Friday, June 3, 2011

'Til We Meet Again, Birmingham

So, tonight is my last night in Birmingham. As of 5 p.m. today, I was officially out of the collegiate athletics business and no longer employed at Samford. For a while now, I've felt God calling me to another career. For a bit, I thought I was being called to ministry. Now, I know I have been called to ministry. Just not the kind of ministry you think of when people say the word "ministry".

For 27 years of my life, I have watched my parents minister to people of all ages through their careers in education. Then my sister joined the ranks of teaching and I've been able to see God work through her.

I think for so long I tried to go as far away as I could from "they family business" that it eventually brought me back to what I was made to do. We all know that we can't escape God's will for our lives, and it is no different in this situation.

God has orchestrated an opportunity to for me to go back HOME to Jackson, be close to my family and friends, and do what I've been created to do.

Samford and Birmingham have played no small part in this orchestration and I will never be grateful enough for the people that God brought into my life here and for the things that I've learned.

So, in perfect Walden fashion, I've just formulated a list of things that I've learned and that I will miss from Birmingham:

1. I've learned that there's no getting around the fact that God is in control and that he's got this whole life thing rigged.

2. I've learned that you have to roll with the punches but never let someone punch you until you roll. Stand up for yourself but remember that respect is a two-way street.

3. I've learned that when a job makes you lose your passion for something, it's time to reevaluate.

4. No matter what anyone says, church and good small group are essential to Christian growth.

5. I'll miss seeing Hollie every day and all the complaining and encouraging and laughing that comes along with it. Friends like that are few and far between but it makes it easier knowing that I have four of those kind of friends waiting for me when I get home.

6. I'll miss Salem's and they way that Mr. Wayne and the hombres know exactly what I want before I even start to order it.

7. I'll miss my volleyball girls. They keep me laughing, feeling like a 20-year-old and up on the latest dance moves.

8. I'll miss baseball, because it's the only sport that I could legally cheer at.

9. I'll miss my football guys: Davis, Alvin and JT. And their moms.

10. Most of all, I'll miss my church. God knew what he was doing when he moved me to Birmingham, gave me a place to live and introduced me to a roommate who took me to a church that would rock my world for five years. I've been a Christian since I was seven years old, have won many rounds of Bible Baseball, but never have I really understood the Word and seen it in the light that I have for the last five years. And frankly, I needed it. God has opened my eyes to what I have been put here on Earth to do, and that is to glorify Him and proclaim his name to the ends of the earth.

So that's what I'll do.

And Birmingham, this isn't goodbye. It's see ya soon. I'll be back, probably more than you would like.

P.S. I wouldn't be my mother's child or my sister's sister if I didn't end this post with this video. Enjoy. And sing along. You know you want to.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Finales Galore

Last night was the last night for a few of my shows. I think I've mentioned before that reality TV has taken over my TV life as we know it, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that they were all reality shows.

First - the finale of Dancing With The Stars. I really think this was the closest finale there has been in a while. And even though Kirstie Alley wasn't as good as Hines Ward and Chelsea Kane, she has a huge personality and is loved by all and her journey through the show was incredible -- weight loss, bouncing back from setbacks during dances, etc.

I'm still glad Hines won the Mirror Ball Trophy. He's just an example of good people. He loves his momma, his job is more than a paycheck for him, and he's a truly caring person.

Second - the Biggest Loser finale. I know I said on Twitter that I swore off BL after they voted Arthur off the show. If you don't know anything about BL, Arthur was the biggest contestant the show has ever had and he also had the biggest heart. However, there was a lot of head and heart stuff that Arthur needed to get right in order to be successful in the weight loss journey and we all knew that if anyone needed to be on the BL ranch for any reason, it was Arthur.

But I digress, because BL saw its first all-girl top three and for the first time ever in the history of "couples" episodes, one team made it all the way to the very end. This team had me in tears every week, whether from laughing so hard or from heart-breaking stores. Two sisters, Hanna and Olivia. They were my favorites from the beginning and I, like the rest of the world, never thought they'd last all the way to the end.



But there's another reason they were my favorite. Hannah and Olivia's relationship reminded me of the relationship that I have with my own sister. Olivia is an amazing opera singer. So is my sister. The only difference between them is that Olivia is in New York City living her dream and my sister is in Florence, Mississippi, living hers. I found myself looking up to Olivia like I do my own sister and being so very proud of her like she was my own. Meanwhile, I could identify with Hannah, the younger sister, in so many ways and I beamed watching Hannah's pride in herself and for her sister grow each week. Relationships like that don't come around everyday and I'm so glad that I have the same bond with my sister.

Here's the video of Olivia singing on the scale when she finally eclipse the 100-pound loss mark. I wept.

And finally - the American Idol performance finale. Even though we won't know who wins until tonight, you know I had to comment a little.

I've got to say, I called it. And I'm sure the rest of America did, with the exception of my mom and sister who were big Hailey fans. This was an extremely talented season and I'm sure we will see lots of these contestants with their own albums as soon as the AI franchise releases them from their grasp.

It's amazing to see that it's come down to the two youngest contestants in AI history. The country music world is about to get a little bit (read: a lot bit) better because of these two.

Going into last night, and even up until the very last performance by Lauren Alaina, I just knew Scotty had it in the bag. The kid is a natural all the way around. He's comfortable on stage and rarely sings a pitchy note. But y'all, Lauren Alaina killed that Mama song. Up until that song, she was coming in second. But with that performance, she won the shebang. Y'all know the country music fans have been out in full force voting for these two, and y'all know country music fans love them some Mama songs. So, I'll let you do the math.

So there's my prediction. Lauren Alaina it is. However, I'll be glad to see either one of them do well. Either way, they'll both be making lots of money in the near future.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

American Idol - Top 3

I'm baaaaaaaack!

I seriously thought about not posting again this week because it's been a pretty emotionally draining week at work and today has been pretty hard as well. It's like the Samford universe said, "Hey! Katie's about to bounce outta this mug, so we need to hit her hard with some crazy happ'nins before she wises up."

(Yes, I'm leaving Samford. Birmingham, in fact. June 3, peeps. But that's a whole different post for another day.)

It's hometown week, y'all. I don't know about everyone else but I'm kinda excited to see where Scotty comes from.

And also, I'm calling it now. An all-country final. I'll pay you all 38 cents if it doesn't happen.

Scotty McCreery

Amazed - Scotty just keeps getting better and better. (You see what I did there? Hint: song lyrics.) This was probably THE most honest performance that Scotty has given. There wasn't an ounce of cheese in that performance and I'm pretty sure he kept the mic upright instead of turning it sideways. Progress, people. But seriously, all kidding aside. Scotty has become one of my favorites. And that's saying a lot coming from an anti-country person. (I mean, seriously. I picked an all-country final. Wha???) He was pitch perfect and he's got what, two more performances left?

P.S. He looks exactly like his momma.

Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not? - Y'all, I'm running out of ways to say that I love Scotty. I've heard this song twice. Both times I was in my friend Hollie's office. She has her TV on CMT in the morning and ESPN in the afternoon. And I really do like this song. It was great for Scotty and I love that he pulled out the guitar for this one. I'm thinking right now that Scotty is gonna be the one to beat. However, I might eat my words since there's two more performances and a whole 'nother round to go.

Well, as if luck would have it, my DVR cut off after an hour and a half and only caught it 10 minutes later, so I missed Scotty's entire third song. Pretty bummed about that. So it's up to y'all to let me know how he did.

Lauren Alaina

Wild One - Lauren has hit her stride. I don't know that she's going to do anything particularly bad from now on. She's so like-able and cute and she looked like she was having fun up there tonight. I really can't say anything bad about her performance besides the fact that she looked like she was the musical guest for this week's episode of "Hee-Haw" with those earrings.

If I Die Young - I actually like this song too. Maybe living in Alabama has had a little impact on my anti-country perspective. She did a great job with it too. I'm pretty sure she had a little flub coming out of the bridge at the modulation point but she covered it well. It's crazy how before she hits the stage she just seems so young and immature and innocent, and then the music starts and she's a completely different person. She's great and she will do great things.

I Hope You Dance - Great. Fantastic. Blah blah blah. Y'all, you can only say she's good in so many words.

Haley Reinhart

What It Is And What Will Never Be - Loved that her dad got to play in the band for her performance. That's pretty dang awesome. And I loved how she bounced back from the fall. I knew someone was going to do that this season. I just didn't know who it was going to be. Haley has really grasped the directions that the judges have been giving her with her song selection. I think, starting with Bennie and the Jets several weeks ago, she really has picked one great song after another that really fits her voice, in my opinion. This week, even though it wasn't really a well-known song, she pretty much killed it.

P.S. I'd love to see her dad go on the road with her when her career takes off.

Rhiannon - Hailey's so original that I'm really running out of things to say about her too. She's also very vintage and I love that about her. It was interesting to see her just stay in one place and sing. I thought it might get a little boring but her voice and the way she feels the music is so captivating that it kept my attention the whole time.

You Outta Know - Gotta admit. I wasn't really paying attention. I got distracted by text message. Sue me. Sounded great though.

