American Idol: And I Said “Yeah!…Shorty Got Down On Uh..Something..”

This week’s guest judge? Usher. Hold on, let me dust off my tight black pants and sparkly tanks…there. Ok, I’m ready for da club. (sidenote: Usher and I share a special connection, mainly that he released an album on my birthday in 2001. I know this because he was kind enough to title it “8701”).

Just like Mike Lynche, Usher is ready to love.
Just like Mike Lynche, Usher is ready to love.

Without further ado, I give you Soul Week on American Idol.

Siobahn Magnus: Some song by Aretha Franklin. Ok, if they think that was good, then it’s rigged. That was awful and the screaming is getting  really old. And the lips, god the lips….on the dress. Creepy! She does have really good makeup, though, and would be quite a little pretty one if she ditched the giant glasses.

Casey James: Some song by someone I don’t even know. (I know, best blog EVER!). I’m slightly distracted by the fact I read in US Weekly that he had 3 DWIs in 2 years, which takes the luster off my personal fave. I mean, if you get 3 DWIs in 2 years, you must be driving drunk A LOT. He kind of reminds me of a more attractive, less spastic, guitar-playing Taylor Hicks. Let’s hope he doesn’t have the same fate, or he’ll soon be playing at car dealership openings.  This was a good performance, but I still miss the crooning acoustic “Heaven”-esque performances. But that’s because I’m a girl.

Mike Lynch: “Ready for Love” by India Arie. Ok, so it appears Usher will be wearing his sunglasses through all the one-on-ones. Perhaps scared he’s going to be recognized [which, we we’ll soon see, is valid]. Sidenote, I quite like how the guy who plays the piano during all the practices just sits by and smirks. Ooh! First sit down acoustic song of the year. Or, in the words of Bill, “he’s Bon Jovi-ing it.” My life is complete, Bon Jovi has become a verb.

Didi Benami: “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” by Someone. Apparently Didi is going to cry when she meets Usher, which frankly, I didn’t see coming. Yep, she’s crying. Ok, this is awkward. WOW. Super awkward. Notice he’s not going for a hug, like most people do when there’s someone crying in front of them. At least she looks super good in her sparkly dress, although it’s a bit formal for AI. And her earrings are giving a big shout-out to “1984”. Is it my imagination or do the judges just recycle the same critiques over and OVER? Kara has said “I don’t know who you are anymore…” at least 6 times this season. Ok, well, Ryan clearly has not heard the phrase “just let it go.” He’s trying to make Didi explain why she started crying with Usher. It’s like me, wriggling away from Bill when he’s trying to tickle me. Lots of screaming. Lots of crying. Lots of resistance.

Tim Urban: “Sweet Love” by Anita Baker. Well let’s see. He dyed his hair. He’s also clearly borrowed his suit from Ryan’s closet. This sounds like shit in practice. I imagine it sounding like shit when he starts in 30 seconds. He needs to go home anyway so I’m sort of pro him pronging it in. Plus, the stairs didn’t bode well for Paige Miles, which he CLEARLY didn’t take a hint from. He sounds like shit, all quiet and creepy with his big eyes. And this is probably his best song, which doesn’t say much. To be fair he gets ripped apart each week and you don’t see him crying in the back room.

Andrew Garcia: Good news, Andrew is singing a song by Chris Brown, “Forever,”  like we all just forgot that he (Chris, not Andrew) beat up Rihanna and threw her out of a car. That being said, Usher DID take his glasses off for Andrew, which feels like a big step. Well, this is at least his best performance so far. Yay, FINALLY, FINALLY, my early fave is back! Even with his gf-beating song. Or, as Bill calls it, the Doublemint Song. I’d totally buy that on iTunes, minus my fear that Chris Brown gets royalties from it.

"So then, like, I had just gotten off of Mission: SPACE, and I totally saw you and was like 'is that Usher?' and then I went up and said "are you usher?" and then..."
"So then, like, I had just gotten off of Mission: SPACE, and I totally saw you and was like 'is that Usher?' and then I went up and said "are you usher?" and then..."

