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America’s Got Talent, Season 11: Live Rounds Begin, 7/26/16

July 27th, 2016 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Welcome back Simon Crowell!  He got me watching America’s Got Talent again. For season 11, the first night of the audience voting, let’s call the results for the first group of twelve to perform live (live on the east coast, that is). Five go home Wednesday night.  Which five?

  1. Jayna Brown, 14-year-old jazz/pop/soul singer, she’ll get to the next round.
  2. Outlawz, five teen hip-hop dancers, they’re unpolished but in a good way, except the judges gave them a mixed reception. They’re likely on the bubble.
  3. Lorie Mae Hernandez, she’s a cute “tween” comedienne but she doesn’t sound ready for Vegas. Bye, girl!
  4. Haru, amazing young Japanese magician, but he may get elbowed out by talent with home field advantage.
  5. Deadly Games, knife-thowing act w/ a Goth twist, they’ll get to the next round. I voted for them.
  6. Musicality, high school after-school choir from the rough side of Chicago, they’ll advance to the next round. I voted for them, too.
  7. Jon Dorembos, he plays for the Philadelphia Eagles and performs amazing magic tricks. He may be a little low-key for Vegas, but he’s not going anywhere for a while.
  8. Daniel Joyner, 17-year-old singer whose parents are church musicians. The judges acted unimpressed about his performance, but I suspect the voters will feel otherwise. I stuffed the ballot box for him.
  9. Tape Face, punky comic mime, who people’ll love or hate, so his fate is a question mark. I allowed myself a sympathy vote for him.
  10. Dorothy Williams, senior citizen dancer. I’m sure she wows ’em at the retirement home, but this isn’t the retirement home. Bye, girl!
  11. Sila Speca, performance art, two American dancers who perform with holograms. (A Russian artist creates the backdrops and is considered the third member of the team.) Ironically much of this performance looked a lot like what the Japanese magician Haru did in the episode’s first hour–and he did it better. This dance team may last another round, but likely the competition will get very stiff very fast.
  12. Laura Bretan, 14-year-old opera singer, she’ll make the cut.

Tune in 7/27 for the results.

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The Amazing Race: Flashback, Season 27, Holland, 11/6/15

June 24th, 2016 · No Comments

Such a long time before Season 29 of The Amazing Race starts this fall–let’s get our TAR fix with a flashback to Season 27, where we find teams racing from France to Holland, on the second half of two legs that were run as one.

While Phil is telling six teams to “keep racing” from Paris to Rotterdam, mother-son team Denise and James Earl are stuck at one detour in Paris. They’re trying to rap in French well enough to get to the pit stop. After eighteen or more tries, they pass the detour, get to the mat, and head for the train station.

All teams have been booked on a 7:22 train from Paris to Rotterdam, but most teams catch earlier trains. Tanner/Josh (Team Texas) don’t. They take time to see Paris. Justin/Diana are on the earliest train. Kelsey/Joey are on a 2nd train, Cindy/Rick and Tiffany/Krista, on the 3rd train. It looks like Logan/Chris, Team Texas, and the mother-son team got on the 4th train, the one that was booked.

Justin/Diana (Team Green) are 1st to reach Rotterdam, and their clue is a postcard of a red boat. When they arrive at the boat, they find teams are expected to camp overnight on deck. As teams arrive, they get numbers off a board, which indicate their departure times (between 5 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.) the next morning.

Cindy/Rick (Chac Attack) think Amsterdam and Rotterdam are two names for the same city, so they continue on the train to Amsterdam, then have to backtrack when they learn their mistake. However, they’re still near the front of the pack. Overnight Rick’s eye swells up–he thinks it’s a mosquito bite.

In the morning Justin/Diana depart 1st, Tiffany/Krista 2nd, Cindy/Rick 3rd, Kelsey/Joey 4th, Tanner/Josh, 5th, Logan/Chris, 6th. The mother-son team are last.