I lost interest toward the end but I'm keeping to my prediction. Scotty and Lauren in the final.

Put your 38 cents where your mouth is.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

American Idol - Top 5

I have to say that I was sad to see Casey go last week but I wasn't surprised. This is definitely one of the most talented seasons AI has ever had. At this point, for me, it's anyone's game. They are all so very good and have their own appeal.

Two songs this week. And Sheryl Crow. Let's do this.


James Durbin - "Closer To The Edge"
I completely agree that his voice fits this genre even better than 80's metal rock. No question. Did I think this was greatness from James? No. Did I think it was good? Yes. The beginning was a little weak, and I'm not sure if James wasn't loud enough or if the music was TOO LOUD. I'm going to lean towards the latter. It was shaky for me until he hit the bridge. The bridge was great and is crowd interaction was en pointe but I still don't think it was his best. There is definitely something lovable about James though. And he definitely show us where he could be in the music biz in a few months.

Jacob Lusk - "No Air"
I wasn't really sure about this song selection for Jacob and I've gotta say I didn't like the performance all that much. It was really awkward for me to watch when he started groovin' and doing the Superwoman punch-out move. Also, the beginning was a little to high for my liking. It sounded weird. When he hit the bridge and the chorus it got better but I just felt like there wasn't a lot of substance in the performance. It was a little pitchy and maybe a little sharp (confirmed by Randy). I am glad to know what kind of music he would release though.

Lauren Alaina - "Flat On The Floor"
Love this song. Loved the performance. Best of the night so far. I loved that Sheryl said to stand in a strong position and let the audience come to her. Lauren did that to night and it was great. Her energy was so high that she didn't need to move around the stage or get in the audience. That's a powerful song anyway so it doesn't need a lot behind it. It's one of those head-banging songs and she definitely had me head-banging.

(Can I just say again that I love Jennifer Lopez as a judge? She's fantastic.)

Scotty McCreery - "Gone"
This suits Scotty well and it was Scotty's best performance yet, in my opinion. There was nothing awkward or pitchy or fake about this performance. It was real, fun and real fun. And he sounded incredible too. It still blows my mind that that voice comes out of a kid like that. It's flawless. You can tell that Scotty has grown exponentially in this process, both as a person and as an artist. Yes ma'am Ms. Crow, he's got a great career ahead of him. Both he and Lauren Alaina just gave us a glimpse at what their concerts will be like in a year or two.

Haley Reinhart - "You And I"
My favorite thing about this performance? The violinist with the afro. Quality.

This is my feeling about Haley. Haley makes you love songs. I love Bennie and the Jets before she sang it and whenever I heard the song I thought of the movie 27 Dresses. Now, when I hear it I think of Haley. Adele's song Rolling In The Deep? Haley sang it two weeks ago. I've been obsessed with it since. Now, Gaga. I'm not a Gaga fan, but I love this song now. She had a moment like Sheryl said. Yes, she did. That's the thing about Haley, she just goes out there and sings. It's not premeditated, or at least it doesn't look that way. She has also definitely grown and come into her own. This is her sound, and I like it.

Well, the judges didn't really like it. I don't get it.


James Durbin - "Without You"
There was definitely honesty in this performance. There were some really special parts in there too but overall, I just didn't like it. I wanted to like it because I know that song meant a lot to him but I think his emotions took over a little and it didn't work out too well for him. They kind of took him to that Yelly McScreamy place that I've noticed he goes to when he doesn't know what else to do. It just didn't work out this time. The last note was great though.

"It wasn't perfect, but it was emotionally perfect," said Randy Jackson. Tu chez, dog.

Jacob Lusk - "Love Hurts"
I think a lot of people are going to say that Jacob killed this song. I think he hurt severely injured it. I don't think it was great enough to say that he killed it but it was pretty darn good. Again, I wasn't sure about this one either but he pulled it through. I think it was a bold move and I think it was a good move, but I still don't think that he's made his case tonight.

Lauren Alaina - "Unchained Melody"
First of all, I love her dress. Second, I love her runs. Third, I loved this performance. It was sweet and gritty and elegant all at the same time. From a country point of view, she just put LeAnn Rimes to shame.

Scotty McCreery - "Always On My Mind"
Again, there's not much to judge here. I just sat back and enjoyed because it was another snippet of the Scotty McCreery national tour. He's just so good and I think he's made himself a front runner tonight.

Haley Reinhart - "The House Of The Rising Sun"

Best Contemporary: Scotty
Best Oldie: Haley
Best overall: Scotty
In trouble: Jacob

What do you think?

Samford Gives Back

As everyone knows, this area of the country was hit hard by the outbreak of tornadoes last week. Starting in Tuscaloosa, a tornado traveled some 200-plus miles through Alabama and into Georgia, leaving a path of destruction along the way.

I've only been able to get out to help once since it all happened. Sunday was the day. I'm still trying to wrap my head and heart around what I saw and I hope to share my experience, pictures and videos with you all on the blog here within the next week.

But for now, I wanted to share with you a story that appeared on our website today. It tells of the hearts of our amazing student-athletes, young men and women that I have the pleasure to work with every day. Students whose hearts explode for the people and communities around them in their darkest times.

The story is posted below. Please keep the disaster victims in your prayers as well as the thousands of people who are pouring out their hearts, lives and wallets to aid in relief. And pray that God continues to grow young people like the ones in this story.
May 4, 2011

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - An estimated 100 Samford student-athletes spent most of the weekend volunteering in Pratt City, Ala., helping victims of last week's tornado outbreak.

Pratt City is one of many areas in the state of Alabama that was hit hard by the severe weather that came through the area last Wednesday. Scott Elementary School served as a base for collecting supplies people needed. Samford's student-athletes helped with delivering supplies to victims of the storms.

One of the groups of student-athletes who traveled to Pratt City to assist with the clean-up was football player Devyn Keith, along with teammates Bill Kottas, Jacobi Rodriguez and Jeremy Towns, and women's basketball player Jazmine Powers.

"Right after we saw the disaster, J.T. (Towns) and I immediately got on the phone, calling people, because we understood that those were people that we knew," Keith said. "After seeing what happened in Huntsville, I'm from Huntsville, and since I couldn't get up there, I said `let me go and see what happened to these people.' I didn't get to go down that day because I had to work, but we went down on Friday.

"We felt like it was an obligation," Keith said. "When you see that type of thing, you can't do anything but help, because here at Samford we were so blessed to not be affected that much by the tornados."

The group of athletes filled Kottas' truck with supplies and went down to Cherry Avenue, which was hit hard by the storms, checking door-to-door with people to see what supplies they needed.
One of the more touching stories that came out of this experience came from Keith. As he was working in the area, a lady pulled up in her car and Keith stopped her to see if she needed anything. She asked him if he was going to take care of her. He responded, "No, ma'am. I can't take care of you. God's going to take care of you. I'm just going to help out."

As the lady cried in her car, Keith reached in and hugged her and let her continue to cry. Keith loaded her car with sandwiches and other supplies. He then told her that he loved her and that everything was going to be alright. "We told her we loved her and we prayed for her," Keith said.

"She said she was really moved by the fact that we were out there. She said she had lost everything."

Powers said she had planned to go home that weekend, but she had a feeling she needed to help out in Pratt City.

"I was originally going to go home that Friday after class, but something just told me I needed to go and experience this," Powers said. "I was even packing up and my mind just shifted, telling me I needed to go. I got some stuff that I wasn't using in the house like soap and some other items I had and I just took it over and we went down there."

Powers said the experience of helping people who had just lost everything was something that really touched her. She said it was a tremendous experience.

"It was very emotional, but at the same time, you knew you were doing something great," Powers said. "I went to one lady's house, she was there by herself, and I brought a case of water into her kitchen. She just broke down and cried and gave me a hug. She said it was good to know that there are good people out there and that God is good and he is still looking after us.

"That was the part that was emotional for me, because they would get emotional, knowing that people were out there trying to help," Powers said. "It was a great experience and I was so glad I went over there."

Caroline Summers, Samford's senior photographer, was on hand to document the relief efforts for the university. Summers said she was touched by the efforts of the Samford students.

"I have always felt that I was blessed to work on a campus filled with such amazing people, both faculty and students," Summers said. "But, I must say, that I have never been prouder to be associated with Samford University than I was this weekend. These students don't just help out for something to do, they truly care."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April's Fury

So considering that we just ended the 24-hour weather watch marathon here in Sweet Home Alabama (officially dubbed by Fox 6 as April's Fury), there won't be an American Idol recap again tonight (sorry to disappoint AGAIN, Anna Little Morris!).

I do plan to hop on the interwebs and watch it tomorrow but I've got to say, it won't be the same with out my Stefano.

On another less humorous note, most of you around the South have probably heard about the terrible weather we had here in Alabama today. It was pretty wide spread throughout the state but I think it's safe to say that Tuscaloosa and Cullman got hit the worst. We're talking major destruction and fatalities.

Please keep the people who have been affected by these storms in your prayers. The people of Alabama have already started trying to find out how they can help in disaster relief and I couldn't be more excited to hear that. These storms today were no mistake. They were caused by The One who holds ALL in his hands.

