Tuesday, March 13, 2007

American Idol: Top 8 Women

TRACY: So, I don't have a lot of snark for the women, who were really great on Wednesday. What did you think, Troy?

TROY: The women were good--not as fantastic as they have been, but not totally cringeworthy. Try to scrounge up the snark within!

TRACY: I really like Jordin. She looks so comfortable on stage, and she has filled the happy little ping-pong ball void that AJ left behind. That said, I thought her rendition of "Heartbreaker" sounded like she was losing her breath, until the last note, which was so fab, I could barely stand it. I was stunned that she was in the bottom two last week and was happy to see her survive into the top 12. She deserves it.

TROY: Jordin slightly reminds me of America Ferrara, whom I really like. She just seems totally grateful to be there and has a rockin’ voice (except for the fact that I don’t think she should sing rock at all). “Heartbreaker” was just okay to me--nothing overly spectacular. However, I think she is definately one to watch out for. She has such a likability with talent to match.

TRACY: Exactly. My bitterness this week is reserved for Sabrina's untimely demise. That was sick and wrong, America. She has a great voice, she's pretty, and she chooses songs that aren't by Whitney, Celine, or Aretha--that alone had to count for something. But noooooooo. You had to kick her off. When Haley Scarnato is bleating some horrible Debby Boone ballad in the weeks to come, do not come crying to me. I'm just saying.

TROY: Agreed. I don’t get why America was hating on poor Sabrina. But did WE vote? No. We only have ourselves to blame!! Sorry Sabrina. You weren’t Tami Gosnell, but you had a great voice, attitude and look. Best of luck to you! You deserved better!

TRACY: "Put Your Records On" was a good song for Antonella, but her pitch was all over the place. And really, anyone who is dumb enough to let people take photos of her on the can (and allegedly make a naked calendar for her ex-boyfriend) just needs to go. I'm glad she went. (And a note to the producers: The demure top and the violin did not make the whole situation appear any less hootchie.)

TROY: The violin was so claaaaaassy! I totally respect Antonella now! Not.

I thought she had started out fine, but it just turned into a bleating mess. I almost feel bad for her (I said, ALMOST). She had a friend that sold her out and she just seems like a not-too-bright girl who was somehow tricked into beliving she could sing. It’s almost sad.

So...place your bets: which men’s magazine will Antonella pose for first? I say Maxim.

TRACY: Breaking news: I read that she turned down a lucrative offer from Girls Gone Wild. You have to respect her for that.

Haley. There are no words. Actually, there are five: Minnesota State Fair music tent.

TROY: I can do it in four: Random Lake Fireman’s Picnic.

TRACY: You win!

I can't BELIEVE she's in the Top 12. I actually feel sorry for her, despite her snarky little "I clock in; I clock out" comment on Wednesday. She's so out of her league, and she's only going to continue to get mean comments from the judges until some dork with a speed dial has the sense to stop the insanity and not vote for her anymore.

TROY: She’ll be gone faster than you can say Leah LaBelle. People just felt bad for her (or the votes were rigged). I honestly would rather have Antonella in the top 12, mainly for the trainwreck factor. Haley has no redeeming qualities--talent or trainwreckness. Apparently we’re missing out on something that other Americans have latched onto (and to those who have, please let go).

TRACY: Word.

Stephanie was great, if a little anonymous. I'm thinking since she and Sabrina both have amazing voices and quiet personalities, they may have split the vote between them.

TROY: Stephanie had the edge on Sabrina because she kneels when she sings. Kneeling = feeling the song. But I’ve always liked Stephanie. I just hope she doesn’t LaToya herself and can start showing more personality.

TRACY: Now you know I loves me some Lakisha, but American Idol needs to RETIRE "I Have Nothing." Sing the national anthem to it, hang its jersey on the wall, and look fondly upon it in perpetuity. But no matter how great your voice is (Lakisha!), that song is just getting old, people, and I'm tired. So very tired.

TROY: Idol needs to retire basically every Whitney Houston and Celine Dion song. It’s always meant to show their vocal range, but it usually does the opposite. Of course Lakisha sounded fine, but it was just boring! I’m actually waiting for Lakisha to do something more up-tempo and fun.

