Saturday, December 24, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Pop Songs- #2

Making the decision for which song would be number one was tough between the top two... but in the end I had to make a decision.  One reason in the "pro" column for the following song is because its related to a super fun memory from my past... but ultimately, it had to be the runner-up.  Good effort Mariah.  You were close to that top spot... but in honor of your twins, you'll be representing the #2. 

My number two Christmas pop song is "All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey.  Sure... it's over played.  Sure... its been remade.  But let's be real.  For my generation, this song is the pinnacle of holiday classics.  Mariah is the last big pop star to release a holiday album where a single instantly has become a holiday staple.  It takes a lot for a contemporary artist to be considered amonst the old-time greats like Bing Crosby or Johnny Mathis... but Mariah's song is one of those that you hear everywhere, in every store, on every station, every year. 

The reason it's towards the top for me is for a couple reasons.  Well first of all, back in the day I was OBSESSED with Mariah Carey.  I mean... my freshman year of college (as many of my current friends can attest) I had an entire two walls covered with Mariah Carey posters and photos.  She was my ultimate artist.  I knew every song to every word.  My uber-fan status was so well known that during my freshman year, that is probably one of the main descriptors people would have used if you asked them about me.

Mariah released "Merry Christmas" when I was still in high school, and it was played on repeat starting in November until mid-January.  I believe it was my freshman year when it came out... and somehow I was able to talk a group of my girl friends to back me up as I took the solo and lip-synched this song at the Mendon High School holiday talent show.  My mom made me a silky santa-inspired robe... I wore a hot dress... bought some girly heeled shoes at Goodwill... and I even borrowed a bra from my well-endowed neighbor lady so I could stuff it.  In hind sight... I was a drag queen.  Yep.  I was a drag queen before I even knew what a drag queen was.  I was so clueless about my sexuality as a 9th grader that I just thought that I was paying homage to my favorite artist by dressing up as her and lip syncing it in front of the entire school.  I knew it would get some laughs... and I was so competitive that I really just wanted to win.  But let me tell you... that stage got WORKED!  :-)  Hahahaha.....  I went out there and I felt like I WAS Mariah Carey.  I sashayed.  I shimmied.  I belted.  I performed every word with so much gusto and heart that I had the audience on their feet at the end.  Long before anyone knew of RuPaul's Drag Race, I was out there "lip syncing for my life".  :-) 

Although embarassing to watch on video now, I still love that clip.  I love that I was this clueless 9th-grader who was performing for the rush and the thrill of the crowd.  I love that I wasn't afraid to get out there and be myself.  And in hindsignt, I love that I brought a little bit of diva to my small town high school.  I call that a gay victory.  :-) 

Fast forward a few years.... after Mariah's semi-insane ice-cream-cart-pushing, tshirt-stripping, word-slurring pit stop at TRL, my love and dedication for all things Mariah started to waver... but still to this day, I know most all the lyrics (pre-2000), and I can't get enough of her Christmas album at the holiday time.

For these reasons, I present to you my #2 Christmas Pop song of all time: "All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey: 

Friday, December 23, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Pop Songs #3

Only three songs left in the countdown!  This one is by the legendary Elton John.  I first came to really love and appreciate this song in college.  During my first year, I was living in the residence halls, and I totally remember a girl on my floor, Megan Stojic, talking about how "Step Into Christmas" was her favorite Christmas song.  I think I even remember her telling us all some story about how her and her sister used to put on their favorite Christmas socks and dance around the house to it.  She put the song on and danced around her dorm room.  :-)  One of those random things that just always sticks with you.

I'm pretty sure right after that I went and downloaded Step Into Christmas (for free... on like LimeWire or something... because that's how it was done in 1999 baby... hahaha).  Ever since then, its been on rotation every year for Christmas.  I just love how fun and carefree it is.  One of those songs that you can't help but bob your head to.... or put on your Christmas socks and dance around the house to.  :-)

A quick funny story about this song...  You know that commerical that is out right now where they show the people singing along to Elton John's "Rocket Man" and getting the lyrics completely wrong?  Well I sang a line to "Step into Christmas" wrong for the longest time.  For some reason I thought the lyric "Hop aboard the turntable" was actually "Hop aboard your chimney, boy"... as if Elton was singing this song directly to Santa Claus, hopping from chimney to chimney.  Hahaha!  I mean, the lyric was definitely wrong, but the chimney reference applies to Christmas, so it sorta made sense.... right?  Right?... (*crickets*).... Alright, I'm an idiot.  :-)

Enjoy song #3: "Step Into Christmas" by Elton John

Thursday, December 22, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Pop Songs: #4

So you know I take things like these countdowns very seriously... :). Almost just as serious as the decision of what song will be number one is what song will be number FOUR. Hahaha!

The song at #4 is one I consider to be one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded... Holiday or otherwise. From start to finish, this song has a delicate beauty to it that makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Add in the lyrics that exude such a hopeful spirit for the season, and you've got one amazing holiday tune!

The song is "Light a Candle" by the contemporary Christian vocal group Avalon. There was a time when Avalon was on the top of favorite musical artists list. The released some pretty incredible albums back in the late 90's and early 2000's. In 2000 they put out a holiday album called "Joy" and it still is one of my favorite Christmas CD's. For me, "Light A Candle" is by far the standout track. Just listen and I think you'll know why.

I've got some fond and impactful memories of this song. During the holiday season of 2000, I went to Saginaw and saw Avalon perform a holiday concert. I went with my friends Lisa and Allison. It was a great concert and Avalon did a signing afterwards. It was so awesome for me to meet this group that I loved! One of my first celebrity geek-out moments :)

Then in 2001, after the 9/11 tragedy, I remember there was a nation-wide candlelight vigil where people were encouraged to go out on their porches and light a candle in honor of those who lost their lives. I went to Lisa and Allison's house in Big Rapids (because at that time I was living in the residence halls and had no porch). We sat on the porch and blasted this song while we lit our candles. Although it wasn't holiday time, the hope and promise of this song was so poignant that it was perfect for the moment. It's a moment I'll never forget.

Enjoy #4: "Light a Candle" by Avalon

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Pop Songs- #5

We're getting closer to #1 folks!  We've got a super fun song at #5... by one of the most legendary music artists of all time: Paul McCartney.  The song is "Wonderful Christmastime."

I love this song because from start to finish it is just full of happiness.  Between the synthesizers and the very sing-along-able lyrics, it just always puts me in a good mood.  The video is full of cheeky cheesiness, including some awesome 80's style "special effects".