I couldn't have said it better than what one of my college professors said on Twitter today: "Words that never rang truer than today: I will praise You in this storm..."

So, that's just what I'll do. I'll praise God for the incredible display of power that he put on today in his creation of nature and through his people. I pray that he gets the glory in the disaster relief of these storms.

To Him who can do immeasurably more than we can ask.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday? What happened to Monday and Tuesday?

So, no American Idol post for me tonight.

I'm swimming in a sea of track & field championships and softball and awards banquets and other stuff that I can't quite talk about on here yet but that is sucking up all of my time this week.

Not to mention, I'm on migraine number two this week.

So, no American Idol post for me tonight.

I'll leave the commenting to you this time.

And, maybe, if I have time tomorrow, I'll let you guys know what I thought.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Video Madness

1. This one gave me chills.

2. This one reminded me a little bit of the "It's A Small World" ride at Disney World.

3. This one is just funny. Go here and scroll to the bottom and click on the media video, "Acts In Three Minutes".

4. This one is scary.

5. This is precious. My nephew William's sweet moves to Thriller.

William's Sweet Moves from Katie Walden on Vimeo.

6. And last but not least, this one just because.

American Idol - Top 8

I still can't believe Pia's gone but if anyone is going to have success after this show, it will be Pia.

It's movie night. Let's roll...

Paul McDonald - "Old Time Rock & Roll"
I give Paul an A- and the saxophone player a C+. I coulda done without her. But Paul's performance was good. I feel like Paul is coming into his own now and, no pun intended with the suit, but his flower is starting to bloom a little. (Yikes) I think we've always known that Paul is talented in the singer/songwriter area but he's really becoming a performer now. He's becoming a contender.

(P.S. Can we get Steven Tyler to say something negative? At all? I mean even like, "I don't like that color red on you"? Anything?)

Lauren Alaina - (I bet she does "The Climb")
What did I say? Nice play on words, Seacrest. This was great. I loved it. It was so much better than the Miley Cyrus version where Miley just YELLS THE LYRICS AT YOU! Lauren Alaina sings so effortlessly (like Pia does) and I really think she's finding herself again.

(P.P.S. I kinda love Will.I.Am on the mentor sessions with the contestants. He's weird on the stage, but he's funny and very knowledgeable.)

Stefano Langone - "End Of The Road"
Not only is Stefano my all-time favorite Idol contestant (bold claim there), this is one of my all-time favorite songs. This Boyz II Men classy and I go all the way back to my hand-me-down stereo and my old room at the Old Spanish Trail house. But I digress.

Y'all I really don't need to tell you what I think about Stefano's performance because no matter what the judges think about Stefano's performance, I'm slightly biased, and Stefano can do no wrong tonight. So (insert unbiased commentary here).

(And he's dressed like a member of Boyz II Men.)

Scotty McCreery - "I Cross My Heart"
This song was in my big piano book of movie songs. Ok, I think Scotty's going to have a great career as a country music artist. People love him already and country music fans are the most loyal fans around. However, I didn't like this performance very much. It may have been more of the Loudy McLoudersons that he had as BGVs. I did really like the bridge and I did feel like this was his least cheesy performance on the show, but it wasn't really my fave. Also, we need to stop the whole "I wanna hold the mic with two hands but that's kinda girly so I'll just prop it up on the side" deal. It's almost as distracting as Christina Aguilera's finger waves.

Casey Abrams - "Nature Boy"
Ok, Jimmy Iovine has a point. The reason he is there is to help because contestants on this show need guidance. No question about it. I liked Casey's performance. Like I said last week, and like Forrest Gump said circa 1995, he's like a box of chocolates. You never know what your gonna get.And y'all, the runs at the end? And the off note at the end? This guy has some kind of talent that a lot of people just don't appreciate. I usually like Casey because I like that quirkiness. Will the rest of voting America like Casey tonight? Probably not. But he just got a standing ovation from the judges and that proves that sometimes, even most of the time, you have to shut out the white noise (in this case Jimmy Iovine) and just go with your gut.

Haley Reinhart - "Call Me"
This is hard for me because I think Haley is the weakest person left in the competition but I feel like she is such a unique talent and performer that people should see her more. I just liked the performance this week, didn't love it. There were bright and shiny spots in the performance but there were also a lot of "yikes" spots too. I don't know that she's strong enough to stay in the competition, especially if Stefano's performance went over as well as everyone thinks it did.

(J-Lo made a great point though when she said that it's hard to say anything negative this season because everyone is so good. I think this is the strongest season of AI since Carrie Underwood's season.)

Jacob Lusk - "Bridge Over Trouble Water"
Jacob just took AI to CHURCH, y'all. To CHURCH! Steven Tyler took the words right off of my computer screen when he said that it's astounding how much of Jacob that Jacob pours into his performances. And that's what "taking it to church" means. Nestling right down in the gritty parts of songs and bring them out and slaying them that the person listening to it has a spiritual experience with the song. Singing the song so hard with emotion that the person on the very back row feels that emotion as much if not more than you do. Jacob did that tonight.

James Durbin - "Heavy Metal"
This was a great way to end the show. James Durbin is bringing heavy metal back. The kid is growing on me, y'all. Yelly McScreamy is growing on me. Dang it.

Best of the night: James and Stefano
Worst of the night: Haley
May end up in the bottom three: Haley, Paul, Casey (please just give Stefano a break America!)
Probably going home: Haley

True Maroon Goes Global

This took my day to new heights...or another land. Whatevs.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

American Idol - Top 9

There are a few other things that I probably should be doing at this moment instead of review American Idol, like sleeping because I have a migraine that makes my right eye involuntarily weep, but my commitment to all six of you that read my recaps is undying. You are welcome.

I've got to say, this elimination process is going to get harder. This is a very talented group of kids and I think it's going to come down to who has the best week. Everyone has to be on their toes from now on.

Let's do this.

Jacob Lusk - "Man In The Mirror"

First of all, I thought that the backup singer to Jacob's right was Naima at first glance and almost yelled at the TV, "No fair!" But I realized it wasn't and saved me from myself. Second of all, say what you want about MJ, but the guy made some incredible music. (Same with Elton John from last week. Dude is probably off his rocker but is a musical genius.) Now to Jacob. This was a pretty flawless performance for me vocally. I don't think there were any pitchy spots and he didn't really over-sing more than the song needed to be. It was a great performance. At this point, we all know what Jacob can do and we all know what we are going to get from him each week. Now, we need to be pleasantly surprised each week.

Haley Reinhardt - "Piece Of My Heart"

Last week was Haley's coming out party. I think she really kind of found her niche and she continued that this week. I'm glad that she chose and Janis Joplin song so that it would shut everybody up. I usually don't like the Yelly McScreamy on this show. However, this is a good vibe for her. It looks good on her, she does it well, and people respond to it. One of her best performances to date. And J-Lo was digging it.

Casey Abrams - "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" (I realized Thursday morning that I put Casey James instead of Casey Abrams and I had to laugh a little because, y'all, Casey James was some good scenery last season.)

I love this song, especially during a baseball rain delay. But I also loved Casey's sound on this. He has the perfect voice for this song and he performed it very well. Another thing I love about Casey is that yes, we always know what we are getting with him, but in a completely different way than the other people that I say this about on the show. You always know that he's going to change it up and you never know when he's going to pull out the upright bass. Tonight, I felt like I was watching a Casey James concert. I think this is exactly the type of music he would record. And again, I love the grit and softness that he mixes together.

Lauren Alaina - "Natural Woman"

I love seeing this mature side of Lauren. And it's not too mature in the case that she's singing way older than her age but her voice and tone is very mature so she's in a sense matching that. This was a great performance for me. It was good to see her wail on a song that isn't an upbeat poppy tune for once. She followed some big shoes considering Kelly Clarkson crushed this song in season one. I don't think it was quite up there with Kelly's version, but she is definitely getting her confidence back and it's showing.

(If the performances keep going like this, it's going to be a hard elimination this week.)

James Durbin - "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

This was a great change of pace for James. I actually enjoyed the slower performance from him. It was good to see him kind of rein in his energy and deliver a controlled performance, considering he's been all over the venue the last few weeks. I think he just had a moment on the stage, emotionally and artistically. Dangerous move, but a good one.

Scotty McCreery - "That's Alright Momma"

Ok. If I closed my eyes, I'd say that this was a great performance. He sounded great. Always does. But there was something about his mannerisms that I just didn't connect with. I found them a little distracting. I kind of wanted to whisper to the TV, "Hey Scotty, just stand there and sing." It was a great performance, but it just tickled me.

Pia Toscano - "River Deep, Mountain High"

Oh. My. Wow. She just killed an upbeat song. This girl will be in the finals. No doubt. That's it.

Stefano Langone - "When A Man Loves A Woman"

Dear Stefano, will you marry me? Check yes or no.

That was incredible. I loved the falsetto at the beginning and the runs at the end and everything inbetween. So good.

Paul McDonald - "Folsom Prison Blues"

Paul just delivered a true Nashville performances. This was a great take on a great classic and he delivered it well. It fit his style, looked good on him and was entertaining. Great way to end the show.