Teams’ first clue of the new day is to make their way to a water taxi terminal and take a water taxi to a windmill farm (a kinderdijk is the Dutch word). The girls (Tiffany/Krista) are 1st, Cindy/Rick 2nd, Justin/Diana 3rd.

The clue box at the kinderdijk gives teams instructions for this leg’s roadblock:  “Who wants to pick the sunflowers?” Not tulips, but sunflowers–which refers to copies of Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh’s famous sunflower painting. They’re hidden all over the expansive windmill farm. Each team must find an exact replica of the painting before they can receive the next clue envelope, and some of the copies are not exact–flowers are at the wrong angle, things like that.

Kelsey/Joey are the 4th to start the RB but the first to finish it. Their next clue says to subtract their heart rate after this RB from their heart rate after last leg’s RB, using their Fit Bit. In a bit of product placement, everyone’s wearing a Fit Bit and is told to keep track of their heart rate and number of steps. Once a team has done the arithmetic, the answer tells them the number of tulips to pick up from one flower stand and deliver to another.

Cindy/Rick are 2nd to finish the RB. The girls are 3rd despite one girl screaming so much and so loudly she scares a goat. When teams complete the RB and deliver the tulips, they take water taxis back to the Kettle One vodka distillery and receive clue envelopes regarding this leg’s detour.

Justin/Diana are 4th to complete the RB. Team Texas is 5th, the mother-son team are 6th and Logan/Chris are 7th. Teams find the detour choices are “ship” or “skip.”

For “ship,” teams perform a virtual training exercise at Rotterdam’s harbor. In the training room, one person is the ship’s captain and the other, the navigator who reads the radar and directs the captain. First they must “deliver a pilot” to a certain ship, then “answer a distress signal” from another one. If they haven’t completed the exercise in five minutes, they have to try again. Teams have to wait their turn to get in the training room, and no team completes the detour on their first try.

For “skip,” the detour consists of learning a “Double Dutch” jump rope routine. Cheerleaders Tiffany/Krista are the only team that picks this detour. They’re cheerleaders, so the routine–which consists of clapping, jumping, and chanting–fits their skill set. They’re the first team to finish either detour. They get the clue for the pit stop:  take a train and tram to the Hague.

The other six teams all pick “ship.” Kelsey/Joey are 1st to arrive at the training room, Justin/Diana are 2nd. Cindy/Rick decide to take a bus, instead of a taxi or train, from the distillery to the training room. That costs them several slots.

Justin/Diana are the first team to complete the training exercise, making them the 2nd team to complete either detour. Kelsey/Joey are the 2nd team to complete the “ship” detour, making them 3rd place overall. Tanner/Josh are next, leaving the remaining three teams at the training room.

Justin/Diana catch a train before the girls do, so they get to the pit stop 1st. It’s their 4th time in 1st place for the season. They win one dollar for every step their Fit Bit says they’ve taken this leg–about $31,000 total. Kelsey/Joey are 2nd to hit the pit stop mat. The girls are 3rd, Tanner/Josh are 4th.

Back at the training room, Logan/Chris complete the detour. Next are Denise/James (the mother-son team). Chac Attack is last to complete either detour. Logan/Chris hit the pit stop mat in 5th place. That leaves two teams trying to stay out of last place.

At the train station, Cindy/Rick get on a train. Denise/James want to board an express train, which they think is a better deal–but it’s late. The mother-son team are in last place.

Opps!  When Chac Attack gets off their train, they get on the wrong tram!  Which will be the fatal mistake–the late train or the wrong tram?

Cindy/Rick correct their mistake too late. James Earl and Denise are the 6th team to hit the pit stop mat. Chac Attack come in last and are eliminated.

 

 

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The Voice: Season 10, Finale, 5/24/16

May 25th, 2016 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Three hours of NBC primetime Tuesday night:  one hour of Voice recap (I watched the latest Hotel Hell instead) then about one hour and 45 minutes of variety (music, comedy) including commercials. Finally–with about ten minutes remaining before the late news begins–Carson Daly starts announcing the results of The Voice Season 10.