Katie Stephens: “Chain of Fools,” Aretha Franklin. So let’s say you’re meeting someone famous. What part of your brain says, “Hey, I’ll open with a creepy stalking story…”? The bad, evil side of your brain that is trying to sabotage you. Well, good news, minus the fact that Usher is going to need a restraining order, this is her BEST performance. True to form she’s still wearing awful clothes (few people can wear a romper and you are not one of them).  And as usual, Kara and Simon are griping about what kind of music they think she should perform, when the reality is, it probably DOESN’T matter since she’s never going to be famous.

Lee Dewyze: “Treat her Like a Lady” by (shocking!) Someone I’ve Never Heard Of Before. Here’s the thing: I really don’t care about this guy for some reason. His frat-boy looks (complete with, if my eyes do not deceive me, a cold sore) turn me off. The weird thing is he has the type of voice I like. Ok, I resolve to just look away and listen. And if I do that, he sounds really good. I even just bopped my head for a few seconds.

Crystal Bowersox: “Midnight Train to Georgia,” Gladys Knight. Ok, that’s it, she’s totally wining this contest. She ditched the guitar and potentially sounds even better on the piano. I mean, who is going to beat her? Ok, but I would have just continued to sit down and sing. Not saying that it got bad, it just got moderately awkward with the standing in stilettos thing. But, loved the version. LOVED! And Simon’s wrong. She needed to mix it up or she was going to get old and repetitive.

Aaron Kelly: “Ain’t No Sunshine,” Bill Withers. Is that a leather hoodie? I think it sounded better in practice, but I will hand it to him, if he has a few back-to-back good weeks, I think he’s a legitimate contender with Crystal and Siobahn. Like, really good, RECORDABLE voice. And Randy is nuts if he thinks that was only OK.

Brilliant Usher insight: “Ok…so this song…means something…to you.”

All this Usher exposure has got me missing college so I’m off to dance in my room!

-The Sessionista

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American Idol: It’s Really Not So Much a Party in the USA

8:00pm: And we’re off…cue super dramatic music and over-produced intro.

8:05pm: I feel like calling the American Idol Tour a “giant opportunity” is taking it a little too far. Has the tour really made anyone?

8:10pm: Introducing the guest mentor….Miley Cyrus. MILEY! MILEY! OMG! MILEY! So you’re saying that you have a guest mentor’s whose most famous lyric is, arguably: “Then a Jay-Z song came on. Then a Jay-Z song came on. Then a Jay-Z song came ONNNNNN.” And p.s., you’re all getting mentored by someone who can’t legally vote in America, just in case you hadn’t done that math.

I hope my mentor looks this scholarly and smart and mentorish.
I hope my mentor looks this scholarly and smart and mentorish.

8:11pm: By the looks of things, with that momentous Miley reveal, Aaron Kelly may have just become a man.

8:15pm: And here they are, in order.

Lee Dewyze: Frat Boy is singing “The Letter” or some such song that I don’t recognize by name. Is it me or does he always look stoned? And today he looks like he’s going to start crying. Or he’s used too much Visine. God, this arrangement is awful and loungy.  Here’s the deal, Lee. You have a good voice but you’re never going to be famous. The Sessionista has watched enough of this show to know what it takes to be successful. Judges think: It was the poop, minus Simon, who as usual, is accurate.  Sessionista thinks: Forgettable. I mean, “You’ve raised the bar…on yourself”? Not really wicked good words of praise.

Paige Miles: I feel like poor Paige is destined to go home tomorrow, regardless. Her choice? “Against All Odds,” which, unless she kills it, is going to suck. The song is so dated and so…Phil Collins. Ooh. She’s sitting. Take her seriously. Nope. This isn’t going well. Oh dear. Miley should have said “DO NOT SING THIS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.” A real mentor would have. And it sounds like someone is hitting a wine glass with a fork or something in the background. Judges: Terrible.  Sessionista: Take a look at Paige going home.