One thing I didn't know about this song until I did a little research is Paul McCartney recorded this song completely on his own.  His band Wings is featured in the video, but for the recording they had no part.  Pretty cool, and very talented to record and mix such a classic holiday song all by yourself. 


12 Days of Christmas Pop Songs- #6

We've made it halfway though the countdown!  And I'm happy to report that #6 is the last semi-depressing song on the list.  Hahaha!  I was reflecting on some of the previous songs and there are some serious ones in there for sure.  After we get through this song, I promise its only songs of hope and fun for the rest of the countdown.

 The song at #6 is "Do They Know It's Christmas" by the artists of Band Aid back in the 80's.  I've always enjoyed the song... but listening to the lyrics, its not something to get you excited about Christmas.  There are some pretty sad lyrics about the hunger in Africa, and I don't know about you... but when I'm preparing to eat a thick piece of Christmas ham its hard to be reminded of the starving people all over the world... but alas... this song has become a big hit over the years. 

I have to be honest with you about this selection.  I was really thinking that it was going to be lower in the list until I pulled up the YouTube link for it. If you haven't watched the video, or seen the collection of people pulled together for this song, then you HAVE to watch.  It's crazy in hindsight to see all of the really big names in music that came together relatively early in their musical careers to put this charity single together.  I mean, just watching the first minute you are going to see Sting, Bono of U2, George Michael, Phil Collins, Boy George and Simon from Duran Duran.  Whether your taste for 80's Europop is strong or not, its hard to deny that these are some of the biggest artists in music history.  That alone makes this a very powerful song.  Add that this song went on to be the biggest selling single in UK sales chart history when it was released, and its hard to deny this Christmas song as one of the best of all time.  I still like it every year at the holidays... so enjoy!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Pop Songs- #7

Ok... ok... ok.....

I'm prepared to get flack for this decision...

But I HAD to include this song in my top 12.  I could have tried to play the cool-kid-card and not admitted it, but I really, truly love this Christmas song.  And its one of those that makes me really feel like its Christmas when I hear it. 

The song at #7 is "This Gift" by 98 Degrees.  :-)  Yes... laugh at me.  I'll take it.  I'm a big boy.  I can handle the ridicule and embarassment.  Hahaha.

Honestly though... when 98 Degrees was in their prime, they had some seriously great tunes... and this song can easily be included in that.  Sure, their lyrics can sometimes be cheesy... and you can add this song to the list 57 songs 98 Degrees sang about proposing marriage.... but you can't deny that the group has some great pop harmonies.  Just watching this video, with Nick Lachey's bleached tips, makes me smile.  Let me just quickly add that in 2011 Nick Lachey is just as cheesy as he was back then.... I mean, have you all watched him as host of the Sing-Off?  Hahaha.  I still love him.  And watching this video also brings back my huge crush on Jeff Timmons.  Let's be real.... he was in the group for the eye candy appeal only.  The Lachey brothers and the Justin on bass held the groups vocals down.  But Jeff... damn!  He'd be a great Christmas gift, even still today!  I'm sure this video was difficult for him to film with a sweater on the whole time.  I think this is the only 98 Degrees clip you'll find where he's not wearing a wife-beater.  Hahaha!

So, without shame, I present to you my #7 Pop Christmas song of all time: "This Gift" by 98 Degrees:

12 Days of Christmas Pop Songs- #8

There are some moments in pop culture history that I wish I could have been there for to say I experienced it when it happened... and the song at #8 is one of those moments.  To me it seems like it would have been so exciting to see two worlds colliding.... new school and old school.... traditional and new wave... classic and contemporary. 

Bing Crosby can easily be considered the king of holiday music.  He's released so many albums and singles over the years, and his voice is synonomous with the holidays.  In 1977 he called on one of the most innovative, current pop artists to join him for a duet.  This man was the eccentric David Bowie.  It seemed like an interesting choice considering how conservative Bing's traditional audience was.  Bing and David recorded this song together in September of that year and taped a clip that would air during the holiday season for Bing's next televised Christmas special.  Sadly, Bing passed away just one month later.  This made the Christmas special that year even more poignant. 

I've always loved how simple this duet it, and how it seemlessly ties together Little Drummer Boy and Peace on Earth.  When you watch the entire video through and listen to the dialogue between Bing and David at the beginning, it makes the song that much more impactful.  These two different voices, from two different generations, came together to create a beautiful piece of timeless holiday music... and its one of those moments that I wish I was around for to watch it on TV when it first aired.  Still, it remeains a tune that I will listen to every single year during the holiday season. 

Here's #8: "Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth" by Bing Crosby and David Bowie:

12 Days of Christmas Pop Songs- #9

I'm so excited to write about the song at #9... mostly because its by my favorite artist of this very moment: Sara Bareilles.  I just saw Sara in concert a week ago, and it was near the top of the list of all-time momst amazing concert experiences.  My anthem album for 2011 is her most recent album "Kaleidoscope Heart".  The songs speak to my heart and have helped me get through some really difficult times that I've gone through recently. 

Although my love for Sara has grown much over the past year, I've really loved this particular song for many years.  It's a duet that she did with another great female singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson.  This song is so touching and powerful to me because its so very haunting.  Haunting isn't a typical adjective to describe a holiday song.... but its sheer beauty and the pain you can feel in their voices gives it that haunting quality.  The simple combination of piano and strings with their two voices is captivating.  I also appreciate how the song builds throughout its four minutes.  It starts with just simple piano, and by the end once all the strings and both their voices are added the sound is so rich, full and powerful. 

Yeah... so sue me that the song isn't really that happy... but in all honesty (and as I am feeling this year), not all holiday seasons are happy... and sometimes you just need that song that truly says what you are feeling. 

I'd also like to give props to whoever created the graphics for this music video.  I think it really captures the essence of the song.  So here is my #9 song: "Winter Song" by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson. 

12 Days of Christmas Pop Songs- #10

The song at #10 is by an artist that I listened to back in the day when I was heavily into contemporary Christian music.  At the time, she was kind of the Britney Spears of that genre... singing fun, cute, poppy songs about God.  The artist is Stacie Orrico.

Stacie had a brief spurt of mainstream success back in 2004/2005 when she hit the pop charts with the songs "Stuck" and "(There's Got To Be) More To Life".  I was really happy for her to hit the mainstream because I had been listening to her contemporary Christian stuff long before most people had heard of her. 