Fourth place–Laith Al-Saadi (Team Adam)

Third place–Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell)

That leaves Alisan “Curly Sue” Porter (Team Christina) and Adam Wakefield (Team Blake’s studly Adam) standing together onstage like two beauty contest finalists.

Carson reads the winner’s name first, but he takes at least ten seconds to do it: Alisan!

Her victory wasn’t as sure a thing as some websites tried to make it. She was the presumed front-runner from the moment of her audition, but she had her off-nights and got tough competition (especially from Al-Saadi and Wakefield) so she didn’t completely dominate the season.

That means Christina Aguilera–after six tries–has her first Voice champion.

That also means Blake’s leading team member Adam Wakefield took only second place, and Adam Levine may spend season 11 reminding Blake about it.

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Beyond Reality – Dancing with the Stars – Season 22 Finale Part 2 Chat

May 25th, 2016 · No Comments

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Beyond Reality – The Bachelorette – JoJo – Episode 1 Chat – 5/23/16

May 24th, 2016 · No Comments

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The Voice: Season 10, Final Four Sing for Votes, 5/23/16

May 24th, 2016 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Final four of The Voice, Season 10:  Alisan Porter, Adam Wakefield, Laith Al-Saadi (who got last week’s Twitter save) and Hannah Huston, who somehow found enough fan support to move into the top three last week. For the first time in many seasons, all four judges/coaches have a singer in the finals.

Last night’s format called for each singer to perform one original song–all of which were ones the singers composed themselves–along with one cover, and one duet with the team coach. Who sounded like they’re going to win Season 10?  Let’s find out:

1.  Laith Al-Saadi (Team Adam): He starts the evening with classic sixties’ rock–Cream’s “White Room,” which Adam wants to have be Hendrix-ish and Cocker-ish. Laith’s got the room rocking but I’m not sure how much appeal this song’s going to have to the target demographic. Classic blues-rock from the seventies or eighties might have encouraged more downloads. Blake points out, though, “You made the finale and you did it doin’ your way!” Pharrell says, “What you represent is so awesome … true test of your talent and what this show represents.”

2.  Alisan Porter (Team Christina):  Alison has written “Down that Road” about, she says, hope and second chances. Christina tells her it signifies the end of her journey on The Voice, to a new beginning. This is a great song to play up her vocal strength–a country-flavored soprano that doesn’t need much bottom end. Adam tells her that solely on “the voice” factor, her voice is the one that deserves to win.

3.  Adam Wakefield and Blake Shelton duet:  “The Conversation,” originally a song in which Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams, Jr. discuss Hank, Sr., is a strange choice for this stage of the competition, but it does allow Wakefield and Shelton to show off their lower registers.

4.  Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell):  Coach and singer talk about making “Every Breath You Take” dark and moody but that’s not what they do. It is a dark, moody, maybe even goth-flavored song, but Huston’s minor-key rendition sounds like just another cocktail-lounge cover. She doesn’t have the vocal or emotional range to take the song to a truly dark, moody place. The host, Carson Daly, says it:  the song was performed in “a James Bond way.” The judges love it, however, and it is getting an amazing number of iTunes downloads.

5.  Laith Al-Saadi and Adam Levine duet:  The rockers take several less-than-obvious choices of Beatle songs (all from Abbey Road) and rock out. Adam plays drums and sings (it’s not easy to do both at the same time, which is why you don’t see it very often) for the first part, while Laith plays guitar and blues-shouts. Then they join into a guitar-and-vocal wall-of-sound for “The End” (the end).

6.  Alisan Porter and Christina Aguilera duet:  “You’ve got a Friend” suits the friendship that coach and singer have developed.

7.  Adam Wakefield (Team Blake):  Carson Daly calls Adam, “Blake’s country-soul artist.” He debuts a song he wrote, “Lonesome, Broken, and Blue.” It’s a very soft, whispery rendition, and he tends to mumble his lines, but it’s also the number-one download on iTunes today.