TRACY: OK, I loved Gina's look, and I loved how she rocked the stage. I'm glad to see her get her edge back. But singing Evanescence was a mistake--she doesn't have the chops. She totally gets the Tracy Busts a Vocal Cord Attempting Janis Joplin in the Shower award, because she was out of her league with that song. But she's starting to move in the right direction. You gotta wonder what she's going to do next week with Diana Ross, though....

TROY: Gina’s saving grace for next week is that HALEY is still in the competition and Gina has 100% more charisma in her pinky than Haley does in her entire body. Any Evanescence song is incredibly ambitious to sing because of Amy Lee’s range. Gina doesn’t have that range, so it became shouty and McKibbinish. It’s cool that she took on some more “edge” and honorable she did something contemporary and challenging. Totally intrigued to see what she pulls out this week.

TRACY: I totally heart Melinda--I think she's adorable, the whole "who, me?" thing (while it could get irritating later on) seems genuine, and her voice and her phrasing is AMAZING. She's so polished and professional, I can totally see her making it to the end. However, I wonder what kind of record she'd put out, since she keeps choosing older songs--can she bring it when it comes to contemporary music? We'll find out, but not this week, when the theme is Diana Ross....

TROY: I’m gonna get on a soap box and say that I actually hate the overuse of older songs on this show – 50s, 60s, and 70s. Mainly it is because that’s not the kind of music these contestants go on to record after this show. Fantasia’s “Hood Boi” sounds nothing like “Summertime.” Katharine McPhee’s “Over It” does not hold a candle to “Jailhouse Rock” or whatever she sang Elvis week. It’s fine to sing older songs, but you HAVE to throw in contemporary so we, the fans, don’t get bamboozled by you once you start recording your own music (Looking at you, Bo “The Real Trainwreck Thing” Bice)!

That said, Melinda is fantastic and I can’t wait to hear her sing something current.

TRACY: In the end, Antonella and Sabrina (*sob!*) got the boot for the women. I'm glad to see Antonella depart, if just to stop her EVIL ex-boyfriend from continuing to share his photo collection, but Sabrina's demise is an injustice of AJ Tabaldo proportions. I hope something good comes out of this for her.

TROY: If Lisa Tucker can get work, Sabrina should be able to find something. High School Musical 2, perhaps?

TRACY: As for the men, Jared and Sundance (and let the church say "Amen!") left the American Idol stage for good. I wholly agreed with Simon when he said Jared needed to work on his vocals and, I would add, stop vogue-ing into the camera. He did have a nice voice, but he was the right choice to go.

TROY: I don’t know why, but I actually think I liked Jared a bit better than Sanjaya, Chris Sligh and the Creepy Lightbulb. While slightly creepy himself, I felt Jared had some charisma that the others were missing. He does need training however. Maybe after another year he would have been a contender!

TRACY: Under normal circumstances, I would have said it's a shame that Sundance couldn't have stayed one more week instead of Sanjaya, but I think the Friends of Eddie Vedder and all aficionados of 90s alternative rock were obligated to deliver Mr. Head the smackdown after that aural abomination. The rule of the day is, unless you've got the voice of God when He spoke to Moses, you simply do not touch Pearl Jam.

TROY: Amen (even though I don’t worship Pearl Jam)!

TRACY: I loved that clip in the results show when Sundance told the camera something along the lines of "I don't think Simon had ever heard the song. That's how it's supposed to be sung." Yeah, if you're a singing GOAT being periodically electro-shocked, maybe.

TROY: In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Sundance again said that Simon didn’t understand the song and that he sang just as Eddie Vedder would have. Bitch, please.

TRACY: Excuse me. I have to go projectile vomit now.

All of that said, I do wish we could have seen him return to "Stormy Monday" form.

And by the way, who is voting for Sanjaya, anyway? The National Coalition for the Tone Deaf? He seems like a nice boy, but DUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE.

TROY: The Hula appreciation fan base?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

American Idol: Top 8 Guys

Troy and I took a break from blogging AI last week, because we had to recover from the shock of seeing AJ Tabaldo receive a COMPLETELY undeserved boot. We're back now, but we're still bitter.

Incredibly. Come back, dorky Leslie Hunt! Your atrocious scatting is missed!

TRACY: I LOVED AJ last week. He was like a happy little ping-pong ball, bouncing around the stage. And I thought his singing was TOTALLY fabulous. I hope something good comes out of his too-short exposure on national television, because he SO didn't deserve to go, sweet boy. As for who did deserve it ... Sanjaya and Phil "the Creepy Egg" Stacey, I'm staring at you.