Also in the early 2000's, Stacie released a Christmas album titled "Christmas Wish" and my song at #10 is the title track from the album.  From what I could research, its an original song, not a remake... but if anyone knows differently, please feel free to share.  This song has stuck with me over the years, I think simply because its so poppy and easy to sing along with.  It has a nice message about the power of hope and love.  I'm sure many of you have not heard it, so I hope you enjoy it as well.  :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Pop Songs- #11

We will continue the countdown with a song that many people may not be familiar, but I really love the message.  One thing some of you may not know about me is that I interned at the Country Music Association in Nashville back in 2003-04.  Back then it was a fantastic time for poppy country music, and there were many groups/artists that I fell in love with.  One of those groups is SheDaisy.  This trio of sisters released a several albums in the late 90's and early 2000's including the holiday album "Brand New Year".  I purchased the album and loved their harmonious takes on several Christmas standards... but one track really stood out to me.  It was a cover of the Bing Crosby tune "The Secret of Christmas".  (that makes two Bing covers in two days!). 
"The Secret of Christmas" has such an awesome message... but SheDaisy's take on it is so mellow, smooth and relaxing, that I love listening to it.  It gets me all Christmasy.  Plus, I think at this time of year with all the stress, its good to hear this message.  It's not about fitting everything in at Christmastime... its about fitting Christmas-like acts and deeds into your whole year.   Enjoy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Pop Songs- #12

So as I was listening to my "Holiday Favorites" playlist on iTunes this weekend, I had this fun idea to do a countdown of my favorite holiday pop songs.  There are many that I love, and I always say "it doesn't feel like Christmas until I hear ______".   I've tried to stay away from the traditional Christmas standards with this list... instead I'm focusing more on original holiday pop songs.  Now some of these may not be by the original artist, but they are my personal favorite versions.  I've narrowed my list down to my top 12, which was not an easy feat!  There were many "honorable mentions" that may need to be compiled into a separate post.  It was fun to put all these songs into an iTunes and YouTube playlist!
I will post a new song every day until Christmas Eve!  We'll count down from #12 all the way to #1!  :-)

Kickstarting out countdown, I have chosen a song made most famous (at least for my generation) by what I consider to be one of the best Christmas movies every made: Home Alone.  Although it may not be the original by Bing Crosby, I prefer this jazzier version (and I love anytime I can use the descriptor "jazzier"... hahaha).  If this song doesn't put a smile on your face or make you want to snap along, then I don't know what will.  It's a great one to sing along to... so get your pipes ready.  My #12 Christmas Pop Song is "White Christmas" by the Drifters!  Enjoy!


Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Funnies!

I'm back with a Friday Funnies!

Considering that this week was Halloween, but totally didn't feel like it to me because of the move... I needed this laugh to start off my Friday!  I hope you enjoy too :-)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Merriment!

I had to share this hilarious video I saw on this morning.  I love things that are genuinely cute and funny without being put-on.  This is one of those things!  Gotta love how cute this guys mom is.  LOVE IT!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge- Day 6: A Song That Reminds You Of Somewhere

Today's song brings back memories of one of my favorite years of my life.  Over a time period of 2003-2004 I had the pleasure of living in Nashville, TN.  It is a fantastic little city with so much to do... especially for people in their 20's and 30's.  I had a blast and made some great friendships while I was there.

The song I've selected for today's challenge is "Dixieland Delight" by Alabama.  This song will always make me think of Nashville because it was hard to ever go out to downtown Nashville without hearing this song.  One of the great things about downtown Nashville is the line of honky-tonk bars that are always no-cover and always have live music playing.  Most are up-and-comers who are trying to get discovered... and often they were really good!  Sometimes you'd hear original music, but most of the time it was just a revolving jukebox of live cover songs.  Alabama songs came up often, but this song I particularly remember.  I don't think I had ever even heard this song before I moved to Nashville, and I left knowing all the words.  :-)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Funnies: George Michael- Sexy Sax

This totally reminds me of the "rick-rolling" videos that were popular a few years back.  But this time they are using an equally epic 80's tune.  Thought I'd pass this along to anyone who needed a laugh today! 

30 Day Song Challenge: Day 5- A Song That Reminds You Of Someone

With today's challenge, I decided to go with the whole "whats the first song that pops in my mind"... and the first one I came up with that had a connection with someone was the 1999 jam "Faded" by SoulDecision.  This group was a one hit wonder for sure (OK, maybe one and half... anyone remember "Ooh, It's Kinda Crazy"???)  But this song will always remind me of my good friend Rusty Gardner.  This song came out the year we graduated from high school, and I remember we both thought it was awesome.  I'm trying to dust off the cobwebs, but there is also a faint memory of this song being played at Rusty's wedding where I was his best man. 

While I'm talking about Rusty... can you all send out a prayer and some good thoughts for him???  He's serving overseas right now, and I totally give him so much respect and credit for devoting his life to protecting me and the rest of us in America.  If it wasn't for souls like Rusty on this planet, we'd all be in trouble.  A shout out to his wife Kim and two beautiful children too.  I'm sure they miss Rusty every day, and I commend them for their patience and unwavering love. 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge: Day - A Song That Makes You Sad

Today's song still makes me sad and emotional even though it first came out when I was 13 years old.  In fact, the fact that I was at that age is probably what connects it to such heartache for me.  The song I've chosen for this day is "Runaway Train" by Soul Asylum.

I am so lucky to have had an amazing family growing up, that I can't even imagine what it must have been like to runaway from home or to be abducted.  Both scenarios involve being separated from my family... and during teenage years that is so hard to imagine.  I remember this video being polarizing.  It was one that you wanted to see on MTV.  I remember thinking to myself "If I can just remember these names and faces, maybe someday I'll see one of these kids and I can help to solve the crime!".  Its just saddening to think that some kids and families have to go through that kind of emotional hardship.

Here's the video for my Day 4 choice:

American Idol S10: Top 13 Performances- "My Personal Idol"

I know I said that "4 The Love of Idol" wouldn't be happening this time around, but because I love season 10 of Idol so much, I couldn't help but sit down and write this recap after tonight's episode.  I really think this group is great!  Of course I don't love everyone, but as a whole, this group is the best that we've seen in several seasons.  I mean, there really isn't a laughably horrible person in the bunch.  By laughably horrible, refer to previous seasons:
Season 9- Tim Urban
Season 8- Megan Joy
Season 7- Kristy Lee Cook/Jason Castro
Season 6- Sanjaya/Haley Scarnato

I think removing these laughably horrible characters has elevated my level of enjoyment, just like removing a laughably horrible judge (Paula and/or Kara).  Both are huge improvements for the show.  All in all, I'm more excited about this season that I have been since Season 6 where I truly loved several contestants (Jordin, Blake, Chris, Lakisha). 