Tim Urban: I see they’ve front loaded the show with people I don’t like. Hmm, this sounds like it’s going to suck, too. God, I love it when they say they’re going to “loosen up.” Yep. He’s gently bending his knees. Ripped the mic out of the stand. TOUCHED A GIRL IN THE AUDIENCE! Ok, ok, all sarcasm aside, he did just do a really awkward slide across the floor, which would definitely fall under “loosening up.” This is super painful to watch. He’s a poor man’s Zac Efron, which is NOT a place you ever want to be. Judges: “The vocals were boring” Love that Kara says he can’t touch people in the audience because he hasn’t sold records. Trust me, there are 16 year old girls out there that are refusing to wash their hands after that performance. Doesn’t she remember Crying Girl? Sessionista: I know the girls love you for some reason, but just take a bow and move on.

Aaron Kelly: I like Aaron. Seriously. And I hate liking the 16 year olds. Oh good, he’s confirmed he’s in love with Miley. I love that Miley is one year older and like, a gargantuan compared to him. She completely engulfs him- he’s like a miniature kd lang. Fun! He’s singing one of my least favorite songs, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” And yet someone sings it every effing year. Note that Miley kept her entire lower half away from Aaron when they hugged. Smart girl. Well, that performance was…mediocore. And I don’t think you can blame the laryngitis. And now it sounds like someone’s tuning a piano in the background. What is going on tonight? Judges: Decent. Sessionista: You know how I feel about this song so I’m not even saying anything more.

Crystal Bowersox: 10 to 1 Crystal doesn’t hug Miley at the end of her session. Wow. Ok, no hug, but she had her sign her guitar which- does that, like…outrank hugging? Good start- I like Crystal and I like “Me and My Bobby McGee.” She kind of reminds me of 4 Non Blondes. Except it’s 1-Blonde. I can’t figure out if she’d sell albums, that’s my only thing with her. Maybe country-folk? Clearly they’ve been bathing her teeth 24 hours a day in teeth whitener because her teeth used to be the color of coffee. Judges: Love fest. Sessionista: I love her voice and appreciate the not your normal AI contestant thing she has going on.

Mike Lynche: Well, let’s see he smothered Miley to start (good). “When a Man Loves a Woman” is obviously a great song but you have to be fab at it, though, for people to not criticize you. Starting out good. Eeee. That note, not so good. Hmph. Sounds kind of sharp. not sure what that means, precisely, but it makes my ears not feel great, in parts. And why did he mess with the original arrangement, which is LOVELY, in favor of this shitty one? Judges: “Not your best but loved it” which makes loads of sense. Sessionista: Ok. Fine. Not my favorite at all.

Andrew Garcia: Good news, he can remember the lyrics to “Straight Up” but not “Heard it Through the Grapevine. ” I don’t get this guy. He was good in his first audition. He was good in Hollywood. He was a lock to get in the Top 24. And ever since, he has sucked. I mean, Bill and I talked about pizza through his entire performance. Judges: Sucks. If I never hear the words “Straight Up” again it would be too soon. Sessionista: Sucks. And this is someone I loved prior to the show going to the Top 24.

Katie Stevens: This year’s show, for all its early promise, is now just a giant vat of underperformers. She’s singing “Big Girls Don’t Cry” which right as I’m typing “good song” Bill’s saying “god, this is an awful song.” Our marriage will go far, i’m sure, minus this little disagreement. Pretty effing hideous high waisted jeans, but it’s a lot better than the Patsy Cline getup she had on last week. Judges: “Meeting Miley Cyrus is the best thing that ever happened to you.” Let’s hope something better happens to you later in life, I don’t think I’d want that to be my high point. Sessionista: Far better than her previous attempts!

Casey James: I am quite the Casey fan. Mostly because of his performance of “Heaven,” like 4 weeks ago. I’m looking forward to something of that vein. All soulful and intense and sweet sounding.  Instead I get “Power of Love” by Huey Lewis, which would have been great if it was 1987. Bill: “That’s a powerful combo: Looks like Nickelback. Sings like Huey Lewis” When he’s onstage he kind of reminds me of Daniel Johns from Silverchair too, minus the drugs, anorexia and Australian accent. Judges: Why are you singing Huey Lewis? Sessionista: I seriously sometimes think Simon is the only one listening.

