Catching Up With Tim Halperin, Part One

I find that it’s hard to ignore talent. The main reason I continue to watch American Idol after all these years is to see what each season’s crop of talent brings to the table. This season we were introduced to 23-year-old Tim Halperin, a singer-songwriter from Fort Worth, TX. After making it through to Hollywood Week, Halperin moved on next to the Vegas round where he had a stellar, standout performance, which helped take him to through the Top 24.

After falling short of making the Top 13 this past week, Halperin headed home to Omaha, NE to be with his family. He graciously took the time to chat with me over the phone this weekend about his American Idol experience.

I know it’s been only a couple days, but how is post-Idol life treating you?

It’s good. It’s a transition, for sure. It’s crazy going from being on the number one TV show in America to being back in reality. I feel like I’ve had a smooth transition for the most part.

How did you first get your start in music?

I grew up just loving music, started taking piano lessons at six-years-old. In middle school, I started playing with the worship team at church, and then eventually started playing with bands in high school. And when I went off to college at TCU, I had started recording and playing some more shows. Then I graduated from TCU here in May.

Wow, so you’re fresh out of college?

Yeah, timing-wise it was really perfect for Idol to happen.

So, when did you really start working on your songwriting?

It was about during my sophomore year of high school I believe when I wrote my first kind of serious song. It was really slow at first. You know, I’d write a couple here. When I got to college, I just started writing some more. I played a talent show my sophomore year of college, and people were wondering when I was going to release some of the songs that I had written. And I was like, maybe that’s a good idea. Maybe I should do a short CD. I recorded a five track CD and put it up on iTunes by the winter of my sophomore year in college. That led me to keep songwriting.

And songwriting you know, is just like anything else; the more practice you have, the better you get. I feel like I really started figuring out who I was as an artist and who I wanted to be in the last year and a half or so. I started to write a lot more and started to feel where I was headed.

When you’re working on a song, do you start with the lyrics or do you start with the melody first?

I usually start with lyrics first. I’m not the type of person that has you know, two hours every day I’m going to song write. I usually feel just the urge to write. Either I’m going through something personally, emotionally or I’m affected by people around me who are going through something. Or I notice something I never have before, it’s usually kind of an epiphany type thing. But I try and really embrace whenever those moments happen and make time, make space for me to sit down and write.

Where have you been drawing musical inspiration from lately?

I think after I settle down and transition back into my daily life, I’m going to pull a lot of inspiration from the journey I’ve been on with American Idol. It’s funny, the songs I was writing before Idol happened, I had one song called, “Crash Course to Hollywood.” That song was just about me coming to terms with after college I wanted to pursue music and give it a shot for a couple of years. So that’s where that song came from, and of course any kind of relationship that I’ve had. I’m single right now, so it’s kind of been this whole transition out of college is where I’ve been drawing my inspiration lately.

Very cool, now switching gears over to Idol, you tried out in L.A., right?

I did. I actually tried out on MySpace.

That makes a little more sense to me, because when I was looking back at your journey on the show prior to talking to you today, I was wondering why you had tried out in L.A., because you’re not from L.A.

Yeah, that’s funny, because they went through Austin. I actually tried out for Idol three years ago when they went through Omaha. I hadn’t really figured out who I was as an artist, and I hadn’t had as near the amount of performance experience on stage. I was really nervous and the audition didn’t go very well. I was kind of content on not trying out ever again. Someone I respected, who also plays music, called me up and said, ‘Hey, they’re doing MySpace auditions. You might as well send in a webcam video.’

Had you been a fan of the show before trying out?

Was I an Idol fan? Um…no. [laughs] Especially if you play music, and I was booking my own shows and recording my record, you kind of look at that show and go, ‘That’s not fair. Those people are getting all this free exposure,’ and here I am working my tail off.

I never really watched [the show]. I wasn’t the biggest Idol fan. But now after going through it, it’s so legit. The people that they have working with you are incredible.
Continue reading Catching Up With Tim Halperin, Part One

Idol Wired >> The Top 12 Guys Kick Off the Semifinals

I have to be honest, the Top 12 guys made me fairly excited for this season of American Idol. After the show ended tonight, I felt better about this show than I have all season long.