Here's my breakdown of tonight's performances:

Lauren Alaina- "Any Man of Mine"
I like Lauren.  I think out of all the contestants, she was the one that I was most impressed with from the very first audition.  I think she's got all the different facets of being a musical artist that you need, including a likability factor similar to Kelly Clarkson (like Randy has mentioned).  I wonder if Lauren is going to fall into the trap of being the "most-pimped" contestant though... similar to Mr. Straight-Up, Andrew Garcia... who going into the top 12 everyone thought was going to be in the final and then ends up getting voted out at top 8.  With all of that being said... I think that Lauren's performance last night is exactly what she needed to do.  She didn't bomb, but she wasn't amazing.  What Lauren needs to do is play it a little bit safe in the first weeks (or at least "safe enough") and then just open up her arsenal around top 8-ish time and rock it out to the end.  She can't be consistently amazing everytime, or one bad performance is going to get her voted out early.  She's gotta build and show improvement.  America loves an underdog (ahem...Kris Allen... ahem) and loves to watch a contestant grow and improve over time.  Lauren's gotta show growth or she's gonna get on people's nerves.  Speaking of getting on my nerves, did anyone else find it super annoying last week when Randy was comparing her to Kelly and Carrie, and she responds in a 5-year old Toddlers-and-Tiaras like squeal: "I'm just Laurrrrennnnnnn".  At that point, she lost several cool points in my Idol book.  All in all though, "Any Man of Mine" wasn't a bad choice for her.  She was able to have fun on stage and show a little bit of her cutesieness. But Lauren: your cutesiness is borderline annoyingness, so keep yourself in check.
Grade: B

Casey Abrams- "With a Little Help From My Friends"
Oh Casey... I struggle so much with Casey.  I love him.  I really do.  I love his creativity and musicianship and he has totally 100% impressed me so far this season.  The way he makes performances his own is something that Idol needs and thrives on... and I think he's a great addition to this year's finalists.  I love his offbeatness without being offbeat-annoying (ahem... Siobhan Magnus... ahem).  Taking all of that into consideration, I'm not sure if Casey is the type of contestant that I can rally behind for the title.  He's got a little bit of a Taylor Hicks thing about him where I know America will love him, but can this guy have a legitimate music career?  or will he just fade away into off-Broadway obscurity.  Regardless of the endgame, he will be a pleasure to watch for the next several weeks because he definitely won't be going home anytime soon.  Tonight's performance was a little scratchy and growly for me, but then again, it's Joe Cocker (and we all know from last year's guest spot on the finale that scratchy and growly is about all Joe Cocker's got going for him these days!).  He wrapped the song up nicely and its definitely enough to keep him safe for next week.
Grade: B

Ashton Jones- "When You Tell Me That You Love Me"
I admit, I've really liked Ashton from the few glimpses that we saw of her during Hollywood week.  She hasn't been pimped as much as the other contestants, but from what I saw I have strongly felt that Ashton is very current.  She's very Rihanna/Beyonce-ish.  She's got the look, and some likeable-yet-diva-ishness to her.  I see lots of potential.  The judges seemed to feel the same way about her last week and put her through to the 13 with the wild card... and although I'm sure Ashton was ecstatic to have a second chance, I think the rest of America had a "WTF?!?" moment when the judges named her first from the Wild Card.  This automatically bodes unfavorably for her, and Ashton really needed to wow America this week to win back some love.  What Ashton did right was pick Diana Ross.  After all the comparisons, I think that was spot on.  What Ashton did wrong was pick THIS Diana Ross song.  Diana has a library full of fun poppy songs that Ashton could have taken and ran with... and probably put her own spin on.  But, she didn't.  She sang a fairly boring song... and she sang it fairly boringly.  I'd also like to mention that it wasn't smart of Ashton to mention that she's "never sang a note that high before".  Ummm, Ashton honey... the note wasn't that high!  Other contestants like Pia were hitting notes that were almost octives above this note you are struggling with.  That comment alone proved that Ashton isn't as talented as some of the others in this group of 13.  I do have to say that she did pull the song together well at the end... and really it wasn't that bad.  It was just boring.  Will Ashton go home this week?  I wouldn't be surprised.  She's definitely heading home before top 10... so if its not this week, it will be soon.
Grade: C

Paul McDonald- "Come Pick Me Up"
I'm gonna say it right now.  If Paul wins this season over all these other talented people, I will officially be PISSED OFF.  Something in my gut is telling me that Paul is sticking around a lot longer than he should this season... and depending on if the same cougars and tween girls attach to him that have attached themselves to David Cook, Kris Allen, and Lee DeWyze, we could have Paul in the final.  That gives me queasiness in my stomach just thinking about it.  IDOL VIEWERS: We need to break the mold! Season 10's winner CANNOT be another white male singing semi-radio friendly pop-rock singles.  It just CANNOT happen!  PLEASE!  OK... enough with my plea to America... back to Paul.  I'll admit that I didn't hate Paul's rendition of Rod Stewart last week.  His voice and manurisms are interesting, but at the same time a little endearing.  This week's song choice was not good if you ask me.  Jennifer is like the majority of Americans who probably don't even know Ryan Adams let alone that song (I know "New York, New York" only from VH1).  Both Randy and Jennifer said that they hoped America "gets it" and even Paul himself said in his backstage comment that he hopes America "gets it".  Paul: I didn't get it.  I'm not sure how many people did.  What I do know though is that these damn cougars and tween girls "get" your smile and your pearly whites are going to get you through for many weeks to come.
Grade: C

Pia Toscano- "All By Myself"
During the Green Mile episode, when we found out that Pia had made it to the Top 24, I wasn't surprised, but part of me was like "Meh... she'll be gone in the first few weeks".  She wasn't featured too much, and what was featured of her was good, but nothing exciting.  I figured she would be the "pretty girl with a decent voice" of this season, who usually makes it though but goes home fairly early.  Boy, was I wrong!  Pia is the contestant who has surprised me the most so far this season.  Her performance of "I'll Stand By You" put her on the map last week.  With such a strong performance out of the gate, she had some big high-heeled shoes to fill this week... and she knocked another one out of the park with "All By Myself".  It's really a big thing for me to be gushing about a contestant who has sang these two songs that are fairly "typical" by Idol standards.  I tend to gush over people who make riskier more creative choices.  But even picking these standard ballads, Pia has proven that if you sing a strong, flawless vocal you will definitely impress.  And... also impressive is that although she didn't change either song up, she still made the song feel like it was Pia... and not a karaoke version of Celene or Chrissie.  I still don't know if she has the engaging personality to win the whole season... but I would love to see more personality over the coming weeks with the hopes that she could make it to the end.  And... its hard to write about Pia without commenting on how flawlessly beautiful she is.  I mean HOT!  People will pay attention to her for this reason alone... but once she starts belting out those notes, its very apparent that she's not just another "pretty girl with a decent voice".
Grade: A