Best of the night: Pia and Stefano

Worst of the night: Comparatively speaking, Scotty

In trouble: Scotty, Haley, Jacob (Again, comparatively speaking)

The Global Intiative

Surprise! This post is actually NOT about American Idol. Shocker. I know.

I hate that blogging has been put on the back-burner lately, since it's one of the very things that I love to do. Life has been kicking me in the hindparts lately, all whilst chasing me in this race some people would call work. I don't know that I've ever been this busy in my five years here at Samford. It's not all work's fault though. I'm getting ready for the next stage in my life (to be announced at a later date) and that, my friends, has been part of the problem. As lovely as it is.

But digress, I'm here to share a little linky click that meant to share about two weeks ago. This blog blessed my heart and I encourage you to read it and watch the videos and enjoy it as well.

It's called The Global Initiative and was written by my pastor, David Platt, on a recent trip to India. There are a few reasons why I love this link:

1. D. Platt has a way with words and his perspective on global disciple-making and the Word has completely revolutionized the way I look at the world and my faith right now. And he and his wife Heather are just precious.

2. It was so good to see my church family's faith, sacrifice and money at work in India.

3. It challenged me to look at how I'm living the gospel out in my everyday life. Especially the last post, "Do We Really Believe What We're Saying?"

I took about an hour out of my day a couple of weeks ago to read every post on this blog. I encourage you to do the same. Or at least break it up and read it all. I hope you are as challenged and encouraged by it as I am.


Global Initiative Blog

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Top 11...Again

Y'all, I was about to throw my TV out the window when they said Casey had been voted off. But then I thought about who bought that TV and I heard the judges say that they were going to use the save. And all was right with the world again.

This week two go. I don't know that I can take it. Last week was one of the best Top 11 shows in the history of AI.

Let's see what happens.

(BTW, what is with Seacrest's hair. He sort of looks like Leonardo DiCaprio from Catch Me If You Can.)

Scotty McCreery - "Country Comfort"
I was a little worried about this one because well, Elton John and country music aren't very "alike" terms. However, Scotty did his thang again. When Jimmy Iovine said in the intro that he was worried that Scotty would become a one-trick pony, I had to agree. But then he said that it was the be one trick he's seen from a 17-year old, and I had to second that as well. The thing I like about Scotty is that he knows who he is and you always know what you are going to get from him. This could come back and bite him in the long run but for now, I think it's working for him. And wow, at the low note at the end. I also loved him and the guitar.

Naima Adedapo - "I'm Still Standing"
This is the first performance of Naima's that I have actually liked. The arrangement was kinda brilliant. There's still something about her that I just can't connect to and I still think that she's one of the weaker ones on the show but, I liked it.

(The judges didn't love it, though. I guess I just like reggae then.)

Paul McDonald - "Rocket Man"
Somehow I knew Paul would do this song. I loved the verse but when he hit the chorus it was kind of all over the place. He reined it in and got it back towards the bridge and I liked the ending, but I don't know. I don't know that it's going to hurt him this week but he probably should have a great week next week if he wants to stay in it.

Pia Toscano - "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me"
She is incredible. This was brilliant. And even though it was another ballad, it was a soulful change and I loved it. But next week? Give me an upbeat number, puh-puh-puh please?!?

(P.S. Steven just said something about the notes that she chose to sing in that song. He was right. It couldn't have been more perfect and it might have been better than the original IMO.)

Stefano Langone - "Tiny Dancer"
I love this song. I love him. I don't know what it was about the audience -- I guess they were mesmerized because they reacted afterward. He sang it brilliantly. We all know he sings brilliantly. I think it was a good moment for him after last week. I hope people go vote for him because he deserves to be there for a few more weeks.

Lauren Alaina - "Candle In The Wind"
This was incredible and I think she just had an AI moment on that stage just now. She looked like a pro. Lauren reminds me of Natalie, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks (who were my favorite group until they got on their political high horse). She's got this originality to her country voice, something that you don't find much of in country music. This was the perfect song for her. She killed it, IMO.

James Durbin - "Saturday Night's Alright"
When I heard this song in the open of the show, I knew that James would be the one to do it. And y'all, I loved it. I don't usually love Yelly McScreamy performances (a la Adam Lambert) but I was very much entertained with this one. It was one of his best performances, maybe his best. And Randy made a good point that he comes out and enjoys himself on stage which makes the audience enjoy the performance that much more.

Thia Megia - "Daniel"
I think she accomplished what she wanted with this song. I felt her heart when she was singing this song and it wasn't a drama performance like her last weeks have been. She is such a good singer for 17 years old. The song was really good for her too. Randy's right. It was still a little safe. I just wish she would do something FUN!

Casey Abrams - "Your Song"
Redemption. This song was redemption for Casey. This performance showed everything that we have come to love about Casey. The soft, sweet side for most of the song and the gritty soul towards the end. This was a great change from the past week. Perfection.

Jacob Lusk - "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word"
Jimmy Iovine was right. This could've been over-dramatized to the nth degree by Jacob but I really felt like he kept it under control. We all know Jacob can sing a heartfelt ballad by now. Now, he's got to figure out another way to get to us. This is a good performance, just not great for me. Would've been a good way to end the show, though.

Haley Reinhardt - "Bennie And The Jets"
I've called a lot of these songs for these people and I called this one for Haley. I really liked how she did this. It started out a little iffy for me but she rocked it at the end, man. I was head-banging and nose-scrunching along with J-Lo. I think this was one of her best performances, maybe her best since she been on this stage. I really did all come together tonight for her. I'm glad for her.

Y'all, this week is going to be HARD! Every single person did a really good job.

Best of the night: Haley, Lauren and James
Worst of the night: Paul and Naima
Probably in trouble: Paul, Naima and (ouch!) Stefano


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

American Idol - Top 11

It's Motown night! I love it!

Casey Abrams - "I Heard It Through The Grapevine"
Other than the screechy parts at the beginning and the end where he tries to go up into his higher register, I loved everything about this performance. For me, Casey Abrams can do no wrong. Loved the BGVs, loved the strings, LOVED how he played to the audience. J-Lo said that she was trying to figure out if there was anyone out there like Casey Abrams right now and to be honest, I was thinking that too throughout this whole performance. I was trying to figure out who he sounded like and who he reminded me of, but I couldn't come up with anyone. That's fantastic. He knows who he is and he stays true to that, and everyone also knows exactly what they are getting with Casey. Casey said that this is where he was most comfortable, and it definitely showed tonight. Great way to start the show.

Thia Megia - "Heat Wave"
I enjoyed seeing this side of Thia. She looked more comfortable and I think it was a nice change for her. I still think she's got a lot of work to do when it comes to connecting with the audience right now. (And she missed a few lyrics too.) It's sad because she's got an INCREDIBLE voice. There was not one bad note in that performance, but I feel like she played it a little safe. She could've taken that song on a ride, belted a little bit and added some Diana Ross-type runs, but she didn't. And I know it's just because she's just a shy girl. I want her to do so well and I feel like AI just needs to crack that shell of hers. But she did look precious.

(Does anyone else get the feeling that Steven Tyler is just there for the front row seat and to make funny (and sometimes inappropriate) jokes? He loves every performance and never has anything bad to say. Dear Steven, judge already!)

Jacob Lusk - "You're All I Need"
Ok, y'all know that Jacob Lusk has been disappointing me lately with all the crazy runs and high notes and stuff. Well, tonight, Jacob won me over. I loved the restraint that he showed without losing himself and his style. Jacob took the critique that he has been getting and applied it this week and it paid off. This song was pitch-perfect and performance-perfect. What I love about Jacob is that he puts all of himself into every song that he sings, and I loved when he said that he doesn't just want to go out and sing a song that everyone knows but that he wants to sing something that is going to inspire someone. I wish that y'all could've seen my face during this performance because my eyes were as wide and my smile was as big as it gets. I love love loved this performance!

Lauren Alaina - "Keep Me Hanging On"
First of all, I'm not an animal print person but I LOVED her dress! Second of all, I loved this performance. She brought every single bit of confidence out there on the stage and left it out there. I think this was one of her better performances and I loved how she fused her little country twang swag into it. It was really good, and I'm glad that she did well this week. I hope this will be a confidence boost for her.

Stefano Langone - "Hello"
Y'all know I have a slight TV crush on Stefano. He is precious and his voice is like "butta" to me. I never really liked this song until they did it on Glee. Then I fell in love with it. Now, I'll probably buy it on iTunes and play it over and over again. Stefano has incredible pitch and feels his songs a lot like Jacob does. He did better with the closing of the eyes issue that everyone seems to be preoccupied with, but my stance on that is if you are feeling a song, you can't help but close your eyes. Either way, it was one of my favorites of the night.

(P.S. I don't understand what they aren't seeing emotionally. I'm feeling his passion from my living room so I don't see what they are missing.)