8.  Hannah Huston and Pharrell Williams duet:  Hannah sings Justin Timberlake’s part on “Brand New,” a song that started as a duet for Williams and Timberlake.

9.  Laith Al-Saadi (Team Adam):  Laith says he wants “Morning Light,” a song he composed, to be a “Georgia on my Mind” thing. Adam says, “You’re an acquired taste.” Laith says, “I’m the green cheese of The Voice.” In rehearsal they appear to be focusing more on guitar than vocals, with talk about, a little like Slash, and a real charming Clapton moment. The performance sounds like Ray Charles with guitar instead of piano. At the conclusion the applause goes on and on. Pharrell comments, “so cool to break the rules and have 6/8 blues featured now.” Laith’s obviously the wild card of this season–he got the Twitter save last week even though he doesn’t seem likely to have a Twitter fan base.

10.  Adam Wakefield (Team Blake):  Classic country is in the building. Wakefield sings Vince Gill’s “Nobody Answers When I Call Your Name” and evokes the flavor of George Jones or Conway Twitty. Blake raves about the watching country audience, “They know what you did with an iconic Vince Gill song!” and adds he can hardly wait to get the iTunes download.

11.  Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell):  For Hannah’s original song, she co-wrote “I Call the Shots” with Pharrell. For once, she’s found a song that plays to her vocal strengths.

12.  Alisan Porter (Team Christina):  Showing her best vocals of the season, Alisan performs “Somewhere (A Place for us)” from West Side Story. The applause goes on and on.  As the show winds up, Adam Levine tells her, “Congratulations and you know we love you!”

Alisan’s been the presumed front-runner this season but she’s had her weak moments and has faced stiff completion (especially on iTunes) from Laith and Adam. On iTunes today, Adam’s “Lonesome, Broken and Blue” is number one but he and Laith each have only one song in the top ten. Alisan and Hannah each have two. Depending on how much the iTunes downloads influence other voting methods, the field could be wide open.

I voted for Laith and Adam online. Tonight’s finale runs two hours, 9-11, and I think I heard Carson Daly say Sia was going to be a guest.

 

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Beyond Reality – Dancing with the Stars – Season 22 Finale Part 1 Chat

May 24th, 2016 · No Comments

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Beyond Reality – Survivor 32 Kaoh Rong Finale Chat – 5/18/16

May 19th, 2016 · No Comments

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The Voice: Semi-finals, 5/16/16

May 17th, 2016 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

The Voice is cutting its field in half this week, with four contestants, regardless of team, advanced to the finals next week. If Randy Jackson had been one of the judges Monday night, he would’ve been telling all eight how they were in it to win it. Pink was celebrity guest advisor. Now for the music:

1.  Shalyah Fearing (Team Adam) has one of the three weakest voices of the final eight. Pink advises her not to overuse her rasp, but she gets raspy and loud anyway. She’s more about drama than vocal on the Dreamgirls song, “I’m Telling You I’m not Going.” (What happened to Adam’s plan to have her sing “No More Drama,” by the way? Did he not get clearance, or did he reconsider?) Pharrell finds her to be “sweet” and “tender” but I don’t. Gwen says, “You were singing for your life” and Adam declares, “the moment we’ve been wanting to have,” but there are just too many bigger voices for her to elbow past.

First duet:  The Voice is doing much the same thing American Idol used to do–pair up contestants for duets in the even-numbered middle rounds. Country-flavored Alisan Porter and Adam Wakefield sound beautiful together on “Angel from Montgomery.” The host, Carson Daly, calls the performance amazing.

2.  Paxton Ingram (Team Blake) has another of the three weakest voices remaining in the competition. Blake assigns him Meatloaf’s “I’ll do Anything for Love But I Won’t do That” because “it’s got the dynamics Paxton likes to play around with.” The change of style (less churchy R&B, more like a rock frontman) is a wise move but he, too, probably won’t elbow past the bigger voices heading for the finals. Pharrell notes he took the next step, and advises him to get some experience with Broadway, and “it’d be interesting to see you do those big rock tunes, too.”