James Durbin- "Maybe I'm Amazed"
There's a soft spot in my heart for James.  It's hard to not let James's story affect how I feel about him and his performances.  Between his whole "I'm doing this for my family" mentality and his Tourette's tics I feel personally invested in James's story.  I want to see him succeed.  So far in the last two weeks I think James has definitely proven himself as a deserving competitor.  Sure, the comparisons to Adam Lambert's screaming vocals are there, but James isn't a Glambert... he's just a regular guy who happens to have a gift and love for performing.  I appreciate that about him.  After last week's Judas Priest performance (which I didn't love... but it was enough to get him through), I have to admit that I was quite shocked to see that his personal Idol was Paul McCartney.  I am SO glad that he picked "Maybe I'm Amazed" because I think it was a great song for him.  It showed that he can sing some soft vocals in addition to the screaming.  I wasn't a fan of the arrangement, as it sounded very repetitive with the "Maybe I'm a man..." lyric occuring again and again and again, but chopping down a song into 1:40 is difficult.  Still, his vocals were on point.  What James has that some of the other contestants don't though, is that I am invested in him as a person even after he's done performing.  I genuinely care about what the judges say about him and how he reacts to the comments.  Other contestants I could fast-foward through the judges comments... but with James you can tell by the look on his face that he is anxiously waiting on every word that comes out of thier mouths.  Not only does he feed off of the praise, but I think he wants the feedback both positive and negative so that he can make needed changes from week to week.  I'm excited to see his progression
Grade: B+

Haley Reinhart- "Blue"
Out of all 13 contestants, Haley is the one I care for the least.  I honestly was shocked when America voted her as one of the top 5 girls.  I don't get it.  I don't understand what sort of star quality or likeableness people would see in her for them to pick up the phone and actually vote.  With this season's top 13, I feel happy with all other 12, but I honestly feel that Haley's spot deserved to go to the beautiful and talented Julie Zorilla.  She made a bad song choice during the semi's by singing Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway", but every other performance they had shown prior was stunning.  Julie had star quality (she's the one that after she auditioned Jennifer looked at Randy and suggested "Winner???") and Haley doesn't have the same star quality.  In fact, she kinda bugs me.  She has some sense of entitlement to her that I don't get.  I like my Idol's humble.  I feel like Haley is always trying to prove and not improve.  She's trying to prove why she is good and deserving of a spot instead of taking each performance as an opportunity to grow and improve.  Haley's lucky she picked a song that had some yodeling in it, because honestly that is the only thing that made it memorable.  It was a little bit out of the box, but other than that, I agreed wholeheartedly with Randy when he said it was "sleepy".  For some reason she has a fan base that got her into the top 5 girls, so I doubt she will be going home this week... but I certainly hope that she goes within the first 3 weeks so that she doesn't make the tour.  This year's tour has such potential to be awesome... and I feel that if she made it to the tour she'd be taking a spot of someone more deserving (kinda like she did from Julie in the top 13). 
Grade: C

Jacob Lusk- "I Believe I Can Fly"
Oh Jacob.  Where do I start with Jacob?  Well let's start with the things I appreciate about him.  I appreciate his range.  He's got mad hella range in his voice for sure.  I also appreciate his passion.  I feel like he does a great job of putting his whole heart and self into a performance.  I understand that with those two things together, Jacob has the making of being a star in a lot of people's eyes... but not mine.  Some media outlets are making him one of the frontrunners and I don't agree.  I wouldn't buy a Jacob album.  I wouldn't go to a Jacob concert.  Maybe that means he's just not my cup of tea.... but I think that I am Idol's cup of tea, and as a loyal fan, he's just not doing it for me this season.  Not to go completely personal on him... but let's face it: Homeboy likes other homeboys.  It's so painfully obvious.  I know his little God-loving heart is probably not ready to reveal that on national television, but its very apparrent and  I feel bad that the media is probably going to start eating him up over it... especially if he makes it far in this competition.  His life is going to be flipped upside down and every other direction once the media gets involved.  With all that personal stuff to the side, Jacob's performance tonight had more mistakes than anyone elses.  The whole second verse was completely off key and sounded horrible.  With that said, he is Jacob and pulled it together with those super high belty notes that he is known for.  I still didn't like his performance tonight though.  And can we talk about R. Kelly being his personal Idol?  Eeek! That in itself is a PR nightmare!  Adding that to the looming sexuality issues... and he's a publicists nightmare. 
Grade: C-

Thia Megia- "Smile"
I don't know if I really have too much to say about Thia.  She hasn't super impressed me so far... but her voice is decent.  I don't really get the correlations between her tone and Michael Jackson's tone.... I just don't hear it.  She seems cute and likeable, but I just can't see millions of people flocking to iTunes to buy her singles.  "Out Here On My Own" last week sounded much better to me than this jazzy version of "Smile".  I agree with the judges that the arrangement didn't work.  She also had quite a few sour notes in there.  Overall, I think she could be in trouble.  Not only was her performance not good, but she seemed miffed at the judges comments like she couldn't believe that they didn't like it.  Really??!!  Maybe once she watches it back she will see.  The crying backstage probably didn't bode well for her either.  It didn't seem earnest.  It seemed pouty.  I guess she is only 15 though... but still she needs to be mature enough to last many weeks in this competition, and crying during top 13 week is not a good place to start.
Grade: C

Stefano Langone- "Lately"
OK... I'm gonna get my my 14-year-old-tween-giddiness out of the way and admit that I think Stefano is such a little muffin!  With the bright smile and big brown eyes, I am smitten.  And I also love that when Stefano stands next to Ryan Seacrest he is about 2 inches shorter which makes him about 4'9".  Kidding!  I was super glad that the judges saved him in the Wild Card round though because that rendition of Smokie Norfill's "I Need You Now" was (to use my phrase:) amazeballs!  It was a perfect song choice for Stefano and he pulled it out when he needed to.  The thing about Stefano is that not only is he adorable but he has a unique tone that really does set himself apart from other cutesy male singers.  But this strength is also a detrement because he HAS to select songs that go along with that tone.  Tonight we saw an example of a song that didn't quite match of with his tone.  The beginning of "Lately" definitely sounded off.  Then that techno beat kicked in and cocked my head sideways kinda like a dog does when they hear a weird sound.  But, I have to say that once the song kicked into Stefano's high range, he definitely connected with it.  And like Jennifer, I was sorta even digging the whole dancey version.  The thing was, he owned it.  He knew it was different, but he worked on it with the producer and felt comfortable with it.  If he would have physically shown signs that he wasn't on board with the upbeat version, then he wouldn't have sold it (kinda like the signs Thia was giving that she wasn't 100% comfortable with the jazzy version of "Smile")  But Stefano gave it his all and I commend him for that. 
Grade: B

