Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls – A Review



“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” So began the original “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” (from Quirk Classics), an expanded edition of the classic Regency romance, now with ultraviolent zombie mayhem. ‘PPZ’ is a delightful literary mash-up, combining the timeless love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy with an unstoppable army of the walking dead. I’ll be the first to admit that I was never a fan of Jane Austen’s romantic comedy novel (please forgive me, Miss Boggs), but when you throw in some zombies… I mean ‘unmentionables’ (one doesn’t use the Zed word in polite company)… you have to wonder why no one thought of this before. It’s an idea of pure genius: Take a masterpiece of classic literature that isn’t for everyone, add in a popular genre element (while staying faithful to the source material), and you get a bonafide international pop culture phenomenon that you actually want to read.

“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls” (by Steve Hockensmith) is a prequel set four years before the horrific events of ‘PPZ’. Four years before Jane Bennet caught the eye of Mr. Bingley, and four years before the verbal sparring of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. As the story opens, the Bennet sisters enjoy a peaceful life in the English countryside and know nothing of the ‘dreadfuls’ or the ‘deadly arts’, but all of that is about to change due to shocking events during a funeral at the local parish. “Walking out in the middle of a funeral would be, of course, bad form. So attempting to walk out on one’s own would be beyond the pale.” Soon, corpses are climbing out of the earth, and there’s only one family that can stop them. Witness the birth of a heroine as Elizabeth Bennet transforms from a naïve teenager into a savage, yet disciplined, warrior. Of course, it wouldn’t be a ‘Pride and Prejudice’ story if there wasn’t romance. Elizabeth attracts the attention of two suitors: Master Hawksworth – the powerful warrior tasked with training the Bennet girls, and Dr. Keckilpenny – the man who believes he can defeat the dreadful with science instead of strength. Can either man win Elizabeth’s heart? Or will their hearts be part of the feast for the army of the undead?

To all the Jane Austen purists out there, I can promise you that these books are not blasphemy. Each character is true to how you know and love them. To all the readers out there that would never EVER pick up a Jane Austen book, you should give these a chance. This isn’t your usual ‘classic’ literature. Never has Regency England been more fun. “Dawn of the Dreadfuls” has everything one could want in a book: comedy, action, romance… and zombies. What’s not to love?

For more information on “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls”, visit (

Also, visit ( and mention that you heard about “Dawn of the Dreadfuls” from “S.J.’s Guide to Life” and you’ll be entered to win one of 50 Quirk Classics Prize Packs, each with a retail value of more than $100. Each pack includes:

· An advance copy of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls”

· Audio Books of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” and “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters”

· A password redeemable online for sample audio chapters from “Dawn of the Dreadfuls”

· An awesome “Dawn of the Dreadfuls” poster

· A “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” journal

· A box set of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” postcards

Also check out:

Quirk Classics website (

“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” (

“Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters” (

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American Idol – Finale (Results Show)

Good Evening, America! This is it! The Final Showdown! In a little over 2 hours we’ll find out which person, Adam Lambert-Martin or Kris Allen, will be crowned this year’s winner! I know I’ve been obsessing the past few months about this show… and my favorite contestant, and I’m sure some of you are ready for it to be done. I can promise everyone that it will all be done after tonight… well, after tomorrow morning, because I know at work we’ll either be having mini celebratory dances or a bitch-fest. But after that… all done. Promise. Till then, on with the show. This… is American Idol!

I’m beyond nervous and excited. If I could fast-forward through time and just get to the results, I would. I’m not one for delayed gratification. At all.

Seacrest tells us that just under 100 million votes came in, bringing our season total to a record-setting 624 million votes. (I can personally account for 500 of those votes last night. My fingers about fell off by the time I was done texting. No matter the outcome tonight, thanks to all who voted for Adam yesterday. It is greatly appreciated.) We are treated to clips of the Judges’ sage comments throughout the season: Randy constantly saying “For me”, Kara saying “Honey” and “Sweetie”, Paula and her jumble of words thanks to Paula’s Wheel of Random Emotion, and Simon rarely paying attention. Honestly, I wish they would have shown how many times Kara said, “here’s the thing”.

Seacrest brings out the finalists, and they are both dressed in white. (Needless to say, Adam Lambert-Martin pulls it off better.) We join Mikalah Gordon live in Conway, Arkansas with Kris’s fans. (Mikalah appears to have stolen Lisa Rinna’s lips.) In San Diego for Adam, we have the amazing Carly Smithson. Love her accent!

Our Top 13 kick off our 2 hours of filler performances with “So What” by Pink. Per usual, they are dressed in their Up With People white outfits. ( I love this song so much! Not their performance of course, but the song in general. The choreography is hysterical, and it seems more like the rejects from a show choir than our Top 13. (They could take a lesson from the cast of “Glee”.) This does not bode well for the group performances on the tour. They are having a great time together, so I guess that makes up for some of it… but not all.

David Cook is here to perform “Permanent”. If you haven’t heard, David Cook’s brother recently lost his battle with cancer. “Permanent” will be available on iTunes after the show, and all the proceeds will go to ABCSquared, which is a cancer foundation. It’s a good song. Everyone should go download it. For a little over $1, we can all do something to help in the fight against cancer.

Now it’s time for the annual Golden Idol Awards, one of the most mean spirited awards on TV. The first award is for Outstanding Male. Without evening seeing the nominees, I knew this would go to Norman Gentle. He strips off his outfit to reveal his shorts and shiny shirts and sings “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” one more time. This was funny the first few times. Now, not so much. I believe his 15 minutes are official up.

Our first Pro/Am duet of the evening is Queen Latifah and Lil Rounds with “Cue the Rain”. It’s better than we’ve seen Lil since the early rounds. Lil needs to be part of some Destiny’s Child-like girl group, because she sounds so much better when she’s singing with someone else. Their harmonies are excellent.

2nd Pro/Am collaboration is Jason Mraz with Anoop Desai and Alexis Grace singing “I’m Yours”. I really wish Kris had done this during the season or this had been his duet tonight. I need to say how much I hate Anoop’s poor attempt at growing facial hair. And Alexis looks like the love child of Tinkerbell and a hooker. The performance itself is wonderful. Oh, and the other also-rans join them for back-up vocals.

