We're all nobody until somebody notices us, right? That's probably what Simon Cowell is hoping with the choice of Steve Jones as the co-host of the American version of his reality singing competition, "The X Factor."
Yes, the former model is well-known to British audiences thanks to appearances on a number of popular shows, including the children's variety program "T4," the "Guinness World Records Smashed!" special as well as upcoming series “Drop Zone,” “Wedding Crashers” and “101 Ways to Leave a Gameshow.”
But in America? He's as blank a slate as a guy named Ryan Seacrest was before "American Idol" launched in 2002. It's hard to remember now, but back then Seacrest was just a radio guy in Los Angeles, not the new Dick Clark with an exploding multi-media empire that threatens to swallow all of entertainment.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times ... won't get fooled again. After weeks of plaid-based fashion crimes, self-righteous audience threats, horsey falsetto screeching and more awkward stage moves than an army of Paul McDonalds, Compton, California's Jacob Lusk was finally booted from "American Idol" on Thursday night.
I'm not saying I wanted him gone, but when America finally heard what I've been hearing for weeks (i.e., a singer whose commercial potential makes last year's "Idol" winner Lee DeWyze look like Lady Gaga), well, let's just say I felt vindicated, at the very least.
All but one of our experts correctly predicted Lusk's demise this week and "Idol" blogger MJ Santilli shared my feelings about the news. "I suspect if he had performed the way he really wanted to on 'Idol,' he would have been out weeks ago," she said of his wayyy over-the-top sing-off. "Lusky Stank had his moments on the show, but really, he was never able to top 'A House Is Not a Home' — the semi-final performance that ensured his place in the Top 13. I can see Jacob with a career singing gospel music, but as a pop star? Not so much."
There was a time, like a season or two ago, when "American Idol" judge praised contestants for taking chances and thinking outside the box with quirky arrangements and oddball song choices.
And while they dinged Haley Reinhart pretty hard on Wednesday night for covering the as-yet-unreleased Lady Gaga tune "You and I" on the "Then and Now" performance show (nicely played, Jimmy Iovine -- Born This Way, coming soon!) they really took out their knives when Jacob Lusk attempted to perform a duet, with himself, on former "Idol" champ Jordin Sparks' "No Air."
Was it as terrible as they said? Well, yes. We've been predicting Jacob's demise for weeks … and we've been wrong every time. I've not been shy about saying that I think Lusk has little-to-no commercial prospects as a result of a grating personality and, let's face it, pretty annoying vocal style.
CINCINNATI — I'm not sure what I was expecting. I've seen Neil Young probably a dozen times over the years and I know the rock legend isn't one to toss out emotional statements at his shows ... beyond the ones he makes with his trusty, fuzzed-out black Stratocaster and high and shaky voice, of course. The words and music are more than enough when your catalog includes everything from "Ohio" to "Rockin' in the Free World."
But when he touched down here on Tuesday (May 3) night for his first show since the killing of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden by U.S. Navy SEALs on Sunday, I thought maybe old Neil would need to get some things off his chest. Touring in support of his excellent new solo album, Le Noise, Young silently took the stage in a pair of comfy Levi's, a black T-shirt, a white linen jacket and a beat-up straw fedora. With minimal staging aside from a giant cigar store Indian, a few Tiffany-style lamps over his baby grand and upright pianos and his favorite pump organ, I knew the night would be a minimal affair.
As much as I hoped he'd stray from the set list of chestnuts and new tunes and bust out his Todd Beamer-inspired 9/11 anthem "Let's Roll," or something from his 2006 war protest album Living with War, Young opened gently with a trio of acoustic gems: "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)," "Tell Me Why" and "Helpless."
We were pretty sure Kurt Cobain had rolled over in his grave enough a few weeks ago when just-booted "American Idol" finalist Casey "Wolfman" Abrams performed his tortured, crazy-eyed stare cover of Nirvana's breakthrough hit, "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
Yes, it was awful, hard-to-watch and just kind of offensive to lovers of music. But when we saw footage of Miley Cyrus doing her studded leather and Crest White Strips shimmy to the song during a recent concert and, well, a new bar was set. Cyrus, of course, has more vocal chops, but her karaoke party blitz through the tune effectively stripped it of every ounce of angst or aggression, replacing the original's intent with peppy cheerleader charm.
