Stageit shows in my life, but in my limited experience it's always been a very informal show done in a family room setting. Enjoyably intimate, but little more than a glorified pay-per-view Ustream or Skype session, and can sometimes feel like a money grab for artists who hardly bother to prepare for the show.

This was certainly not the case with Pia Toscano and Jared Lee's Stageit show on June 27th. To their credit, they made the paying customers feel they were tuning into a top quality, professionally executed, well rehearsed performance. With a stage set, mic stands, keyboard and guitarist, tipping fans were rewarded with the perfect combination of good music and playful, witty banter.

The song list was a nice mix of their own individual past music, duets, and a brand new song they co-wrote together, Heaven On Fire, that's subsequently received a lot of positive buzz.

Jared Lee is an artist I only became familiar with because of his connection to Pia (whom I've loved since her run on Season 10 of American Idol).  He's got a wonderfully witty, dry sense of humor that cracks me up, and a great chemistry with Pia. I was very impressed by his acoustic performance of his original song It's Over (Goodbye), and thought that was one of the highlights of the night.

Probably my favorite performance, though, was Pia's killer acoustic version of her single This Time. To be honest, I actually thought her studio version was pretty forgettable, but stripped down to just the organic sound of Pia's voice with an acoustic guitar really brought it to life. I absolutely loved her sultry tone, and she seemed to infuse the song with a little extra confidence and edge. Basically, she fucking KILLED it.

Pia, you make that baby available unplugged and I'll be first in line to download it.

Of course, nothing could outdo Pia's sexilarious booty dance. She could barely hold back the laughter long enough to get through it, which was really cute, and joked about not thinking it would be hot, but come on...this is Pia Toscano, damn it! She's hotter than the sun when lounging on the couch drinking beer and watching football [No, I do not have confirmation she actually does this, but I say she does, and it's my blog, so deal!]

Again, just to make sure this important matter is properly clarified for the lowest IQ readers. Pia booty dance = HOT!

Most significantly, I want to give major props to Pia and Jared for doing their best show possible. Fans know when the celeb doesn't have their heart in it, but clearly these two cared, they made the extra effort, and as a result their fans can feel good knowing their commitment was reciprocated.

Cheers, guys!

Poo out.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

From Borrowed to What Have I Done, Rimes delivers


Seventeen years after exploding on the music scene as a 13 year-old prodigy, LeAnn Rimes finally found her adult sound and style with her kickass new album, Spitfire. Don't let the tabloid bullshit fool you: LeAnn ain't no vapid, celebrity-bimbo, "has been" with nothing left in the tank.

Far from it.

LeAnn's voice is still strong as ever, but now she's become an even better singer. Being a 30 year old woman, she's got the self-awareness and maturity to bring more finessed, soulful, honest and authentic vocals. No gratuitous vocal gymnastics, no over-dramatizations, no over-singing, just perfect control of her instrument as she hits every note, from the bottom of her heart to the top of her range, with perfect pitch.
Of course, what makes Spitfire truly special and meaningful is how she bares her soul. Running the full gamut of conflicting emotions on decisions and actions she's made in her love life, LeAnn gives us a truly adult album rather than the typically cartoonish country formula music so prevalent today. I admittedly don't possess a huge country music catalog, but the album I own that most came to mind when I first heard Spitfire was Patty Loveless' When Fallen Angels Fly, which won CMA album of the year back in 1994.

If there's any justice, Rimes would win one of those in 2013 for Spitfire.

Without question, Borrowed and What Have I Done are the heart and soul songs of the album, and book-end two sides of the single most contentious, conflicting time of her adult life. The desperate, aching, longing for her new, forbidden love to blossom into full commitment (Borrowed), and the tortured regret of destroying her old love with this infidelity (What Have I Done).  I don't know that I've ever seen an artist record two songs so beautiful, yet brutally honest and introspective over the same episode. One gets the impression she will never fully reconcile this self-inflicted trauma.

What's also impressive is that she doesn't try and make herself more sympathetic of a character. She gives her truest emotions and feelings, take it or leave it, no bullshit, leaving the listener free to judge her for the good, the bad and the ugly in her actions. The mature listener will appreciate what she's given to us as a true window into her soul, and in that sense a bird's eye view of the human condition. Whether we approve of her decisions and actions isn't really the point; it's about how deeply she elicits feeling in us for how she feels. She offers up a full confession, leaves herself completely vulnerable, and in the end I found myself wanting to hug her, tell her I understand, and offer her forgiveness and compassion if not approval.