Haley Reinhart - "You Really Got A Hold On Me"
There's no denying that Haley can sing. We all know that and we all know that she can belt and do runs and all that. I just don't think that this was the right song for her. I think she could've KILLED some Aretha, and that's saying a lot. But then again, Aretha may have been too predictable. I'm not saying it was a bad performance by any means either, I just don't think that it did anything to indicate what kind of artist she will be. I can see her as an Adele/Alicia Keys-type artist but this wasn't it.

Scotty McCreery - "For Once In My Life"
Ok, Scotty's already got a record deal waiting for him. The kid is pure country music. I really actually liked the arrangement and it fit pretty well as a country song. My problem was that Scotty was a little awkward. I feel like maybe he tried to rock it a little to hard where the song just wasn't rockable. There was nothing else wrong with the song except for that. Scotty knows how to play to an audience, probably more than anyone else on the show. That alone will probably save him. I just didn't like the awkwardness of the non-rockable parts of the song.

Pia Toscano - "All In Love Is Fair"
I was really hoping that she would do an upbeat song but it didn't matter because she just killed that song. She had a nice little Celine Dion vibe going there. The way that she transitions from her chest voice to her head voice is fuh-law-less. She's just so good. I hope that this ballad deal doesn't get too old for people but I think that if she continues to kill songs like that, it won't even matter.

Paul McDonald - "Tracks Of My Tears"
I can't hear this song without thinking of my Dad's performance of it at my sister's rehearsal dinner. I wish I had video because it was incredible, complete with handmade props. But I digress. I loved the singer-songwriter vibe that Paul put on this song. That is totally his element and he seemed much more comfortable up there with his guitar. Also, the guitar prevent the herky-jerky moves that he's been laying out on stage lately too. This really showed what kind of artist Paul is going to be.

Naima Adedapo - "Dancing In The Street"
I thought this was one of Naima's better performances. She wasn't as pitchy as she usually is. I think she did make it a performance with the African vibe added to it but I could've done without the dancing. I think she could've done a lot more vocally with this song but maybe she played it a little safe this time so that she wouldn't be called out for being pitchy this week. I still haven't found what I'm looking for with Naima. She's just okay for me.

James Durbin - "Livin' For The City"
Ok, I've been comparing James to Adam Lambert for a while. I now think that he's nothing like Adam Lambert. Why? Because Adam Lambert was a showy fake rocker. He became what his voice sounded like. James' voice is who he is. He's a true blue rock 'n' roller. He's got the soulful sound that Steven Tyler has that makes him who he is. I'm actually starting to like James. I think this was a good performance for him.

Best of the night: Jacob and Lauren Alaina
Worst of the night: (This is a hard one because I enjoyed them all) For me, it was Hailey.
In trouble: Hailey, Naima and Paul

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

American Idol - Top 12

I promise one day I'm going to write about actual life on this here blog one day soon, but for now, I'll just keep to my couch-potato judging ways.

Naima Adedapo - "What's Love Got To Do With It"
I didn't think that warranted a standing ovation but it was just okay for me. (I wish Steven could be mean, just once.) It was very pitchy. (Thanks, J-Lo.) She's definitely a good entertainer. But she's got some work to do when it comes to the actual singing part. Her pitch is off. I think if she gets that, I might like her a little more.

Paul McDonald - "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blue"
This makes me sad. I didn't really know how this song would go off with him and I didn't really like it much. I just don't think it was the right song. I still love his voice and his charisma. He definitely made it sound original but I just don't think it was his best performance.

Thia Megia - "Colors Of The Wind"
I think this song was perfect for her because she fits the Disney pop princess mold to a T. She's got an incredible voice for a 16 year old. And she wrote her first song at 6? I wrote a song when I was 8 but it wasn't as good as that one. And I kind of ripped off "White Christmas" too. However, I'm a little concerned that she doesn't really know what type of artist she is (ballads) and I'm also concerned that she's losing her luster a little.

James Durbin - "I'll Be There For You"
The first line of this was kind of horrible but he totally redeemed himself afterwards. This was the first GOOD performance of the night. He's a great performer and this definitely the genre of music for him. But we've always known that. He's going to be one of those that will always put his spin on a song . And that's good for someone like him. He's growing on me.

Hailey Reinhart - I'm Your Baby Tonight"
When I heard she was doing Whitney Houston, I was hoping she would pick this song. It's not as well known as the others so she doesn't have so much to live up to but it's a different vibe for her. I thought this was great and I thought it was her best performance since she's been on this stage. She definitely brought originality to the song with the awesome bluesy-jazzy tone of her voice. She really relaxed up there and kind of rocked it, and I was glad to see this side of her. Good job. She also looked fantastic (except did anyone else catch that she had a spot of lipstick on her chin and her cheek where she must've rubbed the microphone over it? Ha. And now that Ryan pointed out, I guess you did.).

Stefano Langone - "If You Don't Know Me Be Know"
Stefano, I feel, has incredible pitch. The kid could sing the ABC song and it was sell records. He is mad talented and feels every single word he is singing. I definitely agree that this was the best performance of the night so far. It was a hard song for someone to sing because of many different reason, two of which are that it's iconic and two because it has the potential to be slow and boring. Stefano put so much soul into that and I expect nothing less. He's still my second favorite boy in this competition.

Pia Toscano - "Where Do Broken Hearts Go"
Y'all, PIa Toscano has come out of nowhere and has become a front-runner of this competition. I was glad this wasn't another ballad and I was a little worried when she said she was doing this song. But she nailed it. Nailed. It.

Scott McCreery - "Can I Trust You With My Heart"
This was a great performance by Scotty. He knows who he his and where he wants to go with it. Nothing more to say except the girls really like him.

Karen Rodriguez - "Love Will Lead You Back"
This is the first night that she looks like an actual performer and not a pageant contestant. I believed her as an artist tonight for the first time. I feel like her voice is still one of the weaker ones in the competition. I want to believe that she has more power in that voice of her but every time she gets to a powerful peak in her voice, she doesn't go with it. She falls back on it. But it was a great performance.

Casey Abrams - "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
This was a gutsy move for Casey Abrams. He either just gained a lot of fans or lots a lot. I loved this performance. It's one-of-a-kind for this show. I think he killed it.

Lauren Alaina - "I'm The Only One"
REDEMPTION. This was the perfect song for her and for someone who is battling the flu, she killed it. SO GOOD.

Jacob Lusk - "Alone"
I really thought he would kill this. And some people probably thought he did. I feel like he was sharp throughout a lot of this performance. He's got to tone it down a little because when he over-sings is where he really starts to get sharp. He's still great and I love the way he pours his soul into every song he sings. That's what a gospel singer does. But I don't think it was his best. still better than "I Believe I Can Fly".

Best of the night: Stefano and Lauren Alaina
Worst of the night: Paul and Karen
In Jeopardy: Paul because I don't how many people he's connecting with and Karen because I don't think she has stepped it up as much as everyone else has. I mean who would you send home over her?

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

American Idol - Top 13

In a season with all the twists and the turns, I would expect nothing less than a Top 13.

Let's do this.

Lauren Alaina - "Any Man Of Mine"
This song takes me back to Paige Flanagan's bedroom and our feeble attempts at country line dancing. That's right, I said, country. line. dancing. But I digress. I think Lauren could sing the phonebook and I'd love it. This girl's voice is so effortless. But I don't think the song was just right. I love the song but I think it was a little weak to open the show. With that said, she is a pure country talent and she will have a great career whether she wins American Idol or not. And she's cute as a button.

Casey Abrams - "With A Little Help From My Friends"
Casey Abrams could be Brody Jenner's long lost homeless twin brother. Look it up, people. It's the truth. Anyway, Casey just killed that song. I would by a ticket to his concert tomorrow. They talked about feeling and being felt and stuff, Casey Abrams makes me feel what he sings every time. I love him. I hope he goes very far.

Ashthon Jones - "When You Tell Me That You Love Me"
This girl could've killed this song but she didn't. It was just okay for me. I hope everyone else liked it because I like her. She's got the IT factor. Of course she reminds me of Beyonce, but I see a lot of Jennifer Hudson in her. She a D-I-V-A, fo sho.

Paul McDonald - "Come Pick Me Up"
I know a lot of people may not like Paul because, well, he's a little awkward on stage. I think he's very natural and raw. When he sings, it's not premeditated. I felt like this may not have been the best song for him. It possibly started a little low because he would just go flat on the last notes of the phrases in the first verse. But like homeboy said on the intro package, Paul's voice is something AI's needed for a while so I hope this performance didn't hurt him too much. Maybe all of the girls will just remember his beautiful smile.

Pia Toscano - "All By Myself"
Wow. That is all.

James Durbin - "Maybe I'm A Man"
I still can't get over how he reminds me of Adam Lambert and, well, we all know how I feel about him. With that said, I thought James reined in the yelly-voice and did this song justice. He did well.

Haley Reinhart - "Blue"
That was really good. Not too many people can do those yodel-y parts that well and she did. I think she did it better than LeAnn. But, well, I'm not a big LeAnn fan anyway.

Jacob Lusk - "I Believe I Can Fly"
I called this song from last Tuesday. I did y'all. But he ripped the song apart when he started to over sing it and it was not good. The beginning and the end were great. The middle? Horrid. I wish he would realize that he doesn't have to over sing to make something great.

