Candice Glover (image courtesy of Fox)

Despite the low TV ratings, I was extremely pleased with the caliber of talent in Season 11 of American Idol, in my opinion probably the strongest and most talented group of Top 10 contestants ever, arguably even better than the caliber of highly-regarded Seasons 5, 7, 8, and 10.  But this season also featured one of the biggest injustices as the judges (or probably with the hand of Nigel Lythgoe) eliminated Candice Glover in the Las Vegas group round even after delivering an awesome, now-all-time-classic group number covering a hot buttered soul rearrangement of Buddy Holly’s “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” with eventual American Idol runner-up Jessica Sanchez and 8th placer Deandre Brackensick.  She was way better than the wildcards they eventually offered (all boys, and the one who made it eventually was disqualified after making the Top 12).  You wonder what if she was the one who was given the wildcard instead.  Anyway, just as a reminder, here is that fiery, barn-burning soul number:

Candice previously auditioned in Season 9 (made it to Hollywood) and 10 (but did not even pass muster with the producers to be presented to the judges, for some odd reason).  And I was dreaming that when the Idols went on tour near Candice’s hometown, they’ll vary their repertoire a bit to make way for Candice to go onstage with Jessica and Deandre and perform that number (or that Jessica and Deandre perform the song with either Holly Cavanaugh or Joshua Ledeet). But unfortunately they did not vary their setlist for the tour* and it’s the same for all tour dates.  But I discovered that Candice was in the audience in one of those dates and got backstage passes, where she then got to perform that song–not onstage, but more as a fun lark as a document of her backstage reunion with Jessica and Deandre, preserved on YouTube to our delight, below:

* Another wish I had about the Idol tour was that for the Manila date (which I watched at Smart Araneta Coliseum), that Heejun Han perform Psy’s “Gangnam Style” since it was a big, rising trend at the time and was a big hit in Manila then.  They just stuck to “Party Rock Anthem”, unfortunately, even if they could’ve easily segued that LMFAO song with the Psy hit.

It’s a good thing Candice persevered and auditioned again in Season 12 as finally she got a break.  I suppose because of the audience outrage over last year’s early elimination, she is now pimped as one of the “chosen ones”.  But the great thing is, Candice has been delivering sterling vocal performances that made her worthy of going all the way to the finals, even starting from her audition song for the judges, Duffy’s “Syrup & Honey”:

As TVLine’s Michael Slezak raved, her performance was “surgical precision”.  It’s also worth checking her own home video of the full song on her YouTube account:

Another favorite performance of mine was her Hollywood Round group number with eventual Top 40 semifinalists Kamaria Ousley and Melinda Ademi (and also-ran Denise Jackson), perfecting Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!)” (a number that typically stumps other Hollywood Round contenders).  Of course Candice was given a solo highlight in the group doing all those vocal runs:

My next favorite performance was the victory song she performed when it was announced she made the Top 10, as she covered Rose Royce and Mary J. Blige’s “I’m Goin’ Down”.

She is now assured of going on tour, but we all know she has her eyes on the prize, and she was a major highlight in the Top 10 thus far with her earth-shattering version of Ben E. King’s “I (Who Have Nothing)”, which have also been previously performed (to critical raves) by Season 6 champion Jordin Sparks and Season 10 third placer Haley Reinhart.  May she continue on to her lofty path to the finale.

Now, I don’t want to end my essay in a negative note, but I want to vent my frustration over one of the Top 10 Idol finalists, Paul Jolley.  Of the guys of the Top 10 he has the potential to be a bigger star as he actually has strong vocals, and he is arguably the best looking of the guys.  But why is it that ladies (and gay guys) aren’t swooning over him?  He resembles two of the hunkiest men in showbusiness, actor Dylan McDermott (yes, he’s over 50 but lawd is he so hunky!) and Maroon 5  frontman (and The Voice coach and judge) Adam Levine, but why can’t he seem to capitalize on those looks?

Paul Jolley (image courtesy of Fox)
Dylan McDermott (image sourced from
Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine (image sourced from

Part of the problem is that he seems to be so unsure about the kind of artist he wants to be–he may say he wants to be pop-country, but he sounds rather tentative when he declared that.  Worse, when he speaks he lacks any semblance of confidence and he tends to sound wishy-washy, and he has rather effeminate movements and an effete speaking voice that makes my gaydar go “ding-ding-ding” (though I have to note that my gaydar is not 100% accurate).  He lacks the manly confidence that I could see in Idol hunks like Bo Bice, Constantine Maroulis, Chris Daughtry, Ace Young, David Cook, Kris Allen, Matt Giraud, Anoop Desai (yes, he’s a hunk of the alternative sort), Lee Dewyze, Casey James, James Durbin, Paul McDonald, Stefano Langone, Phillip Phillips, and Colton Dixon.  Hell, I can even argue that the out and proud Adam Lambert, the boyishly geeky Anthony Federov, the effete Sanjaya Malakar, and the virginally androgynous Deandre Brackensick seem to exude more masculinity than he does, so this guy is in serious trouble.  I hope he’s not spayed and neutered or aspiring to become a singing Ken doll.