The guys, who pre-taped their performances on February 25, brought a lot to the main stage, including big stage jitters and every so often, some talent.

Up first was the Hollywood round bad boy himself, Clint Jun Gamboa. Gamboa chose to sing Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” This song needs to locked away with Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now),” and Elton John’s “Dont’ Let The Sun Go Down on Me,” and never be allowed to be performed on Idol again. “Superstition” has not done any favors for contestants in the past couple seasons.

Gamboa’s vocals were nothing special. At this point of the competition, the contestants should be showing the audience why the judges picked them. I think Gamboa failed to prove the judges’ point with his performance. Of course, based on their praise of his performance, one had to wonder what concoction had been mixed in their Coca Cola cups.

Gamboa picked an overused song that I believe will send both him and his Harry Potter eyewear packing. He will be the boy who didn’t live to see the finals.

Next up was Jovany Barreto, who performed Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be.” For someone who exudes so much personality on his Twitter account, this was such a boring song selection.

I must say for the most part Barreto had an okay vocal; I did really like his final note. He was met with a divided judges’ panel. Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez loved him, whereas I sided with Randy Jackson, who found the song to be “karaoke.”

I am not entirely sure what possessed Jordan Dorsey to pick one of the most obnoxious and auto-tuned songs to sing in the semifinals. His performance of Usher’s “OMG” made me just cringe. From his vocals to his outfit, OMG indeed.
Continue reading Idol Wired >> The Top 12 Guys Kick Off the Semifinals

Idol Wired >> Hollywood Drama

This week’s episodes of American Idol were packed with talent, tears, and drama that make “Hollywood Week” the must-see episodes of the season. It also lets you see a very real side to the contestants. However, seeing some of the contestant’s candidness was not always very flattering. In other words, Clint Jun Gambia, dude you’re toast. But we’ll get to him in just a bit.

Idol chose to mix it up this year with the group rounds. Contestants had make up their group with participants from both group one and group two from the first round of “Hollywood Week” auditions.

Remember the days of Idol when contestants would just group up and make it work? Yeah, that wasn’t flying this week. Contestants were making other contestants audition to get into their groups. It’s a brilliant move, but at times just seemed kind of rude.

I have also never seen so much footage of parents in Hollywood with their underage child/Idol contestant. I think they should have let their kids work a little more independently on their group routine and wait to be asked for pointers, but a couple of these moms were a little too much to handle.

James Durbin (totally over him, by the way) weighed in on the stage moms, and told the cameras that there shouldn’t be young kids in the competition. Really showed a little bit of a cocky side to him. I think he was just jealous that the group of teens were about to wipe the floor with his group, as they were both performing Queen’s “Somebody To Love.”

A quick word of advice to Mr. Durbin: You really need to stop inserting the screechy note into every one of your performances. It’s not necessary. But if you’re going to repeat the path of Siobhan Magnus and toss that note in during each of your performances, you should aim to be on key.

I think the biggest foul of the group rounds was Clint Jum Gambia kicking young Jacee Badeaux out of his group in favor of Scotty McCreery. Gambia didn’t think that Badeaux’s voice fit with the rest of the group, so he sent him on his way. Badeaux ended up joining up with Brett Loewenstern’s group.

If Gambia makes it past the Las Vegas round next week into the Top 24 where the viewers vote, I don’t think he has a chance in hell making it to the main stage. He completely shot himself in the foot by kicking Badeaux out of his group. Plus, he’s managed to come off as completely obnoxious this week. Good work, Gambia.
Continue reading Idol Wired >> Hollywood Drama

Idol Wired >> The San Francisco Treat

Since I spend a good portion of my week in San Francisco, you can imagine that I was excited to see how the American Idol auditions went in the city by the bay.