Thia Megia - " Smile"
This was very good. She's ridiculously talented for a 15-year-old. I wish she hadn't done the jazzy bit (as Randy just said) but her voice is incredible.

Stefano Langone - "Lately"
Stefano Langone could be the next Bruno Mars. That's who he sounds like to me. I love his voice. He is so cute. And he's definitely got the girl vote. I was worried when he started the double-time but I liked it in the end.

Karen Rodriguez - "I Could Fall In Love"
I am just not a big fan of Karen. She's too pageant-y for me. I think there are better singers on the show than her. I'm just glad she stuck to the American language tonight.

Scotty McCreery - "The River"
I think Scotty is precious and saw him get comfortable on the stage for the first time tonight. I'll be interested to see how far he goes. He's going to grow up on that stage.

Naima Adedapo - "Umbrella"
She was pitchy, very pitchy. I think she was trying to push it too hard. I think my favorite part was where she rapped actually. Ha. It was a performance, indeed, but I don't think it was a very good performance. But the judges have a lovefest with her so we'll see.

Best of the night: Pia and Casey
Worst of the night: Karen and Naima
Probably going home: Karen


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

American Idol: Top 12 Girls

1. Ta-tynisa Wilson - "Only Girl In The World"
Y'all, the music is just a tad LOUD, don'tcha think? Her notes weren't really hitting for me and it took a little while for her to show some originality. She did towards the end. It was a good way to open the show. She definitely played to the crowd but I think maybe that was the best part of it.

2. Naima Adedapo - "Summertime"
This a bold choice of song considering that this song basically belongs to Fantasia in the realm of American Idol. I liked the arrangement she used and it sounded good. There were a few spots that she didn't hit just right and then there was the one time she turned her back to the audience to walk back up the steps and I heard my mom circa 1999 in musical practice yelling,"NEVER TURN YOUR BACK TO THE AUDIENCE! NEVER!" Anyhoo, I do like her sound. It was a little "lounge-acty" as Randy said, but I totally think that's her vibe. I haven't been a big fan of Naima but she might just be growing on me.

3. Kendra Chantelle - "Impossible"
Y'all, that white girl just pulled off some Christina Aguilera. I think Randy and I are using the same brain tonight because I definitely just said she has a little Lauryn Hill sound. Kendra is good. Is she the American Idol? I don't think so but I see her staying around for a while.

4. Rachel Zevita - "Criminal"
Wow. This is a completely original take on a Fiona Apple song. I'm not sure how it went off. The audience seemed to like it. It was bold. And yes, it was a little show girl-y. I don't know that it really worked for the show.

5. Karen Rodriguez - "Hero"
Pageant. Karen Rodriguez is on the wrong show. Miss America was back in January and Karen, you might have given Miss Arkansas and her dummies a run for their money. Karen Rodriguez can sing. No doubt. However, the whole bilingual thing turned me off a little bit because it's um...AMERICAN Idol. With that said, though, she made it her own. It was one of a kind.

6. Lauren Turner - "Seven Day Fool"
Homegirl can sing. I loved this performance. She turned it around for me. A breath of fresh air, she was.

7. Ashthon Jones - "Love All Over Me"
This girl is a diva. She's got mad confidence. And if Destiny's Child decided to give it another go 'round, this girl would fit right in. She was good, and considering that I've never heard this song, it was as original as you can get in my book. The judges say she's Diana Ross confidence. I believe she could be the lost Knowles sister.

8. Julie Zorrilla - "Breakaway"
I really didn't like this song for her. I think she strayed too far away from the melody for me. I truly think she can sing because she rocked Hollywood week, but this song did not show it off. I think she tried to over do it.

9. Haley Reinhart - "Fallin'"
I love the sound of this girl's voice. She's so soulful. And at the same time, I think she has musical bipolar syndrome. That's when someone seems one way and then they are handed a mic and told to sing and they become this completely different person. Randy and I are not using the same brain anymore. I loved this. I think Randy feels a little pressure to be the hard judge because he knows that neither Steven nor J-Lo are going to say anything remotely negative.

10. Thia Megia - "Out Here On My Own"
Y'all, I couldn't even type during this performance, I was so captivated. From the first note, I was. That was incredibly brave and incredibly good. Pitch-perfect. I have nothing more to say.

11. Lauren Alaina - "Turn On The Radio"
This girl will be a country music star in a year and she will be successful. Why? Because country music fans are some of the most loyal fans in the world. There's nothing more to say than she can sing. It's natural and effortless. For realz. And she's got the "it" factor.

12. Pia Toscano - "I'll Stand By You"
One of the best vocals tonight. I was afraid for her to follow Thia and Lauren but seriously, the bottom of the order ripped back-to-back home runs. Completely deserving of a standing ovation. She worried me at the beginning but busted it at the end.

Best of the night: Thia, Lauren Alaina and Pia
Worst of the night: Rachel

What did you think?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

American Idol: Top 12 Guys

It's back. The new season of American Idol, so it can only mean that I must indulge myself as a Couch Potato Judge.

I'm channeling my inner J-Lo. (Ahem, a girl can dream right?)

Tonight was the first live show, with the top 12 guys performing. Here are my thoughts.

1. Clint Jun Gamboa - "Superstitious"
I've got to say that when Ryan Seacrest was saying this kid's entire name I thought he was saying Clint "June" Gamboa. I was perplexed as to why a guy would have the nickname "June", and then I tried to hold back any judgement until further review. Then I saw the name graphic on the show tonight. I stand corrected.

I still don't get the glasses though.

Now about the performance, I believe the term "karaoke" is appropriate here. Steven Tyler just used the term "brilliant" and I suddenly find myself missing Simon Cowell.

2. Jovany Baretto - "I'll Be"
First, I've got to admit that this guy isn't horrible to look at. I think what makes me like him is the fact that he is just so unassuming. He doesn't look like a singer, and the minute he opens his mouth, you're like "Whaaaa?" His voice is like butta.

Randy does have point that there wasn't anything unique brought to it but it still was good enough for me. It wasn't any more karaoke than Clint's performance.

3. Jordan Dorsey - "OMG"
This guy is too cocky for his own good. You can't come out of the gate with an URSHER song! What is this? It doesn't even sound good. Jordan Dorsey, we are done here. Also, if Usher is not the type of artist you want to be, then why did you chose that song to sing?

(Has anyone noticed that J-Lo has got the palms-only Paula clap down?)

4. Tim Halperin - "Come On Over"
I've gotta say that I didn't notice Tim until the duet he did with the other girl and the piano during Hollywood week. But when I noticed him, I NOTICED him. Kid's got soul.

With that said, this wasn't his best performance. I'm sure nerves played a big part in it and he probably pushed it a little bit. And also, his stage presence could use a boost. I still think he could do great things on this show.

He's got a winning smile though.

5. Brett Loewenstern - "Come On Baby Light My Fire"
I still don't understand how that voice comes out of that body. This is the first performance of the night that showed some originality, which kind of hurts me to say because I've not been a big fan of his. But I was just thinking, it's going to be long night if the first three performances are any indication of how this night will go. Brett picked it up. He was definitely a "little pitchy", as Randy would say, but it got better.

6. James Durbin - "You've Got Another Thing Comin'"
I just guessed on the title of the song because I'd never heard it before and well, he said that phrase a lot. This guy reminds me to much of Adam Lambert which is sadly a strike and a half against him. He's definitely a performer and you can tell that he knows what kind of artist he is and wants to be. And also he sings from deep down and I do like his story. It'll be interesting to see how far he goes in the competition. It was definitely the best performance so far.

7. Robbie Rosen - "Arms Of An Angel"
I love this kid, first because he reminds me of one of my student workers who is just precious, but second because the kid can just sing. I did feel like he never got with the music but his voice just can't be denied. He definitely put his originality in it, and I hope he goes far because his talent is one in a million.

8. Scotty McCreery - "Letter From Home"
I guessed on the title again because well, I think I've made it clear that I'm not a huge country fan. With that said though, I've loved this kid from his first audition. The guy can sing. No doubt. He's got amazing stage presence too and he knows exactly who he is and is proud of it.

9. Stepfano Langone - "Just The Way You Are"
This was the perfect song for him to sing and that shows that he knows exactly what kind of artist he wants to be. He could be a great R&B artist. He's still got some growing to do as evidenced by the high note he tried at the end. But I love this kid. And he's definitely got the girl vote. I hope he stays around for a while because I think it would be fun to see how much better he gets.

10. Paul McDonald - "Wake Up Maggie"
Perfect song for him. Some people may not like his style but this style is the exact thing that is trending right now. I love what he brings to the competition. He's so sincere. He's not trying to put on a show or be something he's not. He's doing him and that's great. That smile is perfect too. (Can I find out how he gets his teeth so white?) I hope he's around for a long time.

11. Jacob Lusk - "A House Is Not A Home"
If Diana Ross died and came back as a man, it would be Jacob Lusk. He's got great stage presence and he can definitely sing. He's got a bold voice. He's going to stay around for a while for the sheer fact that the kid can wail. However, I don't know how long it will take before the audience starts to get annoyed with him. He may be a one-trick pony. I hope not. But we will see. He's good. His notes are en pointe.

