Bring it, April.
The only things I remember from this whirlwind of a winter are a trip to NYC (for a Communications Executive Council conference and Paul Rudd), buying my first home, and ringing in what’s shaping up to be a pretty sweet year.
Somewhere in between, I did some writing:
Around the first of the year, the Country Universe staff compiled our 2012 lists of top singles and albums, our most diverse sets to date. Have I mentioned how lucky I am to collaborate with these folks?
Season 12 of “American Idol” is ridiculous, but it’s also fresh, engaging and — at least for now — ripe with talent. Last month, I covered the Houston sneak peek of the premiere for CultureMap, and I’ll be popping in here and there throughout the season.
I hope to be back in writing mode as soon as I figure out this whole homeownership thing. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with:
This new hairstyle.
This old beauty:
This new (to the U.S.) beauty:
And this overdramatic but partially true New York Times post on the end of dating. Funny and sad, no?
An awesome way to remember one of my top three favorite seasons and arguably the best season in “Idol” history, even if I didn’t agree with the last man standing. You can read my full thoughts on Season 11 in my latest post for CultureMap Houston: Five lessons from “American Idol” Season 11.
The other highlight of the finale? This absolutely ridiculous performance by runner-up Jessica Sanchez and legend Jennifer Holliday. Run, don’t walk, to watch it.
For Carrie Underwood fans, it’s been a fun week of promo for her fourth album, Blown Away, which came out this past Tuesday. The album is a healthy creative departure for Underwood – darker, more challenging and more thematically diverse than anything she’s released so far. I’m not sure if it’s the album I’ve been waiting for from her –the one that showcases a fully realized artist– but it’s a bigger step in this direction than I expected. I’m particularly excited about the commitment she shows to creativity and to finding new ways to sculpt her massive instrument.
It’s no surprise that my two favorite songs off of the album are nothing alike. The first is a gorgeous, desperate country ballad that, true to the genre, swirls together themes of alcohol and heartache. The second is a southern gospel-flavored tale of revenge and murder. Check out her performance of the latter at her IHeartRadio concert in New York City (at which she also killed her definitive “Idol” song, “Alone”):
But my favorite tidbit from this past week is related to a song from back in theCarnival Ride era. I’ve blogged before about why I’ve been able to connect with Underwood’s music on a personal level, but I always find it difficult to explain. Sometimes it’s easier to point to the things that touch me the most – like this:
Oh, and I can’t resist. Love this:
The past few weeks months have been a blur of business trips, long hours at work and rewarding challenges. Let’s play a quick game of catch-up:
Josh Kelley, “A Real Good Try”
I adore this song off of Josh Kelley’s surprisingly decent debut country album, Georgia Clay. Country music with a dash of soul tends to hit my sweet spot, especially when it’s executed as well as it is here. Ashley Monroe’s delicate background vocals are the icing on the cake.
Adele, "One and Only"
The song’s lyrics are simple and its sentiment isn’t groundbreaking – but its vocal nuances and gorgeous throwback arrangement make it an instant favorite for me. I love how the fierce tenacity of Adele’s performance contrasts sweetly with the song’s soothing vibe. Her album, 21, is a must-buy.
Preview of “ACM Presents Girls’ Night Out: Superstar Women of Country”
-Wynonna Judd at the taping of the ACM special, a tribute of sorts to women in country music, which airs April 22 on CBS. As a country music writer, I do a lot of griping about the current state of the industry, but this quote reminds me that there are a handful of very –very– talented women in country music right now that have the power to carry the genre through its next generation. That’s a special thing, especially given the genre’s (unfair) male bias.
Kids’ reaction to Rebecca Black’s “Friday”
Is it bad that this makes me happy? Check out the incredulous look on 8-year-old Marlhy’s face at the 0:43 mark.
…I mean, really, how shocked can you be at Pia Toscano’s early exit, guys? (I refuse to address Steven Tyler, who might as well sleep through the live shows.) You’ve been consistently praising every contestant without giving any sort of assessment of the state of the competition – remember that, the competition?- other than “it’s anyone’s game.” Look, it’s great that you’re able to find something you love about every contestant, and it’s heartening that your critiques are sincere and passionate. But we need a definitive voice. We need you to take a stand. We need you to inject a little cut-throat into this race if you expect the great to float to the top.
For the past two months, I’ve been blogging the highs, lows and in-betweens of the pivotal tenth season of “American Idol” for CultureMap, a new Houston digital magazine. It’s been a treat (and surprisingly challenging) to write about the show that’s captured my attention, energy and –yes– emotion for so many years.