In case you had forgotten, Idol reminded us that Adam Lambert had initially auditioned in San Francisco. Aw, remember the days when Idol would find ridiculous amounts of talent? (Psst…seasons seven and eight, I miss you!)

It’s not that the singers shown weren’t talented, it’s just that they don’t seem as quality as prior contestants. I personally was looking to be wowed by the contestants and that definitely didn’t happen during the San Francisco auditions.

What I appreciated about this particular episode of auditions was that more good auditions were shown overall. And of course there were enough sob stories to fill the hour-long episode, but being that this was the last night of auditions, I was expecting them.

I really didn’t have any personal favorites from this set of auditions. However, there were a couple singers that I am looking forward to hearing from during the “Hollywood Week” round.

Matthew Ness from Huntington Beach, CA had some amazing big notes during his audition. Steven Tyler called the 25-year-old, “a diamond in the rough.”

Stefano Langone, the 21-year-old from Kent, WA sang Marvin Gaye’s, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.” He has a Bruno Mars quality to his voice. Very smooth vocal.
Continue reading Idol Wired >> The San Francisco Treat

Idol Wired >> Is The Torture Over, Yet?

When I first sat down to talk American Idol, I had just the worst migraine, which was caused by the auditions in Los Angeles that aired last night.

No, I’m not kidding. The L.A. auditions were by far the worst auditions that I have ever taken the time to sit and watch. I seriously want that hour of my life back.

This is season 10 of American Idol. I expected better than Thursday night’s episode. I guess I should have known better.

Before I get ahead of myself, let’s talk about Wednesday night’s auditions in Austin, TX. Even though the episode was so much better than the L.A. auditions, there were only a couple singers that I would consider being actual contenders in this season’s competition. Those singers are 21-year-old Jaqueline Dunford from Scottsdale, AZ and 19-year-old Casey Abrams from Idlywild, CA.

Jaqueline Dunford auditioned for the show with her boyfriend, 19-year-old Nick Flint. Dunford, who sang Duffy’s “Mercy” was in my opinion the best of the female singers in the Austin. She took that Duffy song and really in the ridiculous words of Randy Jackson, “blew it out the box.” I really like the tone of her voice, and appreciated her demonstration of vocal control.

My other favorite from Austin, Casey Abrams sang “I Don’t Need No Docter” by Ray Charles. This dude can sing. And scat. I love it! I am sensing a trend with the male singers with the soulful, raspy voices this season, but Abrams infused his audition with so much personality, that he set a nice tone for himself going into “Hollywood Week.”

The L.A. auditions episode that aired Thursday night was hands down the worst episode of Idol I’ve ever watched, and I’m saying this as someone who watched the train wreck known as season three in its entirety.
Continue reading Idol Wired >> Is The Torture Over, Yet?

Idol Wired >> NOLA Has Talent!

American Idol headed to New Orleans for the next batch of auditions, and to my delight there was talent to be found! Now, we’re not talking like an overabundance of talent, but there were a few good voices that left me overall feeling pretty good.

My personal favorites from the auditions in New Orleans were Brett Loewenstern, Jacee Badeaux, and Sarah Sellers.

Sixteen-year-old Brett Loewenstern from Boca Raton, FL sang Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” His voice is fantastic. The kid has got some pipes. Plus, he has this crazy awesome curly red hair. His look and his voice don’t seem like they would match up, but that’s what we all said about Clay Aiken back in season two. I like contestants like Loewenstern, because just when we are ready to judge a book by it’s cover, they just go ahead and surprise the heck out of you.

Another one of the contestants that I really enjoyed was 15-year-old Jacee Badeaux from Lafayette, LA. He sang Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.” His voice is incredible for his age. That said, Badeaux being all of 15-years-old makes me wonder what happens if he goes far in the competition and his voice starts changing? I don’t know how well that would work in his favor.