That said, Spitfire is definitely not just a heavy, emotionally draining album that makes you sob. Filled with a variety of flirty, fun, uptempo songs like Spitfire (song), I Do Now, Gasoline and Matches and You Ain't Right, Rimes also shows she has a fun, spunky side with a playful sense of humor.

You've Ruined Me is a grooving number that seems very radio friendly. Where I Stood deals with the reality and frustrations of relationship life after the initial glow wears off, and likely reflects LeAnn's reality today. What will her tomorrow be like? Well, stay tuned for the next album.

Kenny Poo ranks Spitfire a must have album for not just country music fans, but all music fans. Of course, the small minds who live in the tabloid world will no doubt be quick to judge and lash out at LeAnn because of the general subject matter. Radio will also probably shun her, and that's a shame. Bottom line: This album is above them, so they can fuck off if they aren't capable or interested in appreciating the depth, quality, versatility and honesty of this record.

Poo out!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

New Music Review: Eliane Elias, I Thought About You (Tribute to Chet Baker)

Chet Baker, the late, great, cool jazz legend, could not have picked a more befitting artist to honor his discography with a tribute album than the brilliant Brazilian bossa-nova babe, Eliane Elias. A highly accomplished jazz singer, pianist, songwriter and arranger, Elias summoned her full repertoire of skills and talents to craft her new LP, I Thought About You: A Tribute To Chet Baker.

The result: A sophisticated, heartfelt, cohesive album that will deserve all the accolades and awards it's bound to receive. Truly the work of a seasoned pro who "gets it", Eliane did Chet's music justice and then some on this compilation, and that's no small accomplishment.

It would be impossible not to be impressed with Eliane's sophisticated, swinging Piano accompaniment that runs throughout I Thought About You. With flawless timing, deft instincts, finesse and a some stank-face inducing spice, Elias managed to incorporate bossa nova flavor into Baker's classic songs.

Vocally, she delivers buttery soft authenticity with nary a hint of self-indulgence, affect or bullshit. It's that sense of restraint, the knowing when to kick it up and when to dial it back, that reflects her maturity and respect to the original artist, who detested artificial, gratuitous interpretations. In Chet's world, songs were meant to make you feel. Words mattered. Melodies mattered. Capturing the proper mood mattered.

In fact, if one is to fully understand and appreciate the wonderful work Eliane did on this album, it would really help to know a little bit about Chet Baker himself, and Kenny Poo is kind enough to share a very brief summary with you.

As was commonplace in the jazz era in which he lived, Chet was a gifted but hard-living, heroine-using artist, whose addiction ultimately killed him at the age of 58 in 1988. A brilliant jazz trumpeter and singer with a very distinct, velvety-smooth vocal timbre that emoted a woman's tenderness, Baker would go on to become the most renown and significant of the cool jazz pioneers of the 1950s and 60s,.

Baker's cool jazz sound would subsequently have a major influence on a talented Brazilian jazz artist by the name of Joao Gilberto. Gilberto would add some Latin spice to the cool jazz, and found a sub genre of cool jazz that would become known as bossa nova.

In 1962, Joao, his wife Astrud, and sax great Stan Getz recorded what would go on to become the most well known, widely covered, and commercially successful bossa nova song of all time, "Girl From Ipanema". The success of this song would create a worldwide frenzy for all things bossa nova, and artists everywhere began flocking to Brazil to check out their hot new jazz scene.

One such artist was pianist and composer Horace Silver. An American with Portuguese family roots, Silver traveled to Brazil to partake in the hot new music scene, and fell in love with bossa nova. As a result of this experience, he would write and record the beloved bossa nova classic "Song For My Father" in 1964.

[Note:  "Song For My Father" was recently covered by reluctant jazz vocal prodigy, Haley Reinhart. Those of you who know me are well aware of my affection for her jazz singing, so if you like that performance do the world a favor by tweeting her at @HaleyReinhart, and tell her Kenny Poo sent you. She needs the encouragement!]