3.  Laith Al-Saadi (Team Adam) attempts to break out of his classic blues-rock groove by taking an Adele song (“One and Only”) and making it his own. He struggles with some of the notes, so Pink advises him, “clench your butt cheeks.” (Is this Pink or Miley Cyrus talking?) I don’t see or hear anything other than great about his performance, but this morning’s iTunes chart indicates his risk may not have paid off. He didn’t get as many iTunes downloads as he usually gets, so he may be on the bubble at a bad time. He’s had his career breakout, though, regardless of what happens tonight.

Second duet:  Brian Bautista and Mary Sarah find common ground with their interpretation of Ariana Grande’s “Break Free.” It’s a performance with some country and some R&B overtones, but works as mainstream pop. Carson notes Mary stepped out of her comfort zone.

4.  Alisan Porter (Team Christina) has been an inconsistent front-runner, but she finds some great moments on “Desperado.” Her vocals often show more emotion than vocal technique, but this is her best performance in several weeks. Blake says she made the song her own. Adam talks about her ability to connect emotionally.

Third duet:  Laith and Hannah Huston sing the bluesy “Knock on Wood,” and she’s overmatched. It’s not even one of her better vocals.

5.  Adam Wakefield (Team Blake) keeps favoring soulful, smoky, haunting country songs. Blake assigns him one of his own hits, “I’m Sorry.” It was written by Chris Stapleton, Blake explains, and it’s the type of song he’d like to see Adam do more of. At rehearsal the question of whether to play piano is resolved when Pink observes, “As soon as he got behind the piano his voice opened up.” He gives what may be his best performance of the season at just the right time. Pharrell observes this Adam’s bringing a different kind of soul to country. Blake says, “I feel like that’s how you sing it. You’ve had so many breakout moments, never a moment like that one.” It’s the top Voice iTunes download this morning.

6.  Bryan Bautista (Team Christina), who’s becoming this season’s smoky-lounge cocktail-jazz singer, turns Christina’s “Hurt” into a smoky-lounge cocktail-jazz ballad. Christina raves, “Such a huge and crazy song range-wise, I wanna hear it again, I’m downloading it!”

Fourth duet:  Paxton and Shalyah, the two kids breaking out this season, get rappy and hiphoppy on “Masterpiece.”

7.  Mary Sarah (Team Blake) delivers what may be her best performance with “I Told You So,” a song written by Randy Travis. She’s singing each word, fondling every note. Christina says, “You’re really owning who you are.” Blake babbles, “Ask me how do you know what’s good, I want you to YouTube that. That is your best performance.” Don’t underestimate a pretty girl with a pretty voice on Team Blake.

8.  Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell) has the third-weakest voice in the final eight. Pharrell assigns her “When a Man Loves a Woman” for a style “of that era.” She’s raspy, loud, pitchy, still hasn’t developed much identity or personality–if she makes the finals, it’ll probably be because of her attractiveness and her sentimental working-girl backstory. She lays on the emotion and drama but just doesn’t have enough voice for the song. (Laith does. Tessanne Chin did. Susandra Lewis did.) However, Blake raves, “You haven’t had anything like this the entire season!” She may have elbowed her way into the finals, but who did she elbow aside?

I voted for Laith, Adam, and Bryan, guessing they and Alisan “Curly Sue” Porter would be final four. Going strictly by this morning’s iTunes chart, however, the final four would be Adam, Alisan, Mary, and Hannah. Will Laith’s and/or Bryan’s online votes be enough to offset a shortage of iTunes downloads? Or will two female vocalists with soft support–until this voting window–become the dark horses of the finals?

 

 

 

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Beyond Reality – Dancing with the Stars – Season 22 Episode 9 Chat

May 17th, 2016 · No Comments

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