Unlike the judges on "American Idol," I'm not going to mince words here: good riddance, Casey Abrams.
Yeah, the bearded lothario showed off some impressive musical skills during his improbably long run on the show. But in typical "Idol" fashion, we were expected to not pay attention to the fact that his vocals were frequently terrible and, frankly, sometimes just kind of disturbing, creepy and awful. It's a singing competition, right? Not a tryout for the "Wolfman" reboot?
I'm sure he's a nice fella (though his forced kisses on audience members as he made his way into the "Idol" netherworld were totally disconcerting), but he proved week in and out that he just wasn't right for this competition. "American Idol" isn't looking for the next quirky jazz star who will sell a "respectable" 100,000 copies.
Say what you will about Jacob Lusk's colorful ensembles on Wednesday night's Carole King-themed "American Idol" performance episode. But all the purple bow ties and electric-blue vests in the world cannot distract this viewer from a simple fact: It's time for the guy to go.
Though I've been in a (very vocal) minority for weeks about Jacob, telling anyone who will listen that his grating personality, screechy falsetto, preening stage presence and complete lack of commercial prospects are reason enough to get rid of him, it seems my fellow "Idol" experts have finally come around and seen the light.
For one of the first times all season, all four prognosticators in this column agree: Jacob is headed for the "Idol" phantom zone.
"There was an audible 'boo' after Jacob survived last week, so I imagine he had the most to prove last night, and while the judges loved the growling 'character' he debuted on 'Oh No Not My Baby,' I think it will get him sent home," opined MTV News "Idol Party Live" host Jim Cantiello. "Not to mention that the South was being overcome with storms and tornados, so the gospel loving community supporting their hometown hero may have had more pressing things on their mind. (Jennifer Hudson got booted when a huge storm hit her Chicago hometown.)??"
He's one-half of one of the best-selling male pop duos of all time and probably the last guy that comes to mind when you think of Internet innovation. But Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates has been building the perfect beast online since 2007 with his acclaimed free web-performance series, "Live From Daryl's House," which has featured everyone from Smokey Robinson to Travie McCoy, Neon Trees, Chromeo, Plain White T's and Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump.
Why are we telling you all this? Because the show just won the O Music Awards trophy for Best Performance Series, that's why. And in doing so it beat out some of the other most acclaimed and beloved live performance web shows, including 4AD's "Sessions," the A.V. Club's cover song series "Undercover," Beck's eclectic album covers experiment "Record Club," the taking-it-to-the-streets "Black Cab Sessions," Daytrotter's awesome series of indie shows, the intimate, HD "From the Basement" experience, the picturesque French acoustic series "La Blogotheque," MTV's own "Unplugged," the quirky "Tiny Desk Concerts" from NPR and the intimate "Yours Truly" series.
"Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard ... but I think ... OH, BONDAGE UP YOURS!" Those are the opening lines of one of the greatest punk songs of all times, X Ray Spex's 1977 firebomb, "Oh, Bondage, Up Yours!"
They're spoken in a girlish English accent by Poly Styrene, the band's singer and one of the most iconic figures in punk history, who died on Monday at the age of 53 after a long battle with cancer.
Styrene (born Marianne Elliot-Said on June 3, 1957) came to embody everything that punk meant to this budding teenage anarchist when I first discovered the sound of youth in revolt. More than former flatmate Johnny Rotten's sneering snarl, Joey Ramone's snub-nosed hiccup or Joe Strummer's agitated yawp, Styrene sounded like punk felt: messy, untrained, unrestrained, unafraid and uninhibited.
Her strangulated vocals, atonal, piercing, and yes, at times annoying, embodied the DIY aspect of the first wave, an explosion of anger, aimlessness, class revolt and freedom of expression that blew up in the messy blast of songs like "The Day the World Turned Day-Glo" and the pogo-ing face-punch of "I am a Poseur."