So, with the cool jazz/bossa nova styles being so closely intigrated, you can see why it was only natural for a top Brazilian bossa nova artist like Elias to offer up a tribute to Baker. I can tell you she made some truly memorable music here, and I thought About You is definitely the early front runner for the prestigious Kenny Poo Best Jazz Album Of 2013.

You dig? Cool, baby. Below is the full track list with a brief Kenny Poo skinny for each song.

*  *  *  *

I Thought About You - Eliane Elias

1. I Thought About You (4:56) - Title track will get the toes tapping
2. There Will Never Be Another You (4:52) - Dig the bossa nova styling
3. This Can't Be Love (3:53) - Cool, swingin' jazz, baby.
4. Embraceable You (5:04) - Intimate dining jazz
5. That Old Feeling (3:52) - Kicking up the beat
6. Everything Depends On You (3:37) - Bluesy magnificence
7. I've Never Been In Love Before (3:54) - Stank face piano abounds
8. Let's Get Lost (4:18) - Shimmy yo hips to some groovin' bossa nova
9. You Don't Know What Love Is (5:13) - Slowing it down a notch
10. Blue Room (2:11) - Finger snapping beat with cool phrasing
11. Just Friends (3:30) - Horny tune
12. Girl Talk (3:50) - Opening licks resemble Sinatra's That's Life
13. Just In Time (2:37) - Quick tempo jazz
14. I Get Along Without You Very Well (3:05) - Weepy ending

That's all for today. Kenny Poo out.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pia Toscano: The Queens Queen Of Kings

It's safe to say that 2 years ago there ain't a chance in hell Queens native Pia Toscano would have believed she'd soon become the beloved good luck charm of the Los Angeles Kings. After all, despite growing up in NY Islander country, she wasn't really a hockey fan and had never even attended a hockey game before.

Plus, at that time she was the beautiful starlet competing on American Idol, and by all accounts considered a lock to make the Top 3. Hell, many thought she'd win the whole damn thing. Hockey? Please...she was on the fast track to pop superstardom, with gold records, Grammys, and all the trappings of A-list celebrity.

Well, it just goes to show you how truth really can be stranger than fiction.

Pia, as we all know only too well, was about to suffer from what's known as premature elimination. Instead of Top 3, Pia was sent packing in 9th place in the most stunning elimination in Idol history. Cheeseball douchebag Stefano Langone would advance instead of Pia, and the uproar was so loud that one wondered if they'd even be able to finish the season. I was so pissed off I boycotted the show the next week, and I think many others did, too.

Well, at least the wrong was righted by Interscope. They signed Pia in the summer of 2011 to a recording contract, and all was well with the world again.

Or was it?

Haley Reinhart stormed to the finish line with an extremely strong 3rd, and made such an impact Interscope would sign her, too. This made for a logjam of gorgeous Idol women with big voices, and would shuffle Pia back in the pack since she was left dormant for 6 weeks while Haley garnered huge Idol buzz with some of the most jaw-dropping performances the Idol stage has ever seen.

Now, we all know it didn't end well for either of them, as Interscope just couldn't figure out what the fuck to do and wound up blowing it with both girls.

In Pia's case, she would be handed a pleasant (if nondescript) mid-tempo pop single (This Time), and release a corresponding music video. However, Interscope didn't even release the song to radio for adds, and then permanently shelved her album. They effectively just hung her out to dry, rendering Pia unable to tour or perform the music she'd worked so hard on. All that was left was the waiting game.

It was during this lost period that Pia would begin her redemption in the most unlikely of places: An LA Kings game.

Attending the first hockey game of her life, she was immediately impressed with the exciting atmosphere. Having by now established a reputation for delivering fantastic national anthems, Pia told her manager she'd love to get the chance to do one at a Kings game sometime.

Well, sometime would soon happen, and the world as she knew it would never be the same again.

When the time to perform came, Pia delivered a lights-out SSB, the Kings won and the crowd loved her. She would definitely be invited back again.

And again.

And again.

And again, and again, and again, and again...

You see, not only did Pia slay the NA, the Kings also kept on winning every time she would sing it. Hockey is a VERY superstitious sport, so Pia by playoff time became considered the official good luck charm of the LA Kings. So, what happened next? Oh, she only sang them all the way to winning the Stanley Cup.

This year, she's doing it again. The Kings have won the first two rounds of the playoffs behind Pia's voice, and are set to begin the conference finals vs Chicago. Pia now has an immaculate 16-0 record on the season including playoffs.