Now we have “The Journey of Kris Allen”. Since I’m sure most of you watched this season, I’ll spare you (and myself) the details. Our 3rd Pro/Am song is Kris Allen and Keith Urban (Mr. Nicole Kidman) with “Kiss A Girl”. They sound amazing together, and are rocking their guitars. What a great duet.

Our Tops Girls sing “Glamorous” by Fergie. Meghan Joy reminds us exactly why she got kicked off when she did. Before too long, our girls are joined by Fergie herself for a rendition of “Big Girls Don’t Cry”. (Oooh, black hair. Didn’t expect that.) Then our Idols depart the stage for the Black Eyed Peas to sing their new single “Boom Boom Pow”. This song has really grown on me.

Back to the Golden Idol Awards. This time for Best Attitude. Again, this goes hands down to Bikini Girl, Katrina. She struts onstage in her bikini, and she bought two new toys since the last time we saw her. Bikini Girl gets to sing “Vision of Love” one more time, and it’s worse than her audition, if that’s possible. (I strongly dislike this girl. She makes me want to set her on fire.) But before it can get any worse, Kara appears onstage behind her, surprising her, and joins her on the song, proving once and for all that Kara can sing it better. All Bikini Girl can do is stand there and looks stupid in her bikini. (That may be her only marketable skill.) During the final note, Kara unbuttons her dress revealing her own bikini. Apparently, Simon/Randy/Ryan bet Kara she wouldn’t wear a bikini on the show, and since she did, they have to donate a lot of money to her favorite charity. For once, I actually like Ms. Dioguardi. (I’m sure the feeling will pass.)

We’re at the halfway mark, and I’m starting to get really nervous. Our 4th Pro/Am song is “Time After Time” with Allison Iraheta and Cyndi Lauper. So very cool. They both sound wonderful, and it’s very cool that Cyndi is playing some sort of lap guitar. It only gets better on their chorus harmony. It’s gorgeous, and it’s inspired. Love it!

Danny Gokey time. He’s singing “Hello”. I got bored and began texting, and the next thing I know Lionel Ritchie is onstage singing “Just Go” with Danny Karaoke. They transition into “All Night Long”, and I will pay attention to this. No matter how much time goes by, I still love this song.

Adam Lambert-Martin is singing “Beth” by KISS. He’s got a very KISS-like outfit on, and it suits him. The song is subdued and absolutely wonderful. Just when I think it’s over, KISS is dropped from the ceiling in a waterfall of fire and sparks. How cool is that! They do “Detroit Rock City” and “Rock and Roll All Night”. This might be the best Pro/Am collaboration of any Idol season. They blend so well. It’s perfection. I’m honestly speechless. This is just too cool for words. I had to watch it again. Adam’s note at the end was flawless. Loved it!

Carlos Santana is performing “Black Magic Woman”… all by himself. Are we to assume that Carlos Santana is just too cool to be forced to perform with any Idols? Oh, no, I’m mistaken, there’s Matt Giraud… and his hat. The other Idols take the stage to sing “Smooth”, my favorite Santana collaboration song EVER. (Big sweeping hand motion!) Note to Danny Karaoke, please no crotch thrusting. This is a family show. (Oh, there’s Heather Locklear! I heart her!)

The final Ford Music Video is “I Will Remember You” by Kris and Adam. It shows clips from all the previous videos. It sounds amazing. This should be put as a single on iTunes. Then David Cook surprises Adam and Kris with their own 2010 Ford Fusion Hybirds. Very nice.

Steve Martin (not me, the other one that stole my name and is constantly trying to steal my spotlight) is here, but he’s forced to perform with Megan Joy and Michael Sarver. Hey Idol Producers! What did Steve Martin ever do to you, huh? The performance is okay, but “rough” would be the best way to describe the whole thing.

Our Top Guys take the stage now to sing “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”. The answer to most of you would be NO. Rod Stewart (Did I ever tell you that my mom used to date Rod Stewart?) joins the Idols to sing “Maggie May”. Is it just me, or is Rod Stewart drunk? Paula, thoughts? You’re the expert here. (I kid.)

I’m watching the show live tonight so that I find out who is our American Idol when it happens. After having the DVR for so long, I forgot how much I loathe live TV. This is killing me.

Our last Golden Idol Award is for Outstanding Female. Raise your hand if you didn’t know this would go to Tatiana Del Toro. No one? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Love that she stole the microphone and ran off and kept shrugging off the stage hands while continuing to sing. Oh, at least she was always entertaining. (She totally reminds me of the diva in the show choir on “Glee”.)

Before we get to the results, we get an Adam/Kris duet to “We Are The Champions”. Such an appropriate song for tonight. And I love, love, LOVE that they brought out the remains of Queen to play and the gospel choir to sing back up. Another truly inspired and amazing performance. Before it ends, Kris and Adam join hands, teach the world to sing, give everyone a Coke, and peace is declared in the Middle East! I knew this show was powerful, but wow! For once, I’m not mad at all about all the filler while we wait for the results. This was a helluva show!

This is it! The moment of truth! (I can’t take it. My heart is beating out of my chest. I think I’m going to vomit.) After nearly 100 million votes, the winner of American Idol 2009 is… Kris Allen?? Coffee House Kris? You’ve got to be effing kidding me!! Seriously? This isn’t a joke? For once, I honestly have no words… or at least no words that I can type here. (It’s a moment like this that I’m glad I never throw away old or chipped glasses. I’ll be right back. I need to go outside to scream and break something.) The anger and disappointment I feel right now has eased slightly due to the tapestry of obscenities that I have woven that will forever hang over Ohio. All day long, I had a feeling this was going to happen. I kept saying that America wasn’t ready to vote for someone like Adam, that Kris was the safer vote for conservative Middle America, and if Adam lost, tonight’s result had nothing to do with who was more talented or deserving. Usually, I enjoy being right, but this isn’t one of those times.

Well, that’s our show for tonight and for the season. I think I’m going to have to take a lesson from my Adam Lambert-Martin and be happy for Kris. It’s not that I dislike him. That’s not it at all. He’s a very talented singer, and we’ll be able to enjoy watching him perform at coffee shops all across the country. (I kid.) It’s just my opinion that someone else should have won *cough* Adam *cough*, and since this is my blog, it’s only my opinion that counts. I know that Adam will have a phenomenal career, and maybe by not winning, this will give him the chance to make the album he wants to make. (Also excited for Allison’s cd!) Ooooh, I just realized the upside to all this: Kris has to release that craptastic song “No Boundaries” and Adam doesn’t! Ha ha ha! In conclusion, thanks to all of you who followed along this season, and extra thanks to those of you who voted for my Adam Lambert-Martin. As much as I threatened to never watch the show again if Adam lost, I know I was lying. I’ll see you back here next Spring. Same Steve Time. Same Steve Channel.

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American Idol – Finale (Performance Show)

Good Evening, America! This is it! Tonight is the last night for our Final 2 to perform. This is the last night for them to court your votes. This is the last night where I’ll show my complete and total bias for Adam Lambert-Martin… okay, next to last night. Whatever way you look at it, this is a big night. It’s more excitement than I can stand… which is why I’m sitting. This… is American Idol!

Seacrest tells us that tonight is the battle of: the Acoustic Rocker versus the Glam Rocker, Conway versus California, the Guy Next Door versus the Guyliner. He might as well have just said: Good versus Evil or Straight versus Gay, because that seems to be what all internet discussions/hateful comments have come down to. Kris is talented, but at the same time he is a safe and comfortable choice for Middle America. Adam is talent personified, but he himself is quite polarizing. It really will be interesting how this all plays out tomorrow… and in the media.

Each contestant will be singing 3 songs: their favorite performance of the season, one song chosen by the show creator Simon Fuller, and the Winner’s Single co-written by Kara Dioguardi. Seacrest warns us now to set the DVR to record past 10:00, because they already plan to run long. Thanks for the heads up, Shortstuff!

***Round 1: Personal Choice

Adam Lambert-Martin is up first with “Mad World”, my favorite performance of his from this season. (Look, we both agree this is our favorite. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.) There’s a teal glow back-lighting him as he slowly descends a staircase. His voice is wonderfully subdued. Adam’s dressed like he stepped right out of “Twilight”, which if anyone knows me, they know that I automatically love it. His performance is deliciously chilling.

Kris Allen is singing “Ain’t No Sunshine”. He’s at the piano instead of the keyboard this time, and it makes it so much better. It’s got a soulful and intimate feel. I can’t deny that it’s a beautiful performance. I have nothing negative to say about it.

Simon calls Round 1 for Kris. I tend to disagree. At best, I would call this round a draw.

***Round 2: Simon Fuller’s Choice

Adam Lambert-Martin is singing “Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. The “Twilight” coat is gone. In its place is a stylish gray suit. Adam starts the song with a few notes acapella, and then is very subdued again on the first verse. (I’m hoping this is just so he can ramp it up and kill it at the end.) In a minute, he begins to tear it up, and it’s a signature Adam Lambert performance. That last note… wow! Loved it!

Kris Allen is singing “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye. He’s rocking the acoustic guitar, and we’re back to Coffee House Kris. (This is why I don’t think he should win. We’ve already got two of him on the music scene right now: John Mayer and Jason Mraz.) It’s very nice, but just middle-of-the-road vocally. I think it’s too laid back for the finale.

Round 2 goes to Adam Lambert-Martin!

***Round 3: Winner’s Single – “No Boundaries”

Adam Lambert-Martin is the first Idol to sing “No Boundaries” by Kara Dioguardi, Cathy Dennis, and Mitch Allan. I have to say that it’s on par with most finale songs, but it took 3 people to write this? Kara, you’ve disappointed me more than usual. Climbing mountains? Weathering

hurricanes? Seriously? At least it gives Adam a chance to show off his upper range (and his shiny pants). It’s not my favorite song for Adam, but I think he did well with what he had.

Kris Allen is closing Round 3 with his version of the craptastic “No Boundaries”. The verse sounds great on Kris’s voice, but the chorus does not. The song is definitely out of his range. I’m shocked he didn’t bring it down a key. When Kris does the song, compared to Adam, it sounds more like the typical Idol Finale song. It lost any of the spark Adam gave it.

Well, that’s our show for tonight. (Oh, and Carrie Underwood sang. So not focused on that right now. Must text for Adam.) Kris Allen definitely did an amazing job on “Ain’t No Sunshine”, but as a whole, I think Adam Lambert-Martin won the night. We’ll see how the votes go down. If you haven’t voted yet, and you are reading this while the lines are still open, PLEASE VOTE FOR ADAM!!! Only one more day of me obsessing about this, promise! Tune in tomorrow night to see who wins. (Please let it be Adam!) Same Steve Time. Same Steve Channel.

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American Idol – Final 3 (Results Show)

Good Evening, America! This is a severely important night for Idol. Tonight determines which 2 contestants will duke it out next week to take home the title. There has been a lot of talk all day that it’s too close to call. Is Adam Lambert-Martin a lock for the Final 2? Did Kris Allen do enough last night with his phenomenal performance of “Heartless” to save himself? Are people finally tired of Danny Gokey? All those questions and more will be answered tonight. This… is American Idol!

We start the show with a plug for “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”. If you haven’t seen the first one, I suggest you rent it. I didn’t see it when it was in theatres and ended up watching it this winter. Turns out it’s really funny. Who knew? As for the bit about the Idol desk being in the Smithsonian, overall it was funny too. I heart Ben Stiller.

Seacrest tells us there were 88 million votes last night and that only 1 million votes separated the Top 2. What that tells me is that the Top 2 got a crap ton of votes, and the 3rd person… not so much. (I’ll regret that joke later if Adam is the one to go home.) Jordan Sparks and Katy Perry are both here with us tonight.

Ford Music Video set to “Break My Stride”. Our guys are walking down the street, when all of the sudden… they are savagely torn to bits by rabid dogs! Okay, so Adam turned the world into a giant beige cartoon and threw a steak for the dogs to chase… but my idea was much cooler. Then the guys get into a convertible just as nasty storm clouds form overhead. Thankfully, Beige Cartoon Kris has an allergic reaction that causes his body to swell up, but also gives him the power to blow away the clouds. Whew! That was a close one. Just when things look pleasant, the guys run into a traffic jam. Have no fear, Creepy Cartoon Danny grows tentacles and pushes the cars out of the way. He looks just as pleased with himself as if he had just butchered an Aerosmith song. Ahh, and then they drive off into the sunset. Warm fuzzies all around.

Alicia Keys comes on stage to tell us all about the good works of Idol Strikes Back. I fast-forwarded through most of it, but some child from Rwanda came here to sing. I’m sure it was wonderful.

Before we can get to the results, it’s time to join the Final 3 as they travel back home for parades and whatnot. Danny Gokey is up first for his trip to Milwaukee, which includes: screaming people, the local news, screaming people, radio show, limo ride, screaming people, Jamar (yay!), screaming people, crazy woman in a sparkly dress/pj pants/feather boa, parade, screaming people, Mountie, crying Danny, performance under the highway, screaming people, mayor, screaming people, Brewers game first pitch, and more screaming people.

Kris Allen is next for his trip home. Kris’s video goes: screaming people, local news, screaming kids, limo ride, radio show, performance in an amphitheater on a river, screaming little girls that terrify me, parents’ house, crying dad, performance at his college, parade, pretty wife, baby, scary women in green wigs, screaming girls, performance in a park, Mayor, crying family, words of thanks, and more screaming people.

Jordan Sparks, the winner from Season 6, is here to sing “Battlefield” her new single. She looks amazing! I like this song. It has the feel of one of those songs that will grow on you the more you hear it.

Adam Lambert-Martin joins Ryan on stage to go over his trip him, which included: limo, local news, screaming people, snakeskin boots, screaming people, signing a guitar, radio show, screaming little girls and one old dude who wants Adam to sign his polo shirt, limo, more screaming girls, theatre group for kids, adorable little boy, limo, high school parade, cheerleaders, Mayor, streaker, screaming girls, and a National Anthem performance.

Before we can get to any actual content tonight, Katy Perry is here to sing “Waking Up in Vegas”. A lot of people don’t like her or her music, but I find her thoroughly enjoyable. (I love her cd.) Katy comes on stage dressed like a cross between Elvis and Wonder Woman with Adam Lambert’s name embroidered on her cape. (See, I knew I liked her.) She’s not the best live singer, but she makes up for it with her charisma. I think Ms. Katy Perry is just as adorable as can be.

With 4 minutes left to go in the show, we finally get to the results. The first person in the finale is… Kris Allen. (I’m okay with this, but now I’m getting very nervous for my Adam. I have moved any glass objects or anything remotely breakable out of arm’s reach, because I really don’t want smash something during an anger-fueled tantrum.) The other person in the finale is… ADAM LAMBERT-MARTIN!!!! (So excited right now, you have no idea! This calls for a celebration dance break! I think Paula’s new single “I’m Just Here for the Music” is appropriate.) Kara seems upset that Danny is going home, which means she was rooting for him over my Adam, which proves once again just how stupid she is. (Maybe this could be Kara’s one and only season. I’d be okay with that.) If Allison couldn’t be here to be in the finals with Adam, I’m glad that it’s Kris. (Still would have preferred Allison.)

Well, that’s our show for tonight. Somewhat shocking results. Had my fingers crossed all day that Adam would be in the finals, and even though my Hoops & Yoyo Fortune Teller told me he would be, I was still nervous. I truly expected Danny to be the other person in the finals with Adam, but I’m glad it’s Kris. Next week will definitely be interesting. I’m going to ask you all to do me a favor right now. Next Tuesday, could you please vote for Adam A LOT? For me? Thanks ever so much. Tune in again to see how it all goes down. Same Steve Time. Same Steve Channel.

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American Idol – Final 3 (Performance Show)

Good Evening, America! Here we are, down to the Final 3. In a season that sometimes felt longer than “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, we’re rapidly approaching the finale faster than Kara can say “Here’s the thing”. I know most of us are still mourning the loss of Allison Iraheta. I just keep telling myself that she’s only 17, and she’s got a bright future ahead of her. But we must not dwell on the past. With only one week to go before our winner is crowned, we must focus on the here and now. Because this… is American Idol!

Tonight, our Idols will be singing two songs. The first is a choice by the Judges. The second one is chosen by the Idols themselves. In seasons past, the Judges’ Choice songs have always been perfect selections for each contestant. (Can’t wait to see what they pick for Adam Lambert-Martin!)

First up tonight is Danny “I should have gone home last week” Gokey singing “Dance Little Sister” by Terence Trent D’arby, chosen by Paula. The song seems well suited to Danny’s gravelly voice. It’s up-tempo and fun, but he doesn’t seem to be veering away from the same four notes. Not a lot of range. Thankfully, that keeps him from repeating last week’s Screamfest ’09. It’s rough, and he keeps shouting. Fun way to kick off the show, but not exactly the way to tell America that you deserve to make it to the finale. (Though I’m sure his rabid fanbase will make sure he wins it all. Ugh.)

I interrupt this blog for a special announcement. While Seacrest is trying to read Gokey’s numbers, Simon is attempting to murder Paula. Kara can be heard screaming “Help! Help! Help!” in the background. Not to worry, Paula defended herself by dealing a deadly blow to Simon’s chest. His pec implants deflected the punch though.

Kris Allen is second with “Apologize” by One Republic, chosen by Randy and Kara. (How pissed do you think Randy is that he got stuck with the new girl?) This is an amazing song, and Kris could do something absolutely wonderful with it. Or he could do a complete sound-alike version… like he did. He’s behind the piano, which is a nice touch, but it just shows off how dirty his fingernails are. (If I were appearing before 30 million people, I might make the time to wash my hands, but that’s just me.) He’s not fantastic, but he’s not awful. It was too much like the original for my taste, and One Republic did it better.

Another side note. I completely disagree with Simon about the whole “Kara, you can’t call him out on doing the song when you chose it for him”. Kara chose a song that would work well for Kris’s vocal abilities, but it’s not up to her to arrange it for him and make it different. Mr. Allen should want to help himself stand out in the competition. Instead, he stayed middle of the road, once again.

Adam Lambert-Martin is third with “One” by U2, chosen by Simon. I’m not a huge U2 fan, but I’m willing to give this a listen since Adam’s singing it. I love how understated this performance is. Simple lighting. Piano on the stage. Adam just standing in the middle. His vocals are spot on, and the beauty of the lyrics can really shine. I really don’t think that there’s anything he can’t do. This was perfection. Simply brilliant. (When Adam told America to go back and listen to the lyrics, I think he was not-so-subtly telling the audience that the LGBT community deserves equal rights. Adam is publicly edging his toe out of the closet, ever so slowly.)

Danny Gokey is back to start Round 2 with “You Are So Beautiful” by Joe Cocker. I truly dislike this song. Always have. Danny’s sitting on a stool surrounded by just a few band members. His phrasing is subtle, and the performance is understated, just as it should be. This is more of him singing and less of him making noises while trying to pass a kidney stone. Much, much better than his first performance. (Not sure I would have gushed as much as the Judges though.)

Kris Allen is singing “Heartless” by Kanye West. I love this song! Interested to see what he’ll do with it. His acoustic take on this is very reminiscent of Mia Caruthers’s version on MTV’s “Taking the Stage” (which features some of the best and brightest at Cincinnati’s School for Creative and Performing Arts). This is so fresh and contemporary. I figured Kris would be an also-ran tonight, but after that performance, he has a real shot of making it to next week’s finale. Severely impressive!

Adam Lambert-Martin closes the show with “Cryin” by Aerosmith. (Note to Kara, this is not “classic” or “early” Aerosmith.) This is song is perfectly suited for Adam vocally. (The sound people seem to have turned up the back ground microphones a little too much for the chorus.) He’s not straying far from the original, but as he said, with a song like this, you don’t need to. (And no, that isn’t hypocritical of me to say that when I called out Kris on the same thing earlier. And do you know why it isn’t hypocritical? Because it’s my blog, and I said so.) There aren’t enough good things to say about my Adam.

Well, that’s our show for tonight. There were 3 truly spectacular performances. (And 2 of them were by Adam!) For Round 1, I think it went hands-down in favor of Adam. For Round 2, I think Kris Allen’s take on “Heartless” helped him barely edge out Adam. As for tomorrow night, I think it’s anyone’s guess. I would love to say that it will be Adam and someone else in the finale, but you never know. Danny’s fans are extremely loyal (and by loyal, I mean rabid). There’s only one way to find out. Tune in. Same Steve Time. Same Steve Channel.

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American Idol – Final 4 (Results Show)

Good Evening, America! Tonight is going to be an exciting night. For once, I have no idea who is going home. I know who should go home. (I’m looking right at you, Danny Gokey.) Plus, we get 3, count ‘em 3 musical performances this evening, including one by none other than my girl Paula Abdul! (And for those of you who haven’t heard the Paula news today, go to: ) With a possible shocking elimination and the potential for greatness from Paula, tonight could be full of surprises! This… is American Idol!

Before we begin, I’d like to start with something that was pointed out to me last night by my friend Greg Cappel. (Yes, of the amazing Cappel’s stores all across the Greater Cincinnati area!!! Cappel’s – Cincinnati’s Leading Party retailer since 1945. ) Greg said, and I quote, “You neglected to mention Kara’s belief that "Cryin’" and "Crazy" (off of ‘Get a Grip’, released in 1993) represent old Aerosmith, while "Dream On" (off of ‘Aerosmith’, released in 1973) is apparently "new". This is another perfect example of Kara’s “genius”. First with “Studio 57” (not to be confused with Heinz 57) and now this. At least when Paula makes blunders, it’s funny. With Kara, it just comes off as stupid. I’m so over her.

As the show starts, we are subjected again to Danny’s scream. Haven’t we suffered enough? I mean, come on, there are children watching. Seacrest reminds us we have performances by No Doubt, Daughtry, and Paula Abdul. And then right into the…

Ford Music Video – to “Move Along”. It features our Idols jumping out of billboards, magazines, newspapers, and a t-shirt. Pretty blah in terms of some of the other videos this season. Some weeks, it’s like they don’t even try to be cheesy and entertain me. Don’t they realize that’s what counts?

Group Song is “School’s Out” with Slash on the guitar. They are definitely singing live tonight. Allison gets the great “No more pencils…” section. When Adam joins in for the harmony, it just takes it to another level. This was definitely one of the better Group Songs this season. Even if Slash did look like a hat with hair.

Danny admits that his final note last night was excruciating. (At least we’re all on the same page.)

Time for Paula Abdul! For once, I loved watching the filler package. The song is called “Here for the Music” and it premiered on Ryan Seacrest’s KISS FM morning show yesterday. I’ve already listened to it more times than I’d like to admit. The vocals are definitely electronically enhanced, and I’m pretty sure she’s lip-synching most of it tonight, but I’m totally okay with all of that. Love the lighting and the fog. The beat is infectious, and I can totally see this being very popular in the dance clubs. I would have loved to have seen more dancing, but what I saw was amazing! (I can’t wait for the video!!) Pretty impressive when you think she put this performance together in 3 days. My favorite part was the dive off the platform and the bounce back up! My thoughts on it overall: LOVED IT! (Like you didn’t see that coming.)

No Doubt is here to do one of their first hits, “Just a Girl”. Oh, how I’ve missed No Doubt! I loved Gwen solo efforts, but hearing this makes me remember how much I love this group. I wanna see that tour! Then a new cd! Severely excited!

Finally, results. There were over 64 million votes last night. The finalists will be announced in random order. (Skipping over footage of past Idols going home.) Seacrest goes over all the judge’s critiques from last night. (Blah, wasting time.) The first person to join the Final 3 is… Kris Allen? Ugh. Well, as long as Danny goes home, all will still be fine. (Very worried for Allison though.)