One train of thought that seems to make most sense to me is that he needed to be in the closet because he loves country music and unfortunately the country music industry is still conservative and homophobic.  He has been singing around in the country circuit since his teens, as exhibited by this video at the Kentucky Opry when he was 19, covering Keith Urban’s “Tonight I Wanna Cry”(yes, and doing a better job than La-La-Lazaro A-A-Arbos’s butchery a few weeks ago).

But I want to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s simply an effeminate heterosexual, but if that’s the case he must figure out his real passions and translate that in the way he carries himself and in his performances or otherwise he’ll get the boot very soon.  It might be too late to inject him with swagger and passion, I feel, because at this stage it might seem jarring, unnatural, and abrupt.  He’s such a waste of hunky potential, tsk, tsk.




Pentatonix continues to amaze and impress, as they recently released their latest video, a cover of Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive”, in a collaboration with another YouTube artist, Lindsey Stirling.  There are already over 3 million hits at Lindsey’s channel and about over 400k at Pentatonix’s channel since its release last March 12 (less than a week ago).  This is the first Pentatonix performance with instruments–at their current concert tour, this is already an immediate highlight with Kevin Olusola’s famous cello-beatboxing, but adding Lindsey Stirling’s violin for the studio version makes this even extra special.  This is the best “produced” video Pentatonix has ever released, and the edgy, post-apocalyptic attire they sported is a suitably striking image for them.

The thing about studio recordings is that the cleaned up sounds may lead some parties to accuse that some tweaking is done on the vocals (something that happened with their incredible version of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” as there were some negative wags accusing the vocals were autotuned).  I wonder the same thing about the echo effects on the percussion on some parts of this number, if that is an actual drum or still coming from the mouth of Kevin Olusola–if it was coming from Kevin, I don’t mind the echo effects at all at all, but it makes his beatboxing/percussion abilities even more incredible…

Anyway, the video by the original artist is worth checking out–I have a feeling the original video concept was something very intense and violent (gladiators a la the TV series Spartacus perhaps), but objections by either the band or the record company or some other party (plus considerations especially in light of recent killings like that in Aurora, Colorado and in Newport, Connecticut)  may have turned the concept into something a bit lighter by using puppets.  Have to say, it also made it more refreshing as violence and gore is a bit too cliche these days.  Great guest appearance by Lou Diamond Phillips as a campily comic villain, by the way.

Speaking of the Incredible Mr. Olusola, the release of their “Radioactive”video also gives me a reason to also share their guest appearance in the Chinese version of The Sing-Off in September last year.  Some are aware of his Chinese speaking abilities, but little did we know how incredible his Chinese actually is until he bantered with the host–who was incredulous that not only he speaks with a convincing Beijing accent, he studied in two of China’s most prestigious universities and can quote a profound saying from Confucius. It makes me wonder how high his IQ is, actually, as he probably is at Mensa levels.

Attached is a translated transcript of the banter between the host and Kevin:

PTX China

In between the dialogue, Mitch also spoke a Chinese phrase which vexed the host, as the phrase is better addressed to a girl: “You are more beautiful than the flowers in the morning.”

The video above also featured a portion of the sing-off round between the bottom two groups in danger of elimination, and they had to perform the late Teresa Teng’s classic hit “Tian Mi Mi”(literally, “Sweet Honey Honey”).  The judges and the majority of Pentatonix members preferred the first group, who gave a modern, almost boy-band-ish pop take on that song.  I think the reason why Kevin and Scott chose the second group was because they probably felt the second group was a bit more faithful to the original, or probably they associate the pitchy tone by the lead female vocalist with how traditional Chinese pop would sound like.  But then, I listened to Teresa Teng’s original version, and she never sounded like a warbly auntie like the way the female lead of the second group sounded–Teresa’s tone was clarion clear and her pretty pitch never wavered.

Whatever the case, Pentatonix then also performed their version of the song–and arguably outdid the two groups who had to sing for their lives with it.  I’ll close this essay by posting that performance below: