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"Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel""
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goDAWful 34 desperate attention whore postings
DAW Level: "Beauty Pageant Celebrity Judge"

03-11-04, 02:50 PM (EST)
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"Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel""
"Explain 'A&R Weasel' before I commit," I hear you intone. Fair enough:

At a record label, the people whose job description it is to discover new talent for the label to sign up and make records with are called the A&R department. "A&R" stands for "Artists & Repertoire" and that, in essence, means developing the talent by deciding which songs are right for the artist to put on his or her records. Of course, it also means deciding which producer is right for the artist to work with, and what artwork is right for the packaging, and all those various decisions that are associated with creating a saleable recorded product -- but the main issue for the A&R is the song choices.

So why "weasel"? Well, because A&R guys are just weaselly kinds of people, quite frankly -- big teeth, beady little eyes, hairy backs, spiny toes, and prone to stealing eggs from chicken coops. Nobody likes them except when they have a cheque book in one hand and a pen in the other and a credit card behind the bar. That's really all you need to know about them, other than the old industry joke that goes, "Hey, A&R man, what do you think of my demo?" "I don't know -- I haven't played it for anyone yet."

All right, anyone who wants to play "I Am An A&R Weasel" with me, here's how it works. We already have a thread concerning which songs we never want to hear ever again on American Idol (that's "almost all songs," for me, but no matter). So let's take the more difficult road of deciding which songs we DO want to hear the performers attempt. It's a little bit tricky because we know the show has "themed" weeks in which all the contestants will sing a Motown selection, or a disco number, or a song by Diane Warren, or whatever. Since we don't know in advance what the themes will be, let's pretend we have completely free rein to choose whichever songs we think are appropriate for each competitor.

Bear in mind that you want your favourite wannabe to sing a song that showcases whatever modicum of talent he claims to have, while performing a song that the listening public can instantly identify with (no B-sides by long-lost Mississippi blues men, for example). You want to ensure that your talent is comfortable with the choice, but that he doesn't just stay "safe" because we know that won't impress the judges. Pick songs that you know your dude can physically accomplish with the vocal range he's stuck with, but that will have people saying, "Hey, that was really kind of unexpected, and really kind of cool. I dug that whole thing." And then tell us a bit about WHY your song choice is the perfect number for your candidate to perform.

Below are some of my choices for the few contestants whom I'm actually able to identify among the faceless herd of no-hopers we have to work with.

John Stevens
John's problem is that all the things that make him interesting in this competition are also hurdles for him to overcome in this competition. He's "different" in the sense that he's not from the average pop mould, which will either attract votes in droves or have everyone saying, "Huh?" He looks extremely startling, which makes him memorable -- but does the American Idol market have room for two red-headed stepchild types?

More importantly, though, I fear John is a one-trick pony -- can he do anything other than that low-register mumble which was no doubt quite charming for five minutes at his mother's Christmas coffee morning just after his voice changed, but is he anything more than a casual imitator of classic performers from a bygone era? If he CAN actually sing, and if he DOES actually have his own chops to bring, I would love to hear him have a crack at "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak, which would allow him to maintain his nostalgic idiom in the context of a modern pop song -- but I fear John's vocal range is limited and would not accommodate the octaves in this number. I also think he'd be fun to hear on "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" as performed by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes -- but of course this is a duet, and there is nobody of Jennifer's calibre on the cast for him to duet with. A duet-themed week would be great to see, though!

Matt Rodgers
I strongly dislike Matt as a performer. I find his performances boorish, insensitive, inauthentic, and lacking any musical or stylistic elegance. He appears primarily concerned with curbing his natural loutishness so that America will find him unthreatening, which is just horrible fakery and insulting to the intelligence of the audience. He should stick to rock numbers, which typically have enough muscle to withstand the kind of abuse he's going to inflict upon his selections. Although the lyrical content of the song is not appropriate for family TV (drug and alcohol references), I would like to hear him have a shot at "Copperhead Road" by Steve Earle. If he wanted to take a risk and show a bit of style variety, he should do "Let's Stick Together" by Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music (please don't ever think I meant the Tina Turn thing, which belongs on the list of Songs We Never Want To Hear Again).