Daughtry is here, and we’re reminded that he went out 4th in his season as well and went on to superstardom. I think that has more to do with his talent than with where he went out on American Idol. Daughtry is debuting the first single “No Surprise” off their 2nd cd. (Is it just me, or was his guitar gigantic? I’m waiting for him to tip over holding it.) I really like this song. I was not his biggest supporter when he was on Idol, but I’ve loved the music that he’s released so far.

We have 6 minutes left in the show, and 3 contestants still have yet to learn their fate. Better rush it, Ryan. The 2nd person to make it to the Final 3 is… Adam Lambert-Martin! Yay! Now, down to Allison and Danny. After 64 million votes, Danny Gokey is… safe? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! That means Allison is going home. This is so wrong. This is not how it was supposed to be. After last night, there is no way that Danny should still be around to sing another week. In all fairness, to all the Danny fans out there, I guess you are entitled to your opinion… even if it is your wrong opinion.

Well, that’s our show for tonight. All the wonderful feelings I had about Paula’s performance were dashed when Allison was sent packing. I really wanted an Adam vs. Allison finale. That would have been something to see. Let’s all take a moment and think good thoughts for Allison and her future career. All I have to say now is that it better be Adam and Somebody in the finals, because if Adam doesn’t make it there… well, I won’t say what will happen, but it won’t be good. Tune in next week for more performances and to see who makes it to the finale. Same Steve Time. Same Steve Channel.

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American Idol – Final 4 (Performance Show)

Good Evening, America! Can you feel the excitement in the air? Yeah, me neither. But we are down to the Final 4. That means after tonight, there are only two performance episodes left before our winner is crowned. But that also means we have lots of filler between now and then to keep us occupied. Not tonight though. Tonight is all about the singing. So, let’s get to it. This… is American Idol!

The Idol Producers, showing their true evil nature, make me relive how my Adam Lambert- Martin almost went home last week. (I had finally started sleeping through the night again. I didn’t need to see that.) Seacrest says that there were a few accidents during the afternoon that prevented our Idols from having a proper run-through, so tonight is “very live”. (As opposed to other weeks when it’s just “kinda live”.) Tonight, besides being Rock Week with Special Guest Mentor Slash, our Idols will be pairing up for duets. There is no doubt in my mind that that will be interesting. (Fingers crossed for an Adam-Allison duet!) Seacrest also hints that this is a special week for my Paula Abdul. (I already know what it is, but we’ll get to that in a bit.)

Adam Lambert-Martin is up 1st with “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin. Adam is back to his Rock Look which is like a cross between David Bowie and Dr. Frankenfurter. This song is an excellent choice for him. Adam takes Slash’s advice which helps him to wail without screaming. And just when you think it’s over, he goes in for a big ending, Adam style, and it’s just awesome!

Allison Iraheta is 2nd with “Cry Baby” by Janis Joplin. I was hoping for some Heart or Blondie, but if she’s gonna do Janis, why not “Piece of My Heart”? Allison looks wonderful tonight, and Rock is definitely her element. Her sultry voice is perfectly suited to the low verses. The first chorus is amazing, but the second verse is very repetitive of the first, style-wise. I was really hoping she would build to something amazing and blow it up at the end. Not saying I didn’t like it because I did love it, but I was so hoping this would be the week for her to kill it.

Danny Gokey and Kris Allen are the 1st Duet of the evening with “Renegade” by Styx. (This means that we do get an Adam-Allison duet! Yay!) They start out sharing the acapella lead, but when they begin the harmony, it’s amazing. (Kris outsang Danny here). Then they kick it up, again taking turns, but this time being a tad pitchy. (Here, Danny definitely outshines Kris.) For the end, they get back into the harmony, and instead of trying to blend, Danny attempts to outshout Kris. Overall, it was good, but a little disjointed.

Kris Allen is our 3rd soloist with “Come Together” by the Beatles. (If you weren’t around last season for me to extol the virtues of the movie “Across the Universe”, I’ll say it again. Go rent/buy the movie. It’s like “Moulin Rouge” with Beatles songs, and it’s completely fabulous.) This is one of my favorite songs by the Beatles, so he better not muck it up. Of our four finalists, I felt Kris would have the hardest time with the Rock theme. (So not his style.) Tonight, it’s like the good kid next door is trying too hard to show that he’s a bad boy too, and it doesn’t really work. It’s very nice, but that’s all it achieves for me. Nice. (Unless Danny comes out and gives his worst performance of the season, I think Kris is going home.)

Danny Gokey is our last soloist with “Dream On” by Aerosmith. This song is more suited to Adam’s vocal pyrotechnics. I’m so afraid that Danny is getting into the “Me too” mode, thinking that if Adam can do it, he can too. The first part isn’t bad at all. It’s not his best stuff, but it’s not bad. The first few sets of “Dream On’s” were good, but at the end, he’s just screaming words into the microphone, and then for the last note, Danny’s just screaming. Not on pitch. Not even close. Worse than strangling a cat. That was not pleasant. I think my ears may be bleeding. And yet… Danny’s so proud of himself. (He won’t be once he watches this back.) I take back what I said about Kris going home. After that, Danny deserves to hit the bricks. (But I have a sinking feeling that Danny’s going to walk away with the title this season. America loves a nice guy with a good sob story who doesn’t rock the boat.)

Closing the show are Adam Lambert-Martin and Allison Iraheta doing a duet on “Slow Ride” by Foghat. (This is the moment I’ve been waiting for all night!) They take turns on the verses showing off some vocal gymnastics. The chorus harmony is a bit bumpy, but the bridge and ending are nothing short of fantastic. This was everything I wanted it to be! The complimented each other extremely well. If anyone had a problem with either of their solo performances, this performance should have erased any of those thoughts. I agree with Simon, if there was a Battle of the Duets, Adam & Allison were the clear winners.

Well, that’s our show for tonight. Overall, I loved it. Adam and Allison shined in a week that was meant for them. If all goes as it should, Danny and Kris should be in the Bottom 2. Tomorrow night, we’ll be visited by Chris Daughtry, No Doubt, and my girl Paula Abdul will take the stage to perform her new single "I’m Just Here for the Music"! (Words cannot describe my level of excitement over that!) Tune in tomorrow to see how it all goes down. Same Steve Time. Same Steve Channel.