TROY: Or Chris Sligh! Anyway, AJ totally got the shaft this week for all the reasons you've said.

TRACY: Although, speaking of good ol' Phil, I had thought he auditioned in the same city where he and his wife lived. He did not, so he couldn't have rushed home to be with her while she gave birth, and he probably didn't haul cameras into her recovery room. So ... I am chagrined. Phil Stacey deserves a little more love from me than he's gotten thus far.

TROY: No he doesn’t. He’s like the Taylor Hicks of this competition, but creepier and balder.

TRACY: And revisiting our aforementioned bitterness over AJ's untimely demise on the show, I am also saddened by the loss of my Boston meathead, Nick Pedro. While perhaps Simon was right about Nick being a little too laid back on stage, I would have loved to have seen him crack the top 12. He, at least, had an interesting and unusual voice. One that didn't make me want to projectile vomit at my TV or accidentally lapse into a coma.

TROY: And Nick, formerly known as “Quitter,” actually made me like him last week, so I was slightly devastated. I thought his voice was cool and unique, as opposed to whatever is coming out of Sanjaya’s mouth. Sorry Nick! I should have been on Team Nick from the beginning.

TRACY: Yet another reason why you should always listen to your sister. Anyway, on to last night's show.

To quote Gideon, that odd duck from last season who was, I believe, the first of the top 12 to get the boot, "You have to HAVE it. You HAVE to have it. You have to have IT."

These boys ain't GOT it. These BOYS ain't got it. These boys ain't got IT. At least most of them don't.

TROY: For the love of Tami Gosnell, these boys ain’t even got half of IT. None of the guys blow me away, but I think they could. There’s just a lot of bad song choice going on and a seemingly lack of enthusiasm.

TRACY: Blake was pretty good! I'm waiting for him to knock my socks off, though, and I'm guessing that he will at some point, but it wasn't last night, sadly. He's a shoo-in for the top 12, so I am not worrying on his account. Although this is two weeks in a row that he's beat-boxed. PLEASE don't let him be taking Randy's advice, because that schtick is gonna get old fast.

TROY: I was ALREADY sick of the beat boxing this week. Blake was my favorite guy for awhile, but I think he’s growing a Daughtry-sized ego pretty quickly. Chalk it up to the Unholy Allegiance of Chris Sligh, but I think Blake will need a slice of humble pie very quickly.

TRACY: Sanjaya was better, but better in this case doesn't necessarily mean I was off my head about the performance. And the hair. Oh, the hair....

TROY: :::shudder:::

TRACY: And the hula-ing! I mean, I'm all about being yourself, but that floaty little hula was atrocious. He looked like an acid-tripping Deadhead grooving out to "Sugar Magnolia." Appropriate for a Dead concert. Really odd for national TV.

TROY: I’m just finding Sanjaya to be super creepy. Neck and neck with the creepy lightbulb, in fact. Why are people voting for him? He has half the voice of CHICKEN LITTLE and zero of the personality. Plus, he’s totally on his way to becoming a Freddy, Jason, or Leatherface the way he continues to massacre a new song each week.

TRACY: I'd give that title to someone else altogether. For the sacrilege of butchering a much beloved Pearl Jam classic, Sundance Head deserves to be booted from the show right this second and followed around in perpetuity by a cattle-prod-wielding Cartman from South Park, who will proceed to zap him every time he even THINKS about warbling 90s alternative rock, even if it's in the shower. That was ... that was ... words cannot describe how awful, how past-their-prime bar band, how dear-God-my-ears-are-bleeding NASTY that rendition was. The boy needs to go, America. I mean it.

Sundance, I heard Eddie Vedder sing that song live in Seattle. I adore Eddie Vedder; Eddie Vedder's vocal cords are an American treasure. You, sir, are no Eddie Vedder.

TROY: Sundance isn’t even a Scott Stapp. ::::shudder:::

Seacrest SAID Sundance was singing a Pearl Jam song, but I didn’t even know what the heck it was until he sang the word “Jeremy.” What a frickin’ trainwreck! And what were the judges smoking for them to tell him it was great? Simply, it was a debacle of epic proportions. And I don’t even like Pearl Jam the way you do!

TRACY: I know! And can you imagine how our other brother Tom, card-carrying member of the Pearl Jam fan club, felt? I bet he's lying in a dark room somewhere with a cold cloth over his head.