DeeDee Bimini. Or Didi Benami. That’s how well I know these people: HA! Even Ryan screwed up her name. Oh Didi, you’re sort of a Brandi Carlyle, which makes me think this show isn’t for you. You will be around until 6 weeks out then probably disappear, and not because you’re bad, but because, like me and Ryan, people can’t even remember your last name. Judges: “I love the idea of it.” Sessionista: Everything is lame tonight, including this song. And someone stole one of her dress sleeves.

Siobahn Magnus: I feel like I should do a jig every time I say her name. Does it get anymore Irish? First off, I wasn’t a huge Siobahn fan. The judges are IN LOVE with her, and yet I don’t think she’d sell albums. She’s this year’s Adam Lambert. Also, I wish someone would make her talk faster.  And Jesus, those jeans she wore in her Miley meet-n-greet…. those jeans deserve to die a slow, painful death.  Bill (he’s far more on tonight and should be writing this damn blog): “I’m waiting for her to ‘neighhhh’. She’s prancing around like a horse.” Oh god, there’s scatting. And screaming. We get it. You can scream. I mean, seriously, we get it. Without you doing it over and over and over in every performance. It gets annoying. Like your giant glasses that don’t do shit for your vision. Judges: Love fest, continued. Sessionista: No one had the balls to call her out on the screaming. Come on!

I’m going to leave you with this gem:

“People take me seriously … because I take myself seriously. ” -Miley Cyrus

Until next time,

The Sessionista

Oscars, Abbreviated.

Some notes from the Academy Awards (way too lazy to do a full live blog).

6:33pm: OMG what is Carrie Mulligan wearing? She’s presenting with Zoe Saldana (Bill: “Is that Rihanna?”), which means two mullet dresses at once, neither which are good, although I’ll take Saldana’s purple confection over Mulligan’s hideous black dress/shoe combo which makes her (I’m sure otherwise normal) ankles and calves look huge.

6:37pm: The short film winner is funny. He’s French. So I’m laughing. Because the accent makes it funnier.

6:39pm: Whoa. This guy is accepting an award and then <BAM>… Purple jacket bomb. Who is this woman, grabbing this guy’s spotlight? I hope she’s related to the movie, since I can’t understand a thing she’s saying and he looks annoyed. HOLY PURPLE JACKET. I have never seen something quite like that, especially on someone who is attending the Oscars.

6:43pm: “The show seemed a little Hitler-heavy”… LOVE Ben Stiller.

6:50pm: Rachael McAdams would be better served by her beautiful dress if she stopped pulling it up. Over and over. Hmm. Jake and Rachael…that would be kind of cute. Although I’m still quite torn up about Jake and Reese, refusing to believe it’s over. Hello, perfect! I need SOMEBODY to make up for the travesty that is Brad and Angelina.

6:55pm: I’d like Queen Latifah’s dress if it wasn’t wrinkly. I mean, it’s wrinkly. I can’t just let that go. And why am I not cooking dinner right now? We’re in that stretch of crappy awards that I don’t give a shit about. Oh wait. I’m on Tivo. I can fast forward.

6:57pm: YAY! Best Actress. I hope Sandra wins. LOVE her dress. LOVE LOVE LOVE her dress. And hair. And overall cuteness. Good news, I haven’t seen like…any of these movies. Almost went and saw Crazy Heart last night but instead picked that heavy-hitter, Valentine’s Day. Oh. Oops. This is Supporting Actress. My bad. Yay Monique! I mean, from the 5 second clips, your performance looked the best. But that sprig of flowers in your hair…just say no to the foliage next time. At least she’s wearing a long dress to hide those hairy legs that she doesn’t shave. Yowsers.

7:11pm: Why do costume designers always wear the ugliest clothes. WHY? It’s an affront. A tragedy. A real pisser.

7:12pm: GOD, Charlize, watch out! Two giant fabric roses are eating your boobs.

7:18pm: OMG Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner! OMG! AWESOME! OMG! I LOVE TWILIGHT! Oh and thanks for playing music over their stilted dialog, Academy producers.