Overall, she's an amazing 28-3-1 since her debut last season.

Now, I'm old enough to remember back when Kate Smith was the unbeatable force of the Philadelphia Flyers, who would summon her to guarantee victory back in the 70's. In fact, as a born and raised Buffalo fan, I was myself victimized by her rendition of God Bless America back in the '75 Stanley Cup finals. As much as I wanted my Sabres to get it done, I just knew when Kate was unleashed it was curtains for us.

Fast-forward about 40 years, and Pia Toscano is doing the same thing in LA with the Star Spangled Banner.  The players and fans really believe in her, and opposing teams get that foreboding feeling when she strolls out onto the ice to belt out the Anthem.

Now, Pia is the toast of the town. Newspapers are writing about her, fans are chanting her name, blogs like mine are dedicating posts to her incredible run, celebrities like Tom Cruise and Mathew Perry are personally and publicly singing her's incredible to behold, and nobody is more deserving of the good fortune.

So, cheers to you, Pia. You're truly LA's favorite girl, and if there's a better way to get a new start on a music career than that I don't know what it is.

Below you can check out Pia Toscano's Game 7 winning Star Spangled Banner vs the San Jose Sharks. I recommend playing it when you really need something to go your way...hey, can't hurt!

Go Kings! Kenny Poo out.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Profiles in Jazz: George Benson - Breezin'

Back in 1976, I was all of 9 years old. Little did I know, it would become one of the most influential years in my music life. Some of the best albums of all time topped the charts that year, including Chicago's Greatest Hits, Eagles Greatest Hits, Fleetwood Mac and Frampton Comes Alive.

However, none were more influential than Breezin' by George Benson.

As we get older, we rely on music to vividly transport us back in time to the deeply meaningful and powerful emotions of our childhood. Nothing can trigger the flood of memories, feelings, emotions and sensations quite like it. The long ago sights, smells and tastes are suddenly fresh, present and alive again when the right song comes on. It's magical, irresistible, and it's why we can never stop listening to music from this era of our lives.

So, if my girl Haley Reinhart is kinda sick of me nagging her all the time to make a jazz album, she should redirect her complaints to George Benson, who more than anyone else is responsible for piquing my jazz interest to begin with.

Anyhow, safe to say Breezin' is one of those albums that are transformative. Listening to Benson's gentle guitar licks on Affirmation and Breezin' (the title tack) always brings me back to summertime memories of childhood, with sunny days, beaches, windows down, and just enjoying life. Something about the cool, smooth tone Benson can produce on his guitar I find absolutely captivating and mesmerizing.

Of the six tracks on Breezin', This Masquerade is the song that to this day remains the most representative of Benson's full music repertoire. It's 8:03 of sheer brilliance (forget the horribly cropped, 3:21 version released to radio as a single), as Benson for the first time introduces his gift for guitar scatting and soulful vocals while still fully executing his masterful jazz guitar work.
In this vain, Breezin' represented somewhat of a shift for Benson, who before this time had been a traditional jazz guitar virtuoso in the style of his hero Wes Montgomery. Breezin' would be the same, yet as I've outlined, also very different. Benson would take some heat from the old school jazz crowd for this bow to mainstream music, but his blasphemy was certainly rewarded.

Produced by Tommy LiPuma, this was Benson's debut album for the more pop-oriented Warner Bros Records after spending a decade jazz label hopping with only middling success. Adding R&B/Pop sounds, strings, and a bit of disco to form what would become known as jazz fusion, this blending of contemporary styles would define his career as much as his brilliant jazz guitar work.

What makes Breezin' so special is that they achieved the optimal balance in the fusion. In subsequent albums, Benson would become increasingly pop/R&B oriented until the 90's when he (thankfully) began returning to his jazz roots again.

Obviously, many others agreed with me, as Breezin' to this day remains the top selling jazz album of all time, selling over 3 million copies. It also won 3 Grammys, and revolutionized the jazz fusion genre. In short, GB absolutely nailed the right sound at the right time.

Side note: The record producer for the lovely (OK, gorgeous) and talented Pia Toscano is Harvey Mason Jr. Well, his dad, Harvey Mason Sr., is a longtime drummer for George Benson, and was, in fact, the drummer on Breezin'. I would love to hear Pia and George duet sometime, so if the Masons can make that happen I'd be a most appreciative Poo.