I am concerned about Badeaux’s age. I’m not sure if lowering the age limit for Idol auditions was the best decision. I see the show’s motive behind it. They’re definitely looking for the Idol this year to be the next big thing. Badeaux just seems like a sweet kid, and I truly fear that he’s going to buckle under the pressure and stress of “Hollywood Week.” I know there have been younger contestants on the show before, including season six’s winner Jordin Sparks, who won when she was 17-years-old, but somehow they seemed a little more mentally prepared and ready to be thrust into the Idol machine.
Continue reading Idol Wired >> NOLA Has Talent!

‘Idol’ Contestant Luke James: “Third time’s a charm!”

I was browsing the videos at AmericanIdol.com of contestants that have made it through to Hollywood and came across a familiar face from last season, Luke James.

Check out his season nine audition below.

Luke was an early favorite of mine last season, I was super bummed when he didn’t make the Top 24 during “Hollywood Week.” The guy is super talented and I am stoked that he’s back on the show this season. I would really love to see him make at least the semi-finals.

Here is Luke covering Bruno Mars’ “Grenade.”

Yeah, another guy with a guitar. I obviously have a type. ;) But, on a serious note, he’s pretty talented, and his voice is really radio friendly. You can see more performance videos of Luke at his YouTube channel.

Check out Luke’s interview with AmericanIdol.com where he talks about why he decided to try out for Idol again!

Idol Wired: New Judges: So Far, So Good!

American Idol has returned! I have to say, I’ve been quite hesitant about season 10. I am not someone who is fond of change, so with Simon Cowell leaving last season and Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez coming on board this go ’round, I have been very skeptical about how well season 10 could go.

Good news, I think Idol has a fighting chance at being pretty entertaining this year. I’m really happy the judges seem to be taking this season seriously for the most part.

To be honest, I haven’t watched the audition rounds prior to “Hollywood Week” since around season five. I really don’t like the bad auditions. I feel like the show wastes a lot of time on them, but tonight’s premiere seemed to have a good balance between good and bad auditions.

I definitely feel like Steven Tyler is going to be the fan favorite. The man is crazy and it will make for good TV. The censors at FOX are going to have a field day with him when the show goes live in a couple months.

Jennifer Lopez was disappointing at first, because it felt like all you had to do was cry in front of her and she’d let you through to the next round.

I think she’s definitely going to be the nurturer on the judging panel like Paula Abdul was. I think Lopez has a lot of empathy for the contestants, but she is going to have to learn how to utilize the word “no.”

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that Randy Jackson is over the moon about being in Simon’s old spot on the panel? You know he just couldn’t wait until it was his turn to give the final word.

I think Jackson is really trying harder to put his foot down, but with Lopez wanting to let everyone through, he’s kind of just letting her walk all over him. Part of me wonders if he was just doing that because it was their first day of auditions. Another part of me wonders if he’s going to be a pushover all season, because the star power on the panel wants to have all the say.

As far as contestants go, there were only a couple that really stuck out to me right away.

Fifteen-year-old Kenzie Palmer sang Carrie Underwood’s “Young and Beautiful.” In my opinion, I thought she had a strong audition. She’s got a fantastic voice and has a good chance to do well in the competition.

The other contestant that stood out to me was 16-year-old Robbie Rosen. He sang The Beatles’ “Yesterday.” It was a clean vocal. He’s got a good voice for pop music. Steven Tyler said that Rosen was “the best of New Jersey.”

Overall, I felt pretty underwhelmed by most of the talent. I think once “Hollywood Week” rolls around, that’s where we’ll start seeing the talent.

One thing the premiere was not light on was sob stories. There was the contestant whose father had cancer and the girl from Kosovo. The episode wrapped with the kid who had been living in a shelter with his family.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for learning more about the contestants, but I would rather hear them sing first before I learn their back stories. I think once a contestant has made it past “Hollywood Week” and is going to be around for a while, that’s when I want to hear their interests and whatever stories they have to share. I feel like the beginning rounds should be influenced by talent only.

So Idol fans, what did you think about the season 10 premiere of American Idol? How are you feeling about the judges? And what contestant stood out to you during the New York/New Jersey auditions?

Originally posted at BlogCritics.