Karen Rodriguez- "I Could Fall In Love"
Karen was one of those contestants who wasn't featured much doing the auditions or Hollywood Week, but once I caught a glimpse of her I wanted to know more.  Now that I know more, I'm not sure sure I got what I wanted.  I want to like her.  I think she's cute.  And I am digging her latin infusion, although I know there are a lot of haters out there... Which can I mention that I couldn't not believe all the tweets when she sang in Spanish that were saying "This is AMERICAN Idol not MEXICAN idol". Really people?!?! Hate to tell you mid-America, but after living in California for a few years, THIS IS AMERICA.  All the cultures.... languages... everything.  So get over yourself and your oppressive language barrier.  *steps off soap box*  It was no surprise that Karen was going to sing Selena.  That's what got her through the Green Mile epsiode when we saw J.Lo crying over her vocals.  Although she obviously had a deep-rooted connection to Selena as we saw in her video package, I don't feel that Karen turned that into a connection with the audience.  The vocals weren't bad by any means.  Definitely on key... but the song was a bit boring and she did nothing to make it her own.  The song doesn't have any huge belty power notes like "All By Myself" so if she wanted to impress with "I Could Fall In Love" then she needed to add a little bit more to it.  She tried with the last string of notes, but it was a little too late.  America was already sleeping by then.  Still, I feel that Karen has the potential to rock out some future performances, so I would feel bad if she went home this week... but it may just happen.
Grade: B-

Scotty McCreery- "The River"
I love Scotty.  I've loved him since he opened up his mouth at his audition.  The thing with Scotty is that he doesn't have to win.  Country labels are foaming at the mouth right now to sink thier teeth into Scotty.  If he didn't make the top 13, he would have had labels knocking on his door the next day.  He's just got one of those voices that you can't deny.  I remember in his audition that Jennifer said that she felt like she just discovered someone who is going to have a very long career, and I couldn't agree more.  Scotty is going to be around for a while.  And even though I said Scotty doesn't have to win... he just might.  Any of you following the Idols on Twitter may notice that he has more followers than any other contestant (and that says a lot considering that many of his country fans are probably just warming up to Twitter for the first time).  If Twitter followers is any indication, and I think it is, then Scotty has a LOT of fans already.  Last week with "Letters from Home" and then tonight with "The River" Scotty stayed in his comfort zone... but can you blame him?  I'm sure he's gonna get pushed out of it during one of these upcoming theme weeks, so he might as well knock 'em out of the park while he can.  His gosh-darn, down-home grin and antics are starting to feel a tad bit put-on to me, but if he can reel those things in and just be himself and a little more genuine, I think he has a good chance at being our first male country Idol.
Grade: A

Naima Adedapo- "Umbrella"
First of all, can we chat America?  Dear America: What the heck is wrong with you that Naima got LESS votes than Haley last week?  It's a shame that Naima had to be saved with the Wild Card.  I thought she had a guaranteed spot.  That was a shocker for sure.  Thankfully she did what she needed to do last week to have the judges pick her (although she would have had to bomb, because we know that the judges and producers love her cleaning-the-concert-facility-to-singing-on-stage storyline).  Naima has won me over so far with her personality too.  You can just tell that she feels so fortunate to be a part of this experience and she is loving every minute of it.  With tonight's performance, I have to say I was quite surprised by her personal Idol choice.  Not that Rihanna isn't great, but after people have performed Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Garth Brooks, her choice of Rihanna just seemed a bit odd.  And then to find out she was singing Umbrella was even more of a shock!  To me that is a dance-jam, not a song that you use to showcase your singing talents.  Kinda like the guy who sang Usher's "OMG" last week... I thought Naima's choice may have been an OMG (or WTF) moment.  But... It actually really worked for me!  I loved that she took some chances!  From the first eight count where she busted out those dance moves, I was intrigued.  It was definitely something different that what we had seen thus far!  Then... she added that reggae break in there too?  She was pulling out all the stops.  What Naima did was make that performance interesting.  She didn't just stand there and sing... she added her own flair, and she owned the stage.  I give her mad props, and I appreciate that she brought something unexpected.  I totally thought she was going to sing some India.Arie-ish soulful songbird tune, but instead she brought the fire.  For that, I give you a....
Grade: A-

Oh... and can I just comment about how lousy it is that Naima's phone number is "36"???  Really?  That sucks for her!  I hope it doesn't impact votes.  I like how Ryan played it off that it was because "13" is unlucky... when in all actuality they can't use that number because its a PHONE SEX LINE!  Drama!

So let's rank the Idols thus far.  Not necessarily just based on tonight, but my personal feelings on the Idols in the last two weeks:
1. Pia Toscano
2. Scotty McCreery
3. James Durbin
4. Naima Adedapo
5. Casey Abrams
6. Lauren Alaina
7. Stefano Langone
8. Karen Rodriguez
9. Thia Megia
10. Paul McDonald
11. Jacob Lusk
12. Ashton Jones
13. Haley Reinhart

My prediction for the elmination this week:  Bottom three will include Ashton, Karen and Thia.  Because Ashton performed so early on in the episode (which does affect votes!)... and because Karen and Thia made it through on America's votes last week and didn't have to be saved... AND because Ashton has the lowest number of followers on Twitter..... I will equate that all to be that Ashton will be going home tonight. 

What do you think?  Leave a comment!!! 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge: Day 3- A Song That Makes You Happy

There are tons of songs that make me happy, so again today is a hard one choose.  But I really tried to think hard, and through this process I was able to dust the cobwebs off a song that I haven't heard in a while, but definitely makes me happy whenever I hear it.  That song is "Happy Face" by Destiny's Child. 

I remember seeing Destiny's Child perform this song live at their concert. It was the encore and at the end a bunch of yellow happy face balloons descended from the stage. It was pretty awesome. It's hard to listen to this song and not be in a happy mood. 

Enjoy!  I hope it puts a smile on your face!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge: Day 2- Your Least Favorite Song

Today's selection is much, MUCH easier.  In fact, as soon as I read the category, I new exactly what song I was selecting.

Day 2- Your Least Favorite Song.