Anyway, the success of Breezin' would pave the way for talented and creative artists like Chuck Mangione and Spyro Gyra to find huge popularity in the late 70's with their own jazz instrumental fusion sound. Unfortunately, a horrible seed would later be spawned from this otherwise wonderful music development: The proliferation of the dreaded Smooth Jazz virus. This nauseating genre would bring us decades of empty elevator music from vomitatious artists like Kenny G, and, sadly, there's no sign of a cure for this plague.

In conclusion, the music on Benson's Breezin' is both period recognizable and timeless at the same time.  In my mind, it's the perfect introductory jazz album for those not ready for the hard stuff. If it's not already in your collection, make sure you add it because if not you're a total loser.

Breezin' track list: 
1. Breezin' - 5:40
2. This Masquerade - 8:03
3. Six To Four- 5:06
4. Affirmation - 7:01
5. So This Is Love - 7:03
6. Lady - 5:49

Kenny Poo out.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Official Kenny Poo Top 25 Idol Performances of All Time

Well, let's try this again. 

After somehow deleting the first draft of my Top 25 All Time Idol Performances, then getting a bloody nose that ruined my shirt and shorts less than a minute later, I have now been blessed with the rare privilege of being able to start all over again from scratch with a new change of clothes and an empty canvas. 

Ain't I fortunate! So happy right now. Feeling almost overwhelmed by a flood of warm, fuzzy, snuggly, kissy, yummy thoughts!!  Want a hug? Oops, hold on... think I'm about to have a giggle attack!  Yep, here it comes!

 "Tee-hee! Tee-hee! Tee-hee!" 

OK, then, moving right along... 

First, knowing that some of you reading this are unbalanced head cases who will fly into a fit of rage after reviewing my list, or at the very least presume I'm fucked in the head (not such a big stretch), I've decided to clarify for everyone the rules of my entirely subjective Top 25.
  1. No artist gets more than 3 songs, even if I like some of their additional songs more than others that made the list. 
  2. It's all about me and what performances I like the most. No other criteria was considered. Some blew me away, others made me cry, others were uber creative, others turned me on, and some were all of the above. Hey, it's my list, damn it!
  3. If a song had multiple BIG moments with different performers I've eliminated it from my list.
  4. My rankings are a loosely based order. If I were to create a new list next week I'd probably rearrange several spots, so don't nitpick me.
So, without further ado, allow me to present to you the "Official Kenny Poo Top 25 Idol Performances of All Time!"

*  *  *

1. Kelly Clarkson - Stuff Like That There

2. Phillip Phillips - Home (coronation)

3. Haley Reinhart (with Tony Bennett) - Steppin' Out With My Baby

4. Candice Glover - You've Changed

5. David Cook - Eleanor Rigby

6. Crystal Bowersox - Saved

7.  Bo Bice - In A Dream

8. Candice Glover - Lovesong

9. Haley Reinhart - Rolling In The Deep

10. Pia Toscano - I'll Stand By You

11. Kris Allen - Heartless

12. Janelle Arthur (with The Band Perry) - Done

13.  Phillip Phillips - We've Got Tonight

14.  Adam Lambert - Mad World

15. Amber Holcomb - What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life

16.  Kimberley Locke - New York State of Mind

17.  Kelly Clarkson - A Moment Like This (coronation)

18.  David Cook - Billy Jean

19. Chikezie - She's A Woman

20. Candice Glover - I'm Going Down

21. Crystal Bowersox/Lee DeWyze - Falling Slowly

22. Phillip Phillips - U Got It Bad

23. Jordin Sparks - On A Clear Day

24. Haley Reinhart - Fallin'

25. Haley Scarnato - Tell Him

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Kenny Poo's Take On The Idol Finale

Candice Glover is without question a very happy and proud girl right now, and she should be. One of the best vocalists in American Idol history, she deserved every last jewel in the Season 12 crown she won last Thursday night over the talented but clearly outgunned runner up, Kree Harrison.

Unfortunately for Candice, her victory came in what undoubtedly was the worst season in American Idol history. With catastrophically bad ratings that saw the once dominant show fall below Spray-On-Hair infomercials in the 18-49 demographic, Idol is now on the precipice of collapse, due in large part to overt gender manipulation, cancerous diva judges, unbearably old and tired music themes, fierce competition from The Voice, and the general aging of a 12 year old show.