Fantasia Whatnot
There's no doubt that this chick can sing. I just wouldn't want her to get painted into that early Motown girl-group corner, which is where she'll end up if she takes the Supremes-type route. Fantasia should have a go at "I Try" by Macy Gray -- an ideal choice for her in every respect. I'd also love to hear her tackle a Kate Bush number to get her away from any risk of making "obvious black chick" choices -- "The Man With The Child In His Eyes" would be a bold but potentially stunning selection for her.

Jon Peter Lewis
Jon Peter needs to get his act together. That dance routine wasn't charming, it was embarrassing white guy flailing that needs to come to an immediate halt if anyone is ever to take him seriously. Aside from that, he needs to spend four hours a day practicing scales, because he has no control over his voice (although it does have a pleasant, natural tone that would sound good on the radio). Once he has got a grip on himself, he should have a go at "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" by Creedence Clearwater Revival or "Mr. Fantasy" by Traffic.

Jennifer Hudson
I haven't decided on a song for Jennifer yet. I like her voice, but she needs to stop with the goofy facial expressions and clowning around, which she does because she thinks she needs to compensate for being fat by having "personality". Song-wise, she needs to steer clear of "obvious fat black chick" choices (the "gospel" tendency that Cowell has already criticized) and show us that she can croon some gentler songs as well as the big ballsy numbers that appear to be her trademark. One thing I do like about her a lot is that she can take criticism, and she DOES something with it -- note how she turned off the "gospel chin wobble" when told to. And I bet you her wardrobe choices will improve dramatically this week.

That's all for now (thank heavens, I hear you pant) -- the rest of the candidates haven't made themselves known to me yet. Anyone else have some Weaselling they want to share with us?

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  Table of Contents

  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
 RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel" greenmonstah 03-11-04 1
   RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel" Tiger Lily 03-12-04 3
       RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel" greenmonstah 03-13-04 4
 Song suggestion for Leah goDAWful 03-12-04 2
 RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel" minkey 03-13-04 5
 RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel" DoubleCatSign 03-15-04 6
   RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel" greenmonstah 03-16-04 7
       RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel" tk72 03-16-04 8
 RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel" 712 03-16-04 9
   RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel" goDAWful 03-17-04 10
       RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel" opinionated 03-17-04 11
       RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel" DoubleCatSign 03-18-04 13
 RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel" smakitupflipit 03-17-04 12
 Dweezil? AugustGirl 03-19-04 14

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greenmonstah 10761 desperate attention whore postings
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03-11-04, 09:14 PM (EST)
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1. "RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel""
Sure...always up for some weaselling...Jon Peter Lewis: how about a John Lennon rock and roll song (early Beatles stuff). Lennon's voice has always intrugued me. I think Jon Peter could really showcase that old misery beat. He seems to have the same tenor (no idea if that is the right word) as Lennon does...actually, he could even slow it down a bit and do a nice version of Norwegien Wood.

Why do I have this feeling that Fantasia may be the biggest DAW yet?

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Tiger Lily 1679 desperate attention whore postings
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03-12-04, 07:42 PM (EST)
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3. "RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel""
He seems to have the same tenor (no idea if that is the right word) as Lennon does...

Are you maybe looking for timbre? (Pronounced "tam-bur", means "tone quality")

I think Jon Peter is pretty good at varying his tone quality to imitate other singers. After all, his Elvis impression was pretty spot on the other night. That could turn out to be an advantage for him, since it gives him versatility. It could also turn out to be a disadvantage if he doesn't find a style that's his own; the judges won't like that.

*waves* to greenmonstah!