Without a doubt, I had to choose "Don't Touch Me" by 3OH!3.  Every time this song comes on I feel as if someone is forcibly rubbing a cheese grater up and down over my ears.  It's horrid.  First of all... these guys can't sing AT ALL. They are basically just talking the words.  It's like Ke$ha, but more annoying and less talented.  Then... as if their level of talent wasn't horrible enough, they have to add in some of the most offensive lyrics ever!  I mean, do you really have to say something that offensive about Helen Keller?!?  Really?!?!  I like to think i have a good sense of humor, but dumb stuff like that isn't funny.  It's just dumb.  And uncreative.  Can't you come up with something a bit more creative for your lyrics? 

So anyway... here is the link.  I hope you choose to NOT click it and save yourself the agony of listening to it.  AND... not give 3OH!3 another hit on their YouTube account.  They can drift off into obscurity anytime now. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge: Day 1- Your Favorite Song

Some of you may have seen this "30 Day Song Challenge" going around on Facebook.  As much as I love music, I was definitely in to give it a try.

But I already have my first complaint: Could you start with an easier task?

Day 1's challenge is to select "your favorite song".  Really??!?  Just one?  That is so hard for me.  It may be super easy for some people, but for me I have an entire playlist on my iPod & iPhone dedicated to my favorite songs.  I call it "Matt's Life Soundtrack".  I refered to this list to select my song for day one. 

After lots of consideration, I have decided on the 1992 track from 10,000 Maniacs, called "These Are Days".  This is one song that puts me in a positive mood, no matter when I hear it.  I think the meaning behind this song really hits home with me... that these are the days to remember, so get out there and make memories!  As the lyrics say, I have been "blessed and lucky" that my path in life has crossed with some seriously amazing people and I've had the opportunity to create some amazing memories. 


Katie Couric reports on the "Sillies"

Here's a funny video to start your week off with. Thanks to Funny Or Die for always coming up with hilarious scenarios. Love this one!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Best Picture Nominees... in Legos

I love this guy's creativity!  Wish I had the resources to be this creative and get featured on CNN!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

American Idol 10: My thoughts so far...

So my foray into the blogosphere intially started with my American Idol blog called "4 the Love of Idol".  I started it because I loved the show and wanted a way to talk to my friends and family about it even if we were miles apart.  Although it was something that I was passionate about, last season burned me out... as I felt I was attempting to blog about a season that was less than stellar.  None of the contestants really made me want to buy thier CD's or concert tickets... and all in all, it was kind of a let down for me after loving American Idol for the previous 8 seasons (well... except that weird season 5 Taylor Hicks debacle...).

Add to this frustration the fact that Simon Cowell was leaving Idol, and I was completely underwhelmed about blogging this year.  Going into the season, I told myself I wasn't going to waste my time on it.  If Simon was leaving, they might as well just cancel Idol.  He makes the show.

Now that we are four weeks into season 10 of Idol... I have three words to sum up my initial feelings:

I. Was. Wrong.

Dead wrong. Idol is completely capable of existing without Simon.  In fact... I have no fear in saying that I even think Idol is BETTER this year.  Dare I say, better than EVER?  I will definitely stick my neck out and say, thus far, this is my favorite season of Idol ever.

Now I know some of you may disagree with me.... but hear me out.  I'll give you my reasons why I feel that this revamp of Idol was the best thing they could do to revive the series from its dead-on-arrival ninth season:

  • Steven Tyler is captivating.  Steven has this unique way of being funny and heartfelt all wrapped into one.  Did anyone expect Steven to be as lovable and sympathetic as he is?  I know I didn't.  Plus... the guy has got jokes!  He makes me laugh at least once an episode.  I love his energy and enthusiasm for the contestants.  I love that he will randomly break into song with a contestant.  At first I thought this was a disasterous decision by the Idol team to add him to the panel, but now we are seeing what the execs must have seen all along.  He can captivate an audience and bring a fresh approach to the judging panel.
  • Jennifer Lopez is endearing.  JLO was another person that I totally had a false perception of.  I thought she was going to come in and be all diva-ish, when in actuality she is quite the opposite.  She is relatable, approachable, and loving.  And the most important thing about all of those qualities is that she can be all of them at once, without being clingy, annoying and self centered.  Which brings me to my third reason:
  • The panel doesn't include a Paula or a Kara.  For the first time in Idol history, there isn't a whiny, overly weepy, fake female on the panel!  So yes, Jennifer does cry, but it is completely sincere.  Paula and Kara just brought this ingenuine feeling to the panel.  They were emotional, and tried to make it seem that they genuinely cared for the contestants, but I just didn't really feel it.  With Jennifer, I feel it.  Without Paula or Kara on the panel, it has improved the show tremendously.
  • Randy has more substance.  With Randy stepping up as the senior member of the panel, I feel like he is contributing more than he has in past seasons.  He's not all "dawg"ed out this season, and I appreciate it.  He's giving the contestants more constructive feedback instead of just telling them he "wasn't feelin' it". 
But let's face it.  All these previous points would be moot if it wasn't for the contestants that actually come and try out.  Even after 10 years of this show, I feel that they found a fantastic pool of talent.  There are great singers... but also great personalities.  Some of my favorites so far include:

Ashton Jones: A mix of Rhianna and Beyonce.  She definitely has the look and the chops to back it up.  Plus, she seems so darn sweet and likable.
Julie Zorrilla:  This girl is gorgeous, and she has a beautiful delicate voice.  It was nice to hear her play the keyobard as well.  I've enjoyed her fashion so far!  I think she's current.
Karen Rodriguez: Hadn't really stood out to me until her Beatles performance last night, and then she stood out.  Good stage presence, and a likable personality.
Naima Adedapo: When you're casting for unique contestants, this is a hit on the bullseye.  Naima has a memorable look, and her gritty, passionate vocals are also hard to forget.
Robbie Rosen: Robbie sure nose how to impress the judges!  (Mean-spirited pun intended).  Joking aside, he's stood out for his soulfulness everytime he's performed.  I smell a top 10 finalist!  (OK, really... I'll stop now.)
Scotty McCreery: So Scotty's got a bit of controversy surrounding him, but at the end of the day this kid will sell country records.  No doubt about it.  He's got a look that will make little country girls shriek, and that memorable deep voice is hard to ignore.
Stefano Langone: OK... so this may be a little bit of 14 year old girl coming out in me, but how can you resist Stefano's smile and big beautiful brown eyes?  He's definitely the "dreamiest" of the guys remaining.  He's got a lot of charisma, almost to the point of being too much... but if he can harness it, I could see him making it at least to the tour.

Now that I've named these people, I hope that all of them make it tonight when they announce the remaining finalists! 