Idol Wired >> Five Changes I Hope to See During ‘American Idol’s’ Tenth Season

It was a long summer, fall and start of winter, but American Idol is back for their tenth season and I am ready! New judges, new contestants, and a new feature! Welcome to “Idol Wired”!

Alright, so my favorite reality show that drives me crazy on a weekly basis from this Wednesday through the end of May is back, and I came up with what changes that I would like to see this season as American Idol turns 10.

Keep the spotlight on the contestants

There have been shake-ups at the judges’ table since season eight, which have garnered much more attention than deserved. I think once the initial shock of the new faces at the judges’ table wears off this season, the show needs to adjust it’s attention back to it’s contestants.

I think one way to do this is to show more of the contestant’s personality in the pre-performance videos. Last season we learned that Lee DeWyze worked at a paint store. What we didn’t learn is that he’s fairly hilarious. Most fans learned this during the summer Idol tour meeting him before and after the shows.

I think over the past couple seasons, the audience really hasn’t been able to connect with the contestants, which is in part why last season wasn’t as successful as previous seasons.

Judges should be clear and concise with their post-performance critiques

I think the judge’s critiques on Idol should be like Twitter. You need to get out what you want to say about the contestant’s performance in 140 characters or less. I feel that the judges should be able to let the contestants know if they liked or disliked the performance with a reason backing their opinion in a reasonable amount of time. Plus, if the judges didn’t talk so much it could allow for slightly longer performances from the contestants.

No more lip-syncing during the group numbers

One of the things that bothered me during both seasons eight and nine of Idol was the very apparent lip-syncing during the group numbers. I know that a lot of the time they pre-tape the group performances before the live elimination, which means there really isn’t any excuse for not singing live. I don’t care if they have to auto-tune the crap out of the vocals, but singing live would be more legit than shooting a live music video.
Continue reading Idol Wired >> Five Changes I Hope to See During ‘American Idol’s’ Tenth Season

Brooke White and Randy Jackson Discuss Their Upcoming TV Movie, ‘Change of Plans’

You probably best remember Brooke White as the lovable and talented folk-pop singer-songwriter from American Idol season seven, winning you over every week with performances like “Let It Be” and “You’ve Got a Friend.” White is making her acting debut in the movie Change of Plans, which is apart of FOX’s Family Movie Night, airing this Saturday at 8 p.m.

White plays Sally Danville, a singer-songwriter married to fighter-pilot, Jason (Joe Flanigan). She learns that her best friend from college died while serving in the Peace Corps; on top of that, Sally also learns that she has been named the legal guardian of her friend’s four kids, three of whom were adopted from third-world countries. Sally and Jason have to adapt quickly into parenting, learning how a change of plans sometimes becomes something better than they could have imagined for their lives.

Earlier this week during a conference call, White and the movie’s soundtrack producer, American Idol judge Randy Jackson, discussed  Change of Plans, the lack of hit songs coming from the Idol winners and former contestants, and what’s in store for the tenth season of American Idol.

White explained that she had not set out to do any acting in her post-Idol career, and the opportunity for the movie came out of nowhere. She said that she was “shipped off to Toronto” for filming within a couple days after being cast in Change of Plans. She was initially nervous on set, but was soon bit by the acting bug. The hardest part of her new gig? The wake-up calls.

“What can I say was the hardest part about acting? Probably my 4:30 a.m. pick up every day. That was probably the hardest part. I have to say, there were certain technical aspects I wasn’t super savvy to, but other than that it felt super natural just to get in,” she said.

“I think I was concerned [about memorizing lines]. I’ve been known to forget lyrics here or there. I was worried I would forget a line or two. But really, it wasn’t a big deal, you get in there, memorizing the dialogue isn’t a big deal when you get there. I thought it was more fun, than hard.”

White mentioned that she had just watched Change of Plans a couple days ago, and experienced what she called the “answering machine syndrome,” while listening to herself talk during the movie.

Continue reading Brooke White and Randy Jackson Discuss Their Upcoming TV Movie, ‘Change of Plans’