On the bright side, at least this disastrous season will produce the much needed, long overdo Idol house cleaning from the top down, starting with axing the out-of-touch and out-of-date Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe and a full reboot of the judges panel. Idol has much work to do if they hope to regain some of the luster lost in this cluster fuck of a season, and they can't afford another one.

However, I'll leave my full WTF must be done for another time. For now, Kenny Poo's selected highlights of what was otherwise a fittingly lackluster finale.

*  *  *

Janelle. Fucking. Arthur.
Holy shit, girl!! If you told me beforehand that 5th place Janelle Arthur would steal the show on finale night, I'd have spray-spit my Chivas in your face. Yet, that's exactly what happened. She absolutely slayed, killed, crushed, pummeled and destroyed that performance as if it was The Band Arthur.

This just continued the mojo trajectory she had during the Idol season. Any talk of who grew the most during the season should start and end with Janelle. I was NOT a fan of hers at all in the beginning. In fact, I booed my TV when she advanced to the Top 20 over Rachel Hale, but by the time she was eliminated I had actually become a fan.

In fact, by the end I actually preferred her to Kree, who I felt became a bit stale and boring as the show wore on. No, Janelle was no vocal powerhouse like Candice, but who is? I compare her favorably with 3rd place finisher Angie, only in the country direction. Actually, I liked her even better than Angie. A highly entertaining, frisky, polished performer with surprising artistic depth, I was very disappointed the judges chose not to save Janelle when she was voted out in Top 5 week.

Anyway, what she did with The Band Perry on Finale night was OFF THE HOOK! She took it to a fierce new level, showing all the world she damn sure belongs on the big stage - with a record deal to boot.

*  *  *

Candice and Jennifer
These two stood toe to toe and belted out an unreal rendition of "Inseparable", with a unanimous victory going to Candice, who showed better styling, range and finesse than J-Hud. This was one for the ages, peeps. Check it out. Awesome sauce to say the least.

*  *  *

Haley and Casey Duet
Now, there's no doubt in my mind that Season 10 was the best season in Idol history. In addition to tremendous talent depth in multiple genres, it also produced the two HOTTEST women in Idol history: Pia Toscano and Haley Reinhart. There must have been a power outage in LA when these two perfect 10s stood side-by-side as Pia interviewed Haley along with fellow AI10 alum Casey Abrams.

Then, the masterful performance...Oh, you mean you missed this? Shamefully, it was only on the Red Carpet pre-show because they had to fit in some critical lip-synching bullshit from Psy, Mariah, JLo, and Franky Valli on the finale (grrrr). What a dumb-ass decision by Nigel, because the Moanin' performance Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams delivered here was absolutely jazztastic.

Casey actually looks somewhat civilized again with his wild beard trimmed, and he controlled some of his manic tendencies to deliver a beautiful and refined performance. Meanwhile, my girl Haley was just pure buttah. She's not just eye-popping, jaw-dropping, drool-inducing hot, she's also one of the most gifted jazz vocalists to come along in generations.

In fact, if you've been reading my blog and following my twitter you know it's Kenny Poo's life mission to convince Haley to focus on being a jazz recording artist (See my Open Letter To Haley), so watch the Moanin' video above and if you agree with me that Haley Poo needs to go jazzy poo tweet her so at @HaleyReinhart.

That's it for now. Comments welcome. Poo out.

~Kenny Poo

Friday, May 10, 2013

IDOL SHOCK! Kenny Poo's (gasp) wrong, Angie eliminated

Wow, I sure didn't see that one coming. To be fair to myself, though, who the hell did?

OK, there was one person...congrats to Kenny Poo twitter follower on being the ONLY one I know of who did predict Angie would get the boot (OK, more of a tweet wondering out loud than a true prediction, but being such a generous Poo I'll give it to her).

Anyway, back to me, because isn't the public's reaction to me being wrong what Angie's elimination is really all about? Of course it is.

Look, I could just defensively spew out a bunch of lame excuses and justifications for my erroneous prediction, but the fact is I'm a standup Poo, and as such will admit the cold, hard truth: I, Kenny Poo, of twisted mind and large, middle-aged beer belly, hereby concede that I was absolutely...gulp...WRONG!!