12. Casey Abrams - "I Put A Spell On You"
Y'all, this kid emanates soul and talent. He surprises me every week. Last week, never would I have thought he would pull out "Why Don't You Do Right". This week, he's sans instrument and completely rocks "I Put A Spell On You". This guy is the REAL DEAL.

(And I'm so glad to see that he cleans up well. I was starting to wonder.)

So, my faves are Casey and Stefano. Not-so-faves are Clint and Jordan.

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I'm A Belieber

Hello. My name is Katie, I'm 27 years old, and I am officially a Justin Bieber fan.

A few months I ago, I knew nothing more of Justin Bieber than the fact that he was the newest teeny bopper out there and that he was the new protege of Usher Raymond.
I'd heard his songs, hummed along in my car, but never really thought twice about it.

Then the kid's career BLEW UP.

A couple of years ago, this kid was singing covers on YouTube. Now, he's selling out Madison Square Garden. And not just that, he did it quicker than anyone probably ever has. He set his sights on performing at MSG a year ago and just a few months ago, he did it. In 22 minutes.

How do I know all of this? I saw the movie yesterday. In 3-D. (Who knew my first 3-D movie would feature the Biebs?)

Now I'm not like one of those preteen fans crying at the mere sight of the kid, but after seeing this film, I have mad respect for the guy. This kid is ultra-talented. No, seriously. He was given a drum when he was three and just started banging on it with impeccable rhythm. Impeccable. He sings, he dances, he plays four instruments (maybe more). The guy is good at everything he does - basketball, yo-yo, music.

He's got GOD-given talent and he knows Who gave it to him.

His work ethic is something I wish every 15-year old could have. If that were the case, this world would be unrecognizable.

But not only that, he's genuine. He's humble. He's just a kid doing what he was born to do. Sitting there watching that movie last night, the passion that Justin Bieber has for what he's doing and who he is doing it for, radiated from the screen.

When you are born to do something, no one can stop you from doing it. It's all you want to do and you're not happy if you aren't do it.

Justin Beiber embodies that very sentence.

Call me a bandwagon fan. I don't care. All board. I'm taking that wagon straight to Happy Town.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Today calls for a repost of a video from three years ago. His body is like Disneyland and he'll make barbeque when you want him to. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you....Dave Barnes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String

I was just about to start a post of funny/random web gems and use it as an excuse for a blog post because I've been struggling with some emotions and some thoughts and some things for the past couple of days and I wasn't really sure how to formulate meaningful sentences with all the words that are tumbling around in my head right now.

(And I thought the Apostle Paul was good at run-on sentences. Look at me.)

But then I just started writing and I couldn't stop. My cup overfloweth right now.

Yesterday was a pretty tough day for me. It was tough from the moment I stepped into my office until the minute I left at the end of the day. And it was tough for a number of reasons.

Work stress just kept beating me over the head, I felt horrible and to top it off my past came back to haunt me and you know that's never good.

Over the last year, I've watched someone from my past get everything I ever wanted and it has just gotten under my skin. I don't know why I let it get under my skin because truly that part of my life is over and done with, and has been for a while, but I guess when someone is that big a part of your life, and then it ends abruptly, and not very cordially, things tend to ruffle your feathers.

What I'd been forgetting, though, was that what I see that person getting, is not the life that God has planned out for me. At least not yet. And that if I was getting that life, then I would be miserable because I would be completely outside of God's will.

Then I think about all the great things God has given me since that part of my life has ended. And y'all it's a proverbial bucket-full of some incredible goodness. Amazing friends at work and at church. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that I wouldn't have had if I had been tied down to this or that. And most importantly, my growth and maturity in my relationship with Jesus Christ due to some powerful teaching and understanding of God's word. I've learned more about the character of God, His grace and his sovereignty in the last five years than I could have even imagined I could in a lifetime. I hate to think what I would've missed out on if God had not brought me to this town and these people.

Funny story: I got in my car to go to work this morning and thought I'd kick it with some old school John Mayer. So I opened a CD case and pulled out a mixed CD of JM's early tunes and when I put that sucker into the CD player, the first song that played was not John Mayer. It was Julie Andrews singing, "My Favorite Things". I literally laughed out loud. I reached to skip to the next song and caught myself. I stopped and pulled my hand away from the button. Nothing like some Sound of Music to get you going in the morning.

But what's really funny is it got me thinking. Ol' Jules is singing about how she thinks of her favorite things when she's sad or scared or frustrated. And it makes her feel better. I have certain songs or artists that I listen to that make me feel better when I'm down or scared. But I never thought about how thinking about my favorite things could completely change my viewpoint.

So I started thinking. Family. Old friends. New friends. Sweet memories. What God has done in my life. Those are my favorite things. That is what I should be dwelling on. Not the bad, icky stuff that happened in my past that satan tries to throw in my face to steal my joy. I should think about all the good stuff the Lord has given me, the intangible stuff, the non-material stuff. The eternity stuff.

And then I won't feel so bad.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Praying For...

I'm sure you've noticed the blog makeover. I hope one day I'll be able to afford a complete makeover that makes it cute and me, but for now it's just this.

I've also added a "Praying For" section over to the side bar because I've been very convicted of my prayer life lately. It's not a secret here on this blog that my faith is the most important thing to me. However, my prayer life has left much to be desired recently, and that's not a good thing when prayer (my main communication with God) becomes less than a priority.

So, I've created this section as a reminder for me (and you) of what I should be dwelling on each day. Not money, not being tired, not how much I want to not be working. But I should be thnking about those around me and in this world who need me to be storming God's throne on their behalf.

So, I've started a running list and I'm going to keep those requests on the list until they are answered. If you have something or someone you'd like me to add to the list, please leave me a comment.

God has called us to come to him on each other's behalf (Acts 2:42), so why wouldn't we be adamany about that?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This Makes Me Happy

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors have to be my new favorite music group. I've got to say, I had really never heard of them until the Dave Barnes Christmas Tour, and from the moment Ellie Holcomb (she reminds me of Brooke White) opened her mouth to sing, I knew they would be on heavy rotation on my iPod. These two are mega talented and their music is so good. Here's the music video for their new single, "Fire and Dynamite". Their new record comes out next week, and I can. not. wait.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I Give Up. These Are Dumb.

I'm pretty sure this is going to be my last one of these. The questions just get dumber and dumber.

1201. Have you ever owned a record?
As in a world record? No. As in a vinyl record? I can't say I ever OWNED a record, considering it wasn't purchased by me but when I was little, I wore out the Jungle Book soundtrack vinyl record. Yes I did. Bear Necessities, folks.

1202. In some states people want to make it a requirement that creationism (god made the world) be taught alongside evolution in high school sciences classes. What do you think of this?
It's never really affected me. I don't believe in evolution as a whole as in we came from monkeys, but I do believe in evolution within a species. It's a fact of nature. I don't really have an opinion as far as public school goes but if it is a private school founded on Christian principles, then I don't think you should have a choice.

1203. Should evolution also be taught in religious establishments like church or temple?
No. Evolution is not a biblical principle so there should be no discussion about it.

1204. Can a person believe in creationism and in evolution at the same time?
Not both as a whole. Like I said, evolution with a species is a scientific fact. The planets did not appear after a big bang and we did not evolve from monkeys.

1205. You obviously like surveys since you are filling out a 5,000 question one. Do any of the following surveys sound interesting:
The Doors/Jim Morrison Survey: no
The David Bowie Survey: no
The Beatles Survey: no
The Rocky Horror Survey: no
The Labyrinth Survey: no
The SLC Punk Survey: no
The birthday survey: no
So this is love, the survey: no
The heartache/break up survey: no
Creationism vs. Evolutionism Survey: no
Opinion Survey: no
World Trade Center Survey: no
Halloween Survey: no
Survey of Sin: no
How evil are you? Survey: no
The Roaring 20's Survey: no

Well, once, long ago, I created all those surveys. Now they are floating around in people’s diaries because the diary I had them in (Simply Surveys) was deleted due to disuse.
Well, good for you. Or sad for you. Whatever.

1206. Who did you get this survey from?
My good friend the internet.

Say one nice thing about the person you got this survey from:
It helps me in the hard times.

1207. Here is a list of priorities...
Close friends
Being true to yourself/self respect
Aesthetics (beauty in the world)
Leading an exciting life
Making a contribution to humanity
Being rich
Being famous
Having power
World peace
Accepting and understanding others
Finding yourself

What are your top three priorities from this list?
Spirituality/religion, making a contribution to humanity, family (not necessarily in that order)

1208. Out of that same list what are your BOTTOM 3 priorities?
Having power, being famous, being rich

1209. How many hours of TV do you watch in an average day?
Not counting the fact that the TV in my office is on all day, I'd say about 4 or 5.

1210. Do you want to have a car, a house and 2.5 kids?
I have a car. A house would be great. And I'd go for two or three kids. Half a kid might get a little messy.

1211. What song, CD, or band is a 'guilty pleasure' for you (meaning you know it sucks but you like it anyway)?
NKOTB. No question.