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greenmonstah 10761 desperate attention whore postings
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03-13-04, 09:11 AM (EST)
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4. "RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel""
Hey Tiger Lily, girlfriend...Why yes, I was trying to express a similarity between the distinctive quality of tone between Jon Peter and John Lennon. So, it is timbre. Those French have a fancy word for everything, n'est ce pas? ;)

waves back at Tiger Lily
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goDAWful 34 desperate attention whore postings
DAW Level: "Beauty Pageant Celebrity Judge"

03-12-04, 04:30 PM (EST)
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2. "Song suggestion for Leah"
"Stupid Girl" by Garbage

ROFL, I kill myself sometimes.

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minkey 231 desperate attention whore postings
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03-13-04, 05:47 PM (EST)
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5. "RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel""
goDAWful,

You seem to really know your thang when it comes to music; I, on the other hand, know next to nothing. Therefore, I'm not exactly sure which song suits which voice, but I'll give it a shot. My choices will be more about what I'd like to hear.

Fantasia - "Damn, Wish I was Your Lover" Sofie B. Hawkins
Jon Peter - "Behind Blue Eyes" The Who
Matthew - "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again"
Dylan

George - "Thank You" Sly and the Family Stone
Jennifer - "Doll Parts" Hole
John - "Love Will Tear Us Apart Again" Joy Division

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DoubleCatSign 4 desperate attention whore postings
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03-15-04, 11:20 PM (EST)
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6. "RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel""
Can I play? Let's see...how about

Jon Peter Lewis: "The Weight" by the Band or "Refugee" by Tom Petty--somehow I can see him pulling off the "country rock" thing.

Matt Rodgers: "Oklahoma" from the musical "Oklahoma" to match his supposed dramatic "stylings" or maybe one of those bland Phil Collins songs from the Disney movies.

Camile Valasco: People say she has an "edge" so how about something by Avril Lavigne, say "Complicated" or "Sk8erboi"

Jennifer Hudson: "Age of Aquarius" from the musical "Hair" (Can't you just see the 'fro, cat-eye makeup and odd facial expressions working with this?) Might also work for Fantasia as well, if she has the range.

John Stevens: "Moondance" by Van Morrison

Latoya London: Actually I'd love to hear her take on "Minnie the Moocher" or maybe "You're So Vain" by Carly Simon

Leah Labelle: "99 Red Balloons," preferably in the original German!

George Huff: "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night

Yeah, I know I'm dating myself with my selections. Oh well--I'm sooo sick of hearing the pop diva selections and ballads!

DCS

P.S. Traffic! One of my favorite bands!

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greenmonstah 10761 desperate attention whore postings
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03-16-04, 02:49 PM (EST)
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7. "RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel""
John Stevens: "Moondance" by Van Morrison

Great thought! Although, John Stevens would add some serious swagger to that song. He could really do well with that song.

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tk72 151 desperate attention whore postings
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03-16-04, 06:11 PM (EST)
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8. "RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel""
I always pictured John Stevens Singin' "Mack The Knife" by Sinatra.
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712 356 desperate attention whore postings
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03-16-04, 07:54 PM (EST)
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9. "RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel""
John Peter - Gimme Some Lovin' by the Spencer Davis Group.

Camille - On and On by Eryka Badu

Diana - If they do a disco-themed night, I would hope she'd sing Donna Summers' "Hot Stuff". I'm still mad at Trenyce for not singing that on the last go-round.

Amy I'd like to hear something edgier from. I wonder if she could pull off Pat Benatar, maybe. The Celine Dion ballads just aren't gonna cut it.