7:25pm: I sort of zoned out for a sec but WOAH there’s a crazy looking dude accepting an award. Sort of an albino James Cameron with longer, white blond hair. And an Northern European accent. Is there an award for Best Villain that I’m unaware of? Oh look! He’s back. Again. I’m confused.

7:28pm: Here’s Elizabeth Banks, belittling the sci-tech awards. Hater. Wow, seriously, that was a one-second retrospective. Really, can’t even give them 30 seconds? Eventhough they’ve made your movie what it is? No? OK.

8:43pm: (took a dinner break): Demi Moore ruins a perfect 10 dress with hooker heels. Sigh.

8:47pm: Interpretive dance! Fun! Bill is making me look away when they display the nominees and guess who it is by the song and dance. I am proud to say I got 3.5 of 5, considering the dance generally had nothing to do with the movie.

8:53pm: Gerard Butler and Bradley Cooper look weirdly twin-ish. I’m not complaining. Just pointing it out.  And Avatar wins best Visual Effects. SHOCKING.

8:57pm: What’s up with George Clooney tonight? He just looks pissy and arrogant. Matt Damon is a close runner-up on the lame scale. GOD, PEOPLE, WE CAN’T ALL GO TO THE OSCARS EVERY YEAR.

9:01pm: I’m sort of digging the stauette girl’s outfit.

9:03pm: So you know how I was confused about Miley Cyrus? Et tu,Tyler Perry. What is going on here? Where are all the real actresses and actors?

9:03pm: Ok, WHY do they have to say “based on the novel Push by Sapphire” everytime the say Precious? Sapphire is clearly a savvy, savvy woman to make that part of her movie deal.

9:05pm: Oh god, black satin gloves and a lace dress. Edit that dress, honey. Edit it right out of the show.

9:10pm: Bold prediction from Bill: Das White Ribbon for “Best Foreign Film”. Ooh. Burn. Bill didn’t win. AND the guy that won made an Avatar joke and no one laughed. It’s a tough crowd.

9:12pm: DAMMIT, I just went to twitter and saw who won Best Actor and Actress. I blame Julianne Hough. And myself, for following Julianne Hough on Twitter.

9:14pm: Colin Farrell looks like someone stepped on his kitten. Wow, lucky Jeremy Renner- they had to pull “S.W.A.T.” out of his resume. And an off-the-cuff speech from Colin Farell.

9:20pm: Best actress. Go Sandra go! Man, I LOVE Kate Winslet. Her dress looks a lot better on the stage that it did on the red carpet. Oops. This is Best Actor. Seriously, WTF is wrong with me?

9:22pm: The voiceover lady is a little too high on life. Or booze. Or weed. Or cocaine. As is, apparently, Jeff Bridges.

9:27pm: “Hope Floats” got a shout out, too. Wow, this is every B-movie’s dream Oscars. But on a good note, we’re finally (finally!) to Best Actress, meaning I can’t keep getting it wrong. I’d say “go sandra!” but now that I know the result my heart’s not as into it. Hmm. Creepy Peter Skaarsgard being…creepy. Poor Cary Mulligan. Shit dress. Shit intro.

9:33pm: I have no idea what Sean Penn is talking about. Does anyone?

9:35pm: Love Sandra Bullock!

9:40pm: Ok, I give up on the presenters. Babs doing Best Director? Confused. But like that she has a person that helps her down the stairs then fades into the background.

9:45pm: Finally, Best Picture. I’m going Avatar. WOAH. WOAH. GIANT UPSET. And all the more exciting since Tom Hanks announced it within a nanosecond of getting onstage, meaning no one was prepared.

Phew. And not a minute too soon. Good thing I added 30 minutes to the recording!

The Winners: Sandra Bullock, Siguorny Weaver, Rachael McAdams, the color red, Penelope Cruz, Demi Moore, Tim Robbins (for actually being funny unlike most of the forced laughter), Oprah Winfrey (did she drop 40 pounds overnight????), Gabby Sidibe for getting introduced by what looks to be her idol, given the tears.