1212. If you were going to vote for a candidate for president and then you found out that the person you were going to vote for is HIV positive would that effect your vote and why?

1213. Have you ever had an HIV test?

1214. What time do you:
Get up in the morning: between 7 and 8. Depending on the day. Weekends are different.
Eat lunch: 12ish
Do something active during the day: depends
Go to bed: between 10:30 and 12:30, again it just depends.

1215. Have you ever ridden a motorcycle?
Yes. My dad's.

1216. When you hear the word ‘biker’ what kind of person do you think of?
Paul Tuttle Sr.

1217. Did your parents ever talk to you about sex?

1218. If your pet dies, you can now have it cloned for $50,000. How do you feel about this?
That's just weird.

1219. Are you or would you be embarrassed about buying condoms?
I would be.

1220. Do any of your clocks make an odd noise or play a song when the hour strikes?

1221. What are the things that make you go 'Hmmmm....' (remember that song?)?
I don't know.

1222. Are you a sinner?
Yes, but I've been saved by grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

1223. Are you naughty or nice?

1224. Is belly-dancing sexy?
I don't think so.

1225. What celebrity would you love to be able to dance with?
Channing Tatum, oh and Maksim from Dancing With The Stars

1226. What is your favorite comic book movie?
Spiderman I guess.

1227. What movie would you recomend for couples to watch on Valentine's day?
I don't know.

1228. Besides when you were little, how many people have seen you completely naked and who?
I don't think anyone has.

1229. Is sex something that should be treated casually?
Absolutely not.

1230. Have you ever participate in an orgy?
Um, ew.

If no, would you ever consider it?

1231. What song is in your head right now?
That Wendy's commercial, "My, my, my 99"

1232. What was the best day of your life like?
I've had a few of those so I don't really know.

1233. What are you all about?
A lot of stuff

1234. You have won a contest where you get all these great prizes but you can only keep one for yourself and must give the others away to friends, family or whoever. Which one do you keep and who do you give the rest to:
A $5,000 gift certificate to radio shack: My brother-in-law
A brand new yellow jeep: I'll keep
An all expense paid vacation for 2 to Italy: Mom and Dad
Lunch with N'Sync: Austin Lee
A lifetime supply of herbal essences shampoo: Lauren
A $1,000 check: Hollie
A palm pilot: They still make these?
An autographed picture of Shakira: who would want this?
Breakfast with kid rock: Or this?
A shirt once worn by Jonathan Davis: Who is this?
One round of mini-golf with Sharon Osbourne: Dane
A phone call from Robert Smith: Who is this?
A brand new washer/dryer: Casey
Free medical insurance for 1 year: Julie

1235. Who do you think you might have known in a past life?
This is a dumb question.

1236. Do you take vitamins?

1237. Do you prefer fake or real flowers around the house?

1238. Sometimes roses are pink, yellow, white or red. If you give someone a rose, does its color change the meaning behind it as a gift?
Not for me.

1239. What's the most deadly thing you can think of?

1240. To-MAY-toes or to-MA-toes?

1241. Out of all your friends, family and the people you know who is the most:
Intelligent: These
Happy: Are
Miserable: Dumb
Easily influenced: Questions
Cranky: Will
Bitchy: Not
Evil: Answer
Nice: Them

1242. What's the best live musical performance you ever saw?
Band? Toss up between Third Day/Toby Mac and Dave Matthews Band
Broadway? Wicked

1243. Have you ever had a 'pregnancy scare'?

1244. Kelly Osbourne or Madonna's version of “Pappa Don't Preach”?
Kelly Osbourne

1245. Can you change a tire?

1246. Have you ever put your fist through a wall?

1247. When do you feel the most relaxed and able to be yourself?
Around my family.

1248. Do you have a place that is your own where you won't show anyone else?

1249. Are you a part of any teams or clubs?

Not these days.

1250. Is cheerleading a sport?

Absolutely, yes.

1251. Do you believe that people should be able to choose death for themselves if they want to end their lives?
Sure, but they shouldn't ask someone to help them end their lives.

1252. Is there anything you morally object to?
Homosexuality, drugs, casual sex. The usual.

1253. What would you never do for money?
Pose naked. Kill. Take drugs. The usual.

1254. Applebees, the Outback, or TGI Friday's?

1255. Which do you drink the most: juice, soda, milk, or water?
Soda. Should be water.

1256. What sport do you like to watch the most?
Reality TV. Mostly, Survivor, The Amazing Race, Big Brother type shows.

1257. What sport do you like to play the most?
I don't "olay" sports. I'm not really good at it considering I was cut from the 7th grade basketball team because I couldn't make a layup. The easiest thing to do in basketball. So, clearly, I'm better at watching. However, I love to throw a football around and if someone is willing to bear with me, I think I may a pretty good wide receiver.

1256. Do you write poetry?

Not really. I can rhyme though.

1257. Are you aggressive?
Not usually. I'm more aggressive when I'm after something I really want but usually I'm pretty passive.

1258. Have you ever fallen from grace?
All the time.

1259. Does it bother you when a band you like gets really popular?
No. I think it's great.

1260. Has anyone ever won you a stuffed animal? If yes, did you name it after the person who won it for you?
I won something resembling a stuff animal at the fair one year. It was basically the shape of a bear sewn together with cotton inside of it. And it sucked. I immediately wanted my money back and no, I did not name it after myself.

1261. Can you go one week without cursing at all?

1262. What's the best candy?
Harbo Gummi Bears. Hands down.

1263. Can you lick your own nose?
Don't think so.

1264. What song would you like to hear spontaneously in a public place (like a store)?
No preferences.

1265. Do you ever make others feel unwanted?
I think I have.

1266. Do you think you have ever made others feel unwanted without realizing you were doing it?
I never make someone feel unwanted intentionally.

1267. Are you very sensitive to what other people are feeling and how they will react to certain things?

1268. Have you ever climbed a tree?

1269. Do you feel somehow different when the moon is full?
Not that I know of.

1270. Who do you know that talks a lot but never really says anything?
Ha. I work with a few of those.

1271. Is world peace possible?
Not until Jesus comes back.

1272. Who do you know that is making a huge life mistake yet you can't stop them? What’s the mistake?
I don't know of anyone right now.

1273. Do you plan to own a home or rent an apartment for most of your life?
Own a home

1274. Would you enjoy going to a strip bar to see strippers (of whatever sex you find appealing)? Absolutely not. Full-on nakedness makes me uncomfortable.

1275. Would you ever consider stripping in a sexual way for money?

1276. Would you ever consider being a nude model for an artistic life drawing class for money?

1277. What are 2 goals that you have?
1) To read the Harry Potter series before the end of this year.
2) Find a job that allows me time to make an impact on the people around me in the way I know I can.

1278. What are 2 negative traits that you have?
1) Procrastination
2) Tardiness

1279. Will these negative traits stop you from achieving your goals?
They could.

1280. Everyone knows that you are nice, fun, creative, and good but what are 4 other positive traits that you have?
1) Encouraging
2) Good listener
3) Thoughtful
4) Smart

1281. How often do you daydream about your wedding day?
These days? Probably a little too much considering I don't have any prospects.

1282. If you were hiring someone for a job but could only ask him or her 3 questions in the interview what would you ask?
1. What would you change about yourself?
2. What would you change about this company?
3. How do you plan to impact the world around you?

1283. If you were interviewing someone for the position of your new friend but could only ask 3 questions, what would they be?
Probably the same questions from above but instead of company in number two, insert me.

1285. Wholesome - Conducive to sound health or well being; salutary: simple, examples: wholesome food; a wholesome climate, Promoting mental, moral, or social health: example: wholesome entertainment.

Do you enjoy wholesome activities (sports, cooking, beach, family time, zoo, museums, etc.)? If yes what wholesome activity do you enjoy the most?
Yes, I love sports, the beach and family time most of all.
Are you a wholesome person?

1286. When was your first kiss and what was it like?
My first kiss was in 10th grade with the kicker of the football team. It was in the upstairs family room of our old house. And it was horrible.

1287. Are you quiet and shy?
I can be.

1288. Are you bitchy, cranky, whiny, miserable, depressed, needy, mean, flakey, shallow, obnoxious, inconsiderate, nervous, and/or stuck up?
I'm sure all of the above at some point or another.

1289. Do you come off any of these ways even if you aren't really like that?
See 1288.

1290. Are you loud and unfriendly?
Loud, yes. Unfriendly, not usually.

1291. Can a positive attitude/good personality make up for someone being less than beautiful?

1292. Can being totally beautiful and hot make up for a negative attitude/bad personality?

1293.What are you seeking?

1294. Could you see yourself as a future nun/monk?

1295. Would you rather have a baby or get a pet?
Right now? Get a pet.

1296. What mistake do you repeat over and over?
Lots of them.

1297. What do you think of the restaurant Hooters?
I hate it. And the food is bad.

1298. What are 5 traits that make someone ugly?
Smoking, bad attitude, negativity, continuous cursing and over-confidence

1299. Do you hate when people tell you to smile?

1300. Do you like the writing of Douglas Adams?
Never heard of him.