There are two names I didn't include in that group because I wanted to make special note of them:
Jacee Badeaux: This kid is ratings gold!  They have already made such a strong storyline for him with the whole kicked-out-of-my-group thing... plus I mean, how can you not just give the kid credit for having natural talent with not a single ounce of arrogance?  It's commendable.  All I know is if he makes it to voting rounds, he won't be going home anytime soon.  American already loves him.
Lauren Alaina: I always hate to make early predictions, but at this point if anyone has the ability to win season 10, I'd put my money on Lauren.  She has the it factor for sure.  She's cute, and dang can she sing!  The thing about Idol in recent seasons is that the contestants who are pimped early (Adam Lambert, Lil Rounds, Crystal Bowersox, Andrew Garcia, etc) end up making it far, but never quite winning.  Lauren's just gotta lay low for a bit, and make sure to not come with a full arsenal during the first few weeks.  America likes to see progression and improvement.

So there you go... my thoughts on Idol so far this season.  After the official top 24 list is revealed, I'll probably have more to say.  Although I will not be officially blogging on "4 the Love..." this year, I will make updates here on my personal blog about the show from time to time, so I encourage to you to check in or subscribe if you are a passionate Idol follower. 

Happy Idol'ing!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Red Carpet Premiere: "I Am Number FOUR"

I love L.A.

Have I told you that lately?

Oh... and I love Shanyn Day for tipping me off to a tweet she saw about tickets to the premiere of "I Am Number Four".  Thanks to her, Rich and I got tickets to see the red carpet premiere in Westwood.  I mean... if there was ever a movie for Rich and I to see at a premiere, its this one.  With my love of the number four, and Rich's love for sci-fi action movies it was a perfect match. 

Before I get to the actual movie, I will share two important lessons I learned Wednesday:

1.  Movie premiere tickets are not quite like TV taping tickets. Since moving to L.A. I've had the opportunity to go to several TV show tapings, and they always overbook them... so you need to show up hours in advance to ensure that you are going to get in.  When we got the tickets for this premiere and it had a lot of the same verbiage ("arrive early," "first come first serve," "purposely overbooked"... etc.) I thought we were going to have to show up several hours in advance of the 4:30 call time in order to get in.  Not true.  Rich and I arranged to leave work early and got there at 2pm to stand in line.  There as no need.  We could have shown up at 4:00pm or even probably 6:00pm and still gotten in.  The movie didn't start until 7:30, so we basically did a LOT of standing.  Which leads me to lesson number two:

2. Having a partner that you truly love is such a blessing.  With all the frustrations that could have possible turned into negativity in this situation, Rich and I stayed in good spirits and had a great time together.  There are so many other details I could go into regarding the odd way DreamWorks handled this premiere (example:  the first people in line who showed up earliest ended up with the worst seats in a completely separate theatre than the stars of the movie...).  But no matter what the frustration was, Rich and I took it with a "what happens, happens" attitude and took it for what it was worth.  After all, we are lucky enough to see a FREE, advance screening of a movie we were both excited about... and in the meantime we got to see some of the stars of the movie on the red carpet.  Pretty cool!  And... can I just say that if you have someone in your life that you can stand in line with for 5.5 hours and you are still smiling afterwards, you've got a pretty good thing going.  This experience solidified that for me.

OK... so enough lovey-dovey schmooshy stuff... lets get on to the movie:

If I had to wrap it up in a quick sentence or two, I would say this:  If you have any doubts or questions in the first half of the movie... just wait it out because the last 20-30 minutes are pretty awesome. 

More extensively, I'd say this:  This movie really has a little bit of everything.  It's got some love story... some action.... some sci-fi.... and honestly I jumped at this movie more than I jump at most horror/thriller films, so it even had that.  I think most people would watch the movie and walk away enjoying it.

Basically its about this teenage guy who is actually an alien.  He's from another planet, but when he was a kid he was sent to Earth with a "protector" along with eight other children who are believed to have special powers and will be able to come back to thier home planet and save it later on from mass destruction of these other aliens from an opposing planet (the Mogs).   Ok... ok.... so after that first long sentence, you are probably thinking "Matt Eickhoff actually watched this movie??!?".  Yes.  I did.  Sci-Fi usually isn't my thing, but the story is intriguing so I really liked it.  Long story short, the Mogs are attempting to kill each of the 9 kids before they grow old enough to mature thier powers and come back to thier home planet (Lorien) and defend it.  The catch is that the kids all have a symbol and an order to them... and they can only be killed in that order.  John, the main character, is number FOUR, and at the beginning of the movie, number three is killed.  So now he's next on the list.  The movie is basically his attempt to avoid being killed by the Mogs in hopes to stay alive and still defend Lorien.

BUT.... of course.... what would a movie be without a little love story to mess things up.  :-)  Sarah, played by Glee's Dianna Agron, plays this ex-popular girl who now is kinda the loner-artsy type.  John falls for Sarah and it makes things very complicated.  I was actually really excited to see Dianna in this movie because I really do love her on Glee.  She was OK in the movie... but I actually don't know if the casting was quite right for the character.  She's almost too pretty... and fits the popular girl role too well to be believed as the "now-loner" of the school.  But still, it was enjoyable to watch her on screen (and see her in real life as she walked down the red carpet).

So.... I do have to admit, the movie did have a tad bit of a Twilight-ish feel to it... simply in the way that there is a human girl who loves a non-human and the non-humans struggle to over choosing love or life.  The dialog is pretty simple, and the story is straightforward... also in the way Twilight is.  But!  There are two things that take this movie way beyond Twilight in my opinion:  First... the action.  Again, not much of an action movie kinda guy... but the way they pulled together the effects of the characters special powers, along with the battles with the Mogs, I actually thought the action and effects were quite well done and pretty believeable for an "alien-battle-on-Earth" scenario.  The second reason I think its better than Twilight is two words: Alex Pettyfer.  Whoo!  This guy is smokin'!  I mean... he's way better eye candy than Jacob and Edward combined!  That was enough to keep me awake through the whole thing (which of those of you who have seen movies with me, you know that is sometimes a struggle). 

To wrap up, I would say definitely go see I Am Number Four.  Is it going to win Oscars?  No.  But its a fun, action packed movie that is definitely worth the admission price. 

Here are some other pictures from the day:
Rich and I standing by the Red Carpet when we arrived in the afternoon

We got to see them literally "roll out the red carpet" :-)

This is what the red carpet looked like at night all lit up

We got to meet Max Adler who plays Karofsky on Glee!  YAY!

And we got to meet Ariel Winter, Alex on Modern Family! :-)

Unfortunately, this was the best picture I could get of Dianna Agron.  She practically ran past us!

And this was the closest we got to Alex Pettyfer... Still cool to see him live in person!

And finally.... this is Rich and I after the movie.  A girl at the concession stand gave us a free poster :-)