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American Idol – Final 5 (Results Show)

Good Evening, America! I don’t know about you, but I severely enjoyed the performances last night, especially Danny, Allison, and my Adam Lambert-Martin. (It almost makes me wanna be nice tonight. But not quite.) Jamie Foxx deserves credit for his work with the Idols. He was able to pull a performance out of Danny that I didn’t think was possible anymore. But enough with the blah, blah, blah. It’s time to see someone’s dreams shattered! This… is American Idol!

Seacrest tells us that we’ll have performances tonight from Jamie Foxx, Natalie Cole… and Taylor Hicks. (Well, there goes my good mood.) Seriously? Taylor Hicks? He was the least deserving person to EVER win this show. I disliked him then, and… well, that hasn’t changed.

Ford Music Video time! This week, it’s to “Energy” by The Apples. It features slow-motion running by our Idols and, of course, a Ford Fusion. I like the black and white filming with hints of color. But if they were going to do slow-motion running, I would have preferred a more “Baywatch” themed video. Mmmm hmmmm.

Group Sing time to “It Don’t Mean a Thing” and “I Got Rhythm”. Allison starts us off surrounded by her harem of guys. They missed a big chance here to have Paula choreograph another dance number ala “Swing Kids”… or they could have gotten some of last year’s contestants from “So You Think You Can Dance” to come out and play back-up dancers. That was a lot for the first 5 minutes of the show. That just means we’ll have lots of filler for the other 55 minutes. Joy. (There was some filler with a cake fight, and all I could think was “DON’T GET IT IN ADAM’S HAIR! NOT THE HAIR!”)

Results time! All 5 Idols are brought on stage. Matt is sent to the right side of the stage. (Uh-oh, I think Idol pulled a fast one and moved the Evil Final 7 Split to the Final 5.) Danny is sent to the left side of the stage. Allison is also sent to the left side of the stage. (I pick these two to be the safe group.) Kris is sent to stand by Matt. That means my Adam Lambert-Martin has to make the tough choice of which group is safe and which group is the bottom. He picks Danny/Allison and goes to stand by them (thinking they are the Top 3), but Seacrest moves him over to Matt/Kris and declares Danny/Allison safe. That means Adam is in… the Bottom 3??? WHAT??? This better be some cruel and horrible joke. I swear if my Adam is sent home…. Oh, let’s just say, Hell hath no fury like Stephen scorned.

Natalie Cole is here to perform “Something’s Gotta Give” from her album “Still Unforgettable”. If you remember, in the 90’s, she was “Unforgettable”, and now she wants everyone to know that she is still… unforgettable? I wonder if it takes anything away from the message if you have to remind people. Hmmm, ‘tis a puzzlement.

Taylor Hicks has come home to Idol. Whoever said that you can never go home again… I wish they had been right. Fast-forward.

Back to the results. Our Bottom 3: Matt, Kris, and Adam. One person is going back to safety. And that person is… Kris? Oh, someone is really testing my patience. I don’t think the Idol Producers realize the terror I will unleash upon the world if Adam is sent home.

Jamie Foxx takes the stage to perform his hit “Blame It”. I know this is his current release, but I would have preferred for him to pull out some Ray Charles and do “Georgia on My Mind”. Oh well, can’t always get what you want. Or so they say.

Back to the final results! Matt or Adam? Which one is safe? (Better be Adam.) After 47 million votes, Adam is… SAFE!!! Yay! Whew! That was waaaaaaaaaaaaay too close for my liking. So, Matt Giraud is going home, as he should, and as I predicted. As I told someone earlier today, everything works out like it should. We’re forced to listen to “My Funny Valentine” one more time, and if he had sung like this last night, it would have been even more clear cut that he was the one to go home. That was just painful.

Well, that’s our show for tonight. My heart rate is slowly returning to normal. I didn’t realize it, but for about 30 seconds there, I had stopped breathing. Idol, why do you like to torture me so? We’re now down to our Final 4. Again, I really like all of them, but if Adam doesn’t win… well, it won’t be pretty. Tune in next week for another set of possibly amazing performances with a Rock & Roll theme. Same Steve Time. Same Steve Channel.

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American Idol – Final 5 (Performance Show)

Good Evening, America! It’s Tuesday night, and here we are again. Back to see which of our remaining wannabe’s will compete against my Adam Lambert-Martin in the finale… which is only a few weeks away. Now that we’re down to the Final 5, I can honestly say that I don’t dislike any of the remaining contestants, which could pose a problem for finding someone to ridicule tonight. (I’m sure I’ll manage though.) With Allison that last remaining female in the competition, it begs the question if she can charm America enough to let her into the “Idol Boys Club”. A lot is riding on tonight for several people. So let’s get on with it. This… is American Idol!

Tonight, our Idols take on the songs of the Rat Pack era. And to help them along the way is none other than Jamie Foxx. (If you haven’t seen “Ray”, you should. It’s amazing.) Before we move on with the show, I’d like to give you a bit of history. The “Rat Pack” was a group of popular entertainers centered around Humphrey Bogart. In the 1960’s, the group also included Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. And it’s a little known fact that there were female “Rat Packers” including Shirley MacLaine, Lauren Bacall, Angie Dickinson, Marilyn Monroe, and Judy Garland. So, now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

Kris Allen is up first singing “The Way You Look Tonight” which was originally done by Fred Astaire. As Jamie Foxx correctly pointed out, Kris doesn’t try to compete with vocal histrionics. He sings right in the pocket where he’s comfortable, and with that goofy grin and soothing voice, he can win over anyone. Not a huge fan of him carrying around the mic stand. Just looks akward. I liked that the arrangement kicked up to a more jazzy feel for a bit before coming back down for the emotional end. His final note was a touch weak and off, but I’m willing to forgive that. It wasn’t phenomenal, but it was nice.