Yes America, last Friday, I went on the record declaring Angela Miller the preordained victor of American Idol's Season 12. I just could not imagine a scenario in which America would vote Hannah Montana meets Snow White off the Island. In fact, I've been actively discussing on twitter and at work who would be Angie's most likely runner-up for weeks now.

So, that begs the question of WTF happened? To answer that, please allow me to place my shiny, tinfoil hat securely on my Poo head and explain my latest, newest conspiracy theory.

OK, so I believe Jimmy Iovine felt from the very beginning that Angie was a pageant bot who wouldn't translate easily into Top 40 radio. She might make a great Miss America, but that doesn't mean she'd sell well in a genre that's not the right fit..

However, what he does see in Angie is a potential superstar in the fast growing Christian Contemporary market, bigger even than Season 11's Colton Dixon, who has charted singles and sold over 110k albums to date. Interscope Records (Jimmy's label) is not the ideal home for a Christian Contemporary artist, even one with potential to cross over to mainstream pop like Angie.

The best fit for Angie is Sparrow Records, the UMG (Interscope's parent company) owned Christian music label which signed Dixon last year. There, Angie would fit in like a glove with her worship-driven, singer/songwriter music, and even add some PG pop songs, as well.

So, the plan was to compliment the hell out of Angie when she performed inspirational songs on the piano, and give her tough criticism about not seeming believable if/when she strayed too far from that path. Much as I loathe any scripted feedback from judges, I do happen to think this was beneficial engineering on the show's part, and only helped Angie in the long run. She needed that direction, as left to her own devices she'd likely have gotten spread out in too many different genres on the show. Idol is a platform where versatility can be both a blessing and a curse. Show none and you bore the audience, show too much and viewers will be confused as to the kind of music you'll make when you leave the show.

Perfect example is my girl Haley Reinhart. Perhaps the most diverse singer in the history of the show, she gave us R&B, country, pop, jazz, rock and blues performances during her run to 3rd place in Season 10. That said, post-Idol there were so many potential paths she could have taken it was hard to know what to expect. While I would have preferred a jazz/blues path for her [AND, YES, I STILL CAMPAIGN FOR IT INCESSANTLY AND WILL NOT STOP UNTIL IT HAPPENS, HALEY POO!!], there are other fans who'd prefer she go pop, rock, R&B or even dance.

Of course, I'm 100% right and they are totally wrong, but that's beside the point.

Anyway, with Angie now gone, Idol will have either an R&B/Soul winner (Candice), or a Country winner (Kree), either of which fit neatly into the Interscope lineup. They may accent with other genres (Candice: jazz, Kree: blues), but we all pretty much know what to expect. That clear "packaging" is something labels love, so if you allow me to use my 20/20 hindsight, I now see how this all went down, and what likely comes next.

At least, that's what I say. What say you?

Kenny Poo out.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Phillip Phillips Falls Ill, Cancels Remainder Of Tour

Ailing Phillips forced to cancel rest of his spring tour

Update #3. Refuah Sh'lema, Phillip.

Update #2: 
Oy, this one's kinda scary, folks. Kidney failure is no joke. From Reality Rocks:
"The word is the dates had to be rescheduled due to exhaustion, dehydration, and kidney failure; there's no confirmation yet regarding whether Phillip will be well enough appear in any way on the Season 12 "American Idol" finale, which takes place next Thursday, May 16."
Twitter Update: 
@Phillips 11m
Hey guys, due to doctor's orders I have to reschedule my last tour dates.They will be rescheduled! Looking forward to seeing you on Mayer!

No humorous snark, sarcasm or satire today folks, just reporting some sad news. Phillip Phillips, the reigning American Idol champion, and multi-platinum artist heralded by critics and fans alike as "The New Boss" for his music style and energetic concert performances, has suddenly fallen ill and has had to cancel the remainder of his spring tour.

There were 9 dates left on Phillips' calendar this month before his scheduled break, culminating with a gig in Dublin, Ireland. That all was scrapped the morning after his spirited May 4th SunFest show in West Palm Beach, FL, where by all accounts he looked healthy, sounded strong, and delivered a typical high energy performance. Still no official word on what the illness is, just a comment from his sound engineer that Phillip needs time and rest to recover.