The Losers: Cary Mulligan, Miley Cyrus (um, why is she presenting at the Oscars?), the funky lighting that made EVERY woman have frizzy-looking hair (I mean, if SJP’s hair(piece) doesn’t look perfect we know something is wrong), Cameron Diaz’s hair (courtesy of 1997), Sam Worthington (who was playing 2nd fiddle to JLo’s dress), Kathryn Bigelow (who claimed her history-making Best Director statue in a prom dress from 1999)

Polarizing: SJP (works for her, and probably only her), Charlize (UGLY, but some people will like it), JLo’s pink wedge of a dress

Forgettable: Queen Latifah, Kristen Stewart, Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet and by it’s very nature, everyone else I didn’t mention here…

Sessionista Rant #2: Seattle Drivers- They Still Suck

After a particularly shitty drive home again tonight, I thought back to the only thing that makes me feel a little better: Bitching about it on my blog. So, without further ado, three more things that drive me nuts about Seattle drivers:

1. Talking on Cell Phones While Driving: Look, I get that you have a massively important conversation to have, that can’t possibly wait until you get

"Did you hear about how Susan's sister-in-law's best friend Aimee got cheek implants in Peru last week???"
"Oh my god, I just HAD to call you- did you hear about how Susan's sister-in-law's best friend Aimee got cheek implants in Peru?"

home. Clearly we were all at a major loss prior to the invention of the cell  phone. That being said, this does not mean you need to be on your cell phone 24 hours a day. Especially when operating a vehicle. Why? Because as much as YOU think YOU are AWESOME at driving on the phone and aren’t like those other assholes, let me give you a head’s up: You’re just like them. I can tell a driver on a cell phone the minute I’m behind them. How? They’re driving 5-10 mph under the speed limit and braking when there’s no car in front of them. When I drive up next to you, look over and see you vacantly staring straight ahead with the phone pressed to your ear, I want to scream “HANG THE FUCK UP and focus at least one of your brain cells on driving the car.” And for all my Washington State readers- newsflash!- it’s illegal to drive and talk without a headset. Looking around at my fellow drivers, it’s become clear I’m the only one who went out and bought a headset after that law came out (headline: Hands-free Headset Sales Surge by One Unit!).

2. Not being able to pick a speed and stick with it. Clearly everything my fellow roadmates do pisses me off (ask The Sessionista’s Man, who carpools in every morning in the Red Dragon). However, few things annoy me more than the following: Assholes who can’t pick a speed and stick with it. This person differs slightly from Asshole Who Speeds Up When You Try to Pass Him/Her. No, this person is driving relatively normal, at healthy, happy speeds, then will suddenly, inexplicably slow down to 50 mph.  Sometimes it’s difficult to pass this person due to traffic. So you stay behind them, especially when they start speeding up to 60. Then 65. Then 70- wow- we’re flying! Then they apparently lose muscle function in their pedal foot and you find yourself driving 50 again. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING? Who is so out if it they can’t push the pedal down with similar pressure? HOW HARD IS THIS? Do you hold a steady job? Can you count to 10? Then you should be able to push the fucking pedal down in a nice, uniform manner.

TOO CLOSE! TOO CLOSE!
And remember, there's a giant void in front of your car you're not even factoring in.

3. Protective Bubble People. These people actually make me laugh more than rage (I know, shocking!). They’re the people, who, for no sane reason, leave a whole car length between them and the car in front of them at stoplights, stop signs, etc. I will always pull up next to these people and stare into their car, trying to figure out what is going on in there. Are they knitting a sweater? Reading a magazine? No. No, they’re staring straight ahead, at the car in front of them (a distant speck on the horizon). Meanwhile, everyone around them has packed themselves in as tight as Americans are comfortable doing. I don’t get it. This person is clearly expecting a dump truck to hit them from behind at 40 mph even though it’s the middle of rush hour. It’s the only possible explanation I can come up with. I mean, a car length? Sure, I can understand a few feet, especially if you’ve recently been rear-ended. But a WHOLE CAR LENGTH? My evilness makes me want to squeeze my car in to the space just to see if they pop it in reverse to preserve their precious bubble.