Allison Iraheta is second with “Someone to Watch Over Me” by the Gershwin Brothers. Allison looks lovely tonight in her black dress, and she is now 17 years old. Happy Birthday, Allison! (Here’s hoping you don’t get voted off.) Her rough and smoky voice is perfect on this song. This is a wonderful, bluesy version of the song, and it allows Allison to be tender and emotional, but you know she could still kick your butt. Allison knocked it out of the park tonight. There is nothing negative I can say about the performance. I heart her.

Matt Giraud is third with “My Funny Valentine” by Rodgers & Hart. (Constantine flashback! Constantine flashback!) This is a difficult song, and I don’t think Matt has the chops to pull it off without trying to show off. Plus, I think he looks idiotic in that fedora. (At least it hides that mole.) The start to the song isn’t the best. His lower register is not his strong suit. Matt does mostly well on a hard song. He shines on the high notes, but he’s distracting and sounds like Bea Arthur (God rest her soul) on the low notes. Overall, this was blah for me. Just blah.

Danny Gokey is fourth with (one of my favorites) “Come Rain or Come Shine” by Harold Arlen and the great Johnny Mercer. There’s a nice trombone lead in, and Danny takes the stage. Somewhere a wedding party is missing its Best Man. (Sorry Danny. I don’t like the suit.) Vocally, this is typical Danny, and I mean that in the best possible way. He pays amazing tribute to the original Mercer version… for most of the song. Then it kicks into Vaudeville stripper music. Danny needs a pole to dance around. Kara kindly offers hers. In the end, I loved it. Great song. Great performance. Well done. Nice to see the old Danny back.

Adam Lambert-Martin is closing the show with “Feelin’ Good” by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse. Adam looks as cute as ever in his suit. I love his entrance on the steps with the backlighting. (That’s a strut and a half.) Vocally, Adam is strong and sultry. The stripper music from Danny’s song has returned, and it works here. This is classic Adam: taking something we all know and making it new again. And his note at the end… there aren’t words. Wow. Just wow. He does not have a vocal equal in this competition. In my mind, the boy can do no wrong.

Well, that’s our show for tonight. I have to say, this was one of the better nights of the season. Now that we’re winding down to the end, none of the singers are bad. I don’t think I can do a Bottom 3 this week, because I really enjoyed 4 of the performances. So, in that spirit, I’ll say that I think Matt Giraud is going home tomorrow night. Will I be right? Will I be wrong? Will Adam lift the restraining order against me? Tune in and find out. Same Steve Time. Same Steve Channel.

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American Idol – Final 7 (Results Show) Redux

Good Evening, America! Here we are again. No, it’s not déjà vu, we’re at the exact same place we were last Wednesday. 7 hopefuls vying for stardom, but someone must go home. Correction, this week 2 someone’s must go home. After last week’s use of the Judge’s Save, 2 of our wannabe’s will sing their swan song and exit stage left. Will there be tears? Will Paula end up as a big Pool of Abdul? Tonight could prove to be the most shocking double elimination in the most dramatic Rose Ceremony EVER. (Big sweeping hand motion.) Let’s find out. This… is American Idol!

Ryan wishes us all a Happy Earth Day and says that the finale will use all ‘green’ power. Ryan, that begs the question, what about all the other elimination shows? How is that power generated? In my mind, I see Megan Joy backstage, flapping her arms and making bird sounds while running as fast as she can on a giant hamster wheel hooked up to a generator.

The Group Sing this week is choreographed by Idol Judge, Ms. Paula Abdul. (I’ve been saying for weeks that they should have her do this.) Say what you will about her, but the girl can dance. The Idols are singing “Shake Your Body” by the Jackson 5 while decked out in outlandish 70’s attire. Danny and Anoop look like actual pimps, Lil is rocking the white boots, Adam Lambert Martin has invoked John Travolta. I’m so entertained right now, I could care less how bad they are lip-synching, and trust me, it’s pretty bad. The choreography is fantastic, and it’s easy to tell which Idols have natural dance ability and which ones don’t. This was fun and should be a lesson to the producers that if they are going to make us watch a Group Sing, the least they could do is entertain us.

Time for the Ford Music Video to the song “I’m Good, I’m Gone”. There’s a whole bunch of stuff going on: bakers, construction workers, dog washers. In the end, they all leave their day jobs and go to a café for open mic night where they are looking for singers. It was over pretty fast, and that was a good thing. After the wonderfully campy magic show, this was just a HUGE let down.

Results! Lil Rounds is first. She seems completely over it, and America does too, because after a little pomp and a little less circumstance, Lil is eliminated. Wow. I’m not shocked that she’s gone (totally expected that), but I’m shocked that she’s gone at 8:15. Lil Rounds sings herself out, and honestly, she looks relieved, and she sings better than she has in weeks. Definitely a classy way to go out.

Time for a Disco Medley. I’m sure it was lovely, and I’m sure you’d like to hear my thoughts on it, but I’m pressed for time. So… Fast Forward. Okay, a few comments. Freda’s performance was rough at best. Would have preferred to hear Kimberly Locke singing it. Thelma Houston looked like a cracked out Big Bird. Honestly, who dressed her? And was anyone else shocked to find out that KC (from KC & the Sunshine Band, not to be confused with Casey at the Bat) was white?

Back to the results. Kris Allen – safe. Adam Lambert-Martin – safe. (Yay!) Danny Gokey – safe. (No surprises so far.) Anoop Desai is the next member of our Bottom 3, as he should be. Down to Matt and Allison. One is safe, and the other joins Anoop for possible elimination. And the last person in our Bottom 3 is… Allison? Oh noooooooooooooooo! I don’t like this at all.

Supposedly David Archuletta performed, but for some reason my DVR refused to stop fast forwarding. It has a mind of its own.

The Moment of Truth. Anoop or Allison. (Please let Allison be safe.) After a record-breaking 45 million votes, the 2nd person going home tonight is… Anoop Desai!!! Yay! Wow, I totally called both eliminations tonight. I’m so good it’s scary sometimes.

The right people went home, but it was too close for Allison for my liking. We’re down to the Final 5, and that’s our show for tonight. So come on back next week to this locality, to have a heapin’ helpin’ of their hospitality. Idol that is. Same Steve Time. Same Steve Channel.

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