Recover from what? Well, that's the million dollar question, but one has to wonder if it's related to the kidney problems that plagued him on American Idol last year, requiring multiple minor operations during the season, and a major surgical procedure after the Idol summer tour ended in September, 2012.

Hopefully, whatever it is that KO'd him isn't too serious, and won't have lasting effects he'll have to deal with with in the future. Anytime there's a sudden cancellation of all future dates there is a natural inclination to fear the worst, especially when it's a tough guy like Phillips who has always battled through pain and fatigue with incredible courage and determination.

As we await word from Team Phillips, please feel free to use the comment section below to wish Phillip well, and provide any breaking news on his condition you may find. I will be updating this post with any official news that becomes available, so keep checking back regularly.

Finally, be aware that any nasty, inappropriate comments from Phillip haters WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. Immediate deletion and banning will be the result. Thank you in advance for being respectful.

~Kenny Poo

Friday, May 3, 2013

Your Next American Idol: Angie Miller

OK, let me start out by saying there's almost a zero percent chance I'll ever buy music from American Idol's Angie Miller, and she's definitely not my favorite singer or contestant on Idol this year. That distinction goes to the insanely gifted jazz/blues/soul singer, Miss Candice Glover. That said, I believe Angie Miller deserves to be the next American Idol, and just might become the biggest megastar in Idol franchise history.



Angie has the complete American Idol package executive suits fantasize about. The sweet, young, pretty, "all-American-girl-next-door" with a strong voice, theater skills, acting skills, singer/songwriter skills, sex appeal, sass, and can run the genre gamut from Christian Contemporary to Hot AC to Top 40. She's got a perfect mix of Kelly and Carrie that should prove an unstoppable combination in the music and entertainment industry.

Oh, and her father is a minister and she was active in the choir.

If Idol executives could go into central casting, Angie is the girl they would have chosen. Everyone's Miss America, Disney Princess, Prom Queen and Head Cheerleader all rolled into one, with just enough hot and sexy to tick the rating up to PG .

There have been others who had many of these components. Back in Season 10, the seductive Haley Reinhart had even better looks, vocal talent and versatility than Angie, but she was no Disney Princess. Haley seemed more like the party-girl-next-door who'd get drunk, smoke a joint and make out in the back seat en route to the prom after-party (atta girl!). Also, sultry jazz and classic rock were Haley's primary music interests, and though it made Haley my favorite, it ain't what central casting wants in an Idol.

Then there's my other Season 10 girl, Pia Toscano. Pia was a raven haired knockout who could sing pop ballads with the best of them. She portrayed a certain sophistication, and had a sequined presence and beauty that I loved, but made her seem almost unapproachable to some. Though very down-to-earth and sweet in real life, many saw Pia more as an unattainable diva than the girl-next-door. Wonderful to fantasize about, but hard for insecure young girls to relate.

In Season 11, Jessica Sanchez was more all-Filipino than all-American. Holly was more all-Great Britain. Also, though both were seemingly very nice and talented kids, they were truly just kids, not women. Phillip Phillips, the wildly talented and successful winner last year, was a grown man who knew exactly the kind of artist he was, and these girls were like children next to him. You really should be at least 18 to be an American Idol winner in my not-so-humble opinion.

So, anyway, back to Angie. Can you imagine anyone better to represent Idol as a worldwide ambassador than her?  Whether it's cutting a ribbon, doing weather stand-in on a morning talk show, hosting her own Christmas special, appearing on a sitcom, or landing a starring role on Broadway, who would be better than her? I bet she can do one hell of a mean parade wave, too. Musically, she has a lot of popular directions she could go, and seems to really know who she is as an artist. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see her chart Top 40 on CCM, HAC, AC and CHR radio.

Since she seems to have all the tools to be a star, there is only one noteworthy flaw that could block her path: Authenticity. She seems to be a genuinely nice, likeable, sweet, wonderful girl, but when she performs she has a tendency to become overly melodramatic. If she can bury that tendency, the sky is the limit for her.

So, while I absolutely love Candice, have already bought some her songs on iTunes, and intend to follow her career after the show, I still believe the best choice to represent Idol as the winner is Angie. So, prepare the sash, tierra and rose bouqet and cue the confetti, folks, because...

There she is,  Miss American Idol!

What say you?

Kenny Poo out.