Chris was better than I'd ever seen him. He has that generic boy band sound, but using it on a Keith Urban sound was genius. And sitting quietly on a stool and not doing the head-bopping Tequila shuffle? Even more genius. I'm not off my head yet, but this was good!

Oh, and Troy, what did you think about his re-dedicating a song to his grandma that was not about a sexual act. Good save, or icky reminder of something best left forgotten?

TROY: I don’t think anyone will be able to forget that debacle anytime soon. I just refuse to believe he doesn’t know what “Geek in the Pink” is about.

Chris is a’ight. He’s always slightly “pitchy,” but brings it more that a few of the other contestants (more on that soon). I’m not enthralled, but not annoyed either. Either be amazing or suck hard, Chris.

TRACY: Jared was weird. Weird facial expressions, weird shouting, weird song choice. I think someone is trying too hard to "love the laaaaaadieeessss," and it's NOT working. Dude, you're cute. We get it. Now get over yourself and sing, bitch.

TROY: Amen! At least he didn’t “sexily” rub his face this week. I want to like Jared, but he’s making it pretty impossible. I want him to pick fun songs, but he insists on picking and dedicating “Let’s Get It On” for his mother, while doing weird falsettos. He honestly wants to do better and, if he makes it to the top 12, I hope he’ll take the judges’ advice.

TRACY: Brandon started out fun and funky, but then we all started to realize that the melody did not budge from the first few notes, and somewhere in there, I fell asleep. This guy needs a lesson in song choice, fast. He's got the pipes and the easy stage presence to pull of something really grand, but he keeps putting us on the last train to Dullsville.

TROY: Brandon: the cure for insomnia

Brandon has a good voice, but he refuses to interpret. Instead, he sings JUST the notes on paper with a wide smile plastered across his face.

TRACY: Phil. (Must. Refrain. From. Creepy. Egg. Comments.) I know I said I should give Phil some more love, but I did not love this song. It was all over the place, and it didn't showcase what he can do. Last week was better, but the word of the day, people, was "untrained."

TROY: Just call him a creepy lightbulb instead! Anyway, creepy lightbulb sang a LEANN RIMES SONG. That’s just wrong. Plus, he totally reminds me of when Joey tried to look like a twenty-year-old on Friends. “Wack, yo.” When he’s standing in line with the other guys, it totally becomes a game of “One of these things is not like the other.”

I don’t know how much longer this lightbulb has left to shine ::bada-bing!::

TRACY: :::groan:::

Chris S. was a'ight, but I wasn't off my head about the song. He THINKS he's choosing great songs, but he's not. He needs something fun, with more range (because he's got one). And how awkward was it when he apologized for not bringing it? Don't apologize, you sad sack! OWN your awful song! OWN it!

TROY: Well, we know how much I love the Sligh. I just cannot muster up any kind of enthusiasm for him. He just has no endearing aspects and the talent isn’t phenomenal. Plus, once you talk back to the judges, you’re kinda dead to me.

I think this is just a detour on his quest for courage anyway. Follow the yellow brick road, Chris, and stay the heck off my TV set.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Finding His Child on eHarlequin

I just discovered that my April 2007 Intrigue, Finding His Child, is now available on early release exclusively at eHarlequin.com. (It will be available on Amazon, BN.com, and at your local Intrigue-carrying bookstore around April 10th.) This is Sabrina's story from my Mission: Family series, but I created it as a spin-off, so it stands completely on its own--i.e., if you haven't read the Mission series, you won't miss anything.

The book got 4 stars from RT BookReviews (I'll let you know if I get off my booty and send it anywhere else for review) which said, "Finding His Child is a first-rate mystery laden with chilling psychological suspense and the anguish of a parent's worst nightmare.

If you're now dying to know what worst nightmare, here's the blurb from the back cover:

He would do whatever it took to find his daughter.

It had been six long months since his beautiful daughter had disappeared. When another girl was kidnapped in the Washington State woods, Detective Aaron Donovan was convinced that the two crimes were related. After joining the search-and-rescue team, Aaron was forced to work with top-notch tracker Sabrina Adelante … and try to ignore the attraction they’d shared before his world was shattered. Offering up his military sniper skills, Aaron helped the group uncover some helpful clues. But then Sabrina nearly became a madman’s next victim, and Aaron wondered how he could possibly get close to another woman he cared about when he just might lose her.

Then again, how could he afford not to?

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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