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goDAWful 34 desperate attention whore postings
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03-17-04, 06:03 PM (EST)
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10. "RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel""
Wow, there are some really amazing choices in this thread! The producers should do themselves a favour and stop with their tired, obvious selections and come and get some advice from the Weasels here, for a change. ;)

Jon Peter -- oh, what a yawn, doing "Drift Away". His performance was as lacklustre as the song choice, too. (Since when is "Drift Away" a soul song, anyway?) I was bored by his whole thing, and irritated by the senseless display of tomfoolery he optimistically refers to as "dancing". While I think Simon is right and that the voting will tend to go Jon Peter's way for a while yet, I just don't get "Idol" from him at all. For me, he has none of the natural charm of America's favourite twit, Clay, but I wouldn't mind hearing him have a go at something by Tom Petty, as DoubleCatSign suggested (although I love Tom, and it would pain me to hear anything horrid happening to his music).

John Stevens was just hopeless. I was cringeing every moment he was on the screen. He's lucky that Leah is there to be a human shield for him in the voting today. He obviously cannot do anything other than pretend to be something he's not, which -- given that he is 16 -- isn't surprising. But compare him with a couple of the other performers in his age range (Jasmine and Diana are both teens, I think? and I thought they were both splendid last night) and it's clear that this kid is only there to give us some variety, as Simon commented. He doesn't stand a chance and will be gone within 3 weeks, if there's any justice in the world, even if the older generation does tend to give him a block vote. His only hope would be to whip out the Joy Division tune proposed by Minkey (genius bit of A&Ring, that, Minkey) but he's so white bread, straight down the middle SAFE that I doubt he could find the "edge" he'd need to pull it off. Ugh, he creeps me out.

Matt Rogers was a total shambles, but then I'm already biased by my existing disdain for everything about him. I thought "Hard To Handle" was an utterly grim choice for him because (a) it's a hard song to sing in the first place, requiring, as it does, both vocal ability and personality, both of which Matt comprehensively lacks, and (b) he couldn't decide if he was doing the Black Crowes version or the Otis Redding version. He was absolutely shocking and I would say he's Leah's only hope of survival this week. Having said that, though, I'm actually rather hoping he stays in the competition for a while yet, so that we can experience the zenith and nadir of his murdering other favourite tunes of ours. Having something to diss mercilessly and make vomit noises over is what makes a Weasel's life worth living, after all.

I thought "You Make Me Feel Brand New" was a good choice for Amy Adams, as much as I rue ever having to see on my TV someone as utterly deserving of a good slap around the face. Her voice lent itself quite well to the sweet melody and high pitch of the tune, but (as someone pointed out in another thread) her vocal was very low in the sound mix and so she lost most of the already Lilliputian portion of stage presence she has. I LOVE 712's suggestion of Pat Benatar for Amy -- perhaps "We Belong" would be good, since there's that opportunity for her to use that upper register while rocking out a bit.

Fantasia and LaToya bore me. I hope everyone is over them fairly soon. I dunno if it's just me, but I really want a bit of a sense of "ingenue" to come from my American Idol. I don't want some semi-professional taking the prize. In any event, they're both just uninteresting to me and I hope each of them "Does A Tamyra" at the opportune moment.

More interesting to me as potential "idols", but each for very different reasons, are Camille and George. I tolerated both of them fairly well last night, and if I were the voting type, my vote would have gone to George; he needs to stop with the jigging around, however. George is so audience-friendly and accessible, I could easily see him going the distance. Camille needs to rip out some scarier songs and I hope we have a theme week that favours her throatier, darker idiom. If the producers would only come here and see some of our song suggestions, rather than sticking with the same tired old songbook we've patiently abided for the last two years, we'd be in good shape!!

Can anyone remember whether they tell us in advance what the theme of the following week's episode will be? If so, we could have some fun A&Ring our weasly black guts out within the specific parameters -- which has the added interest of seeing if we got any choices "right".

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opinionated 151 desperate attention whore postings
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03-17-04, 09:30 PM (EST)
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11. "RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel""
Here's a couple of ideas:

JPL - "Ship of Fools" The Robert Plant version

George - "Light My Fire" The Doors

Gotta beg to differ with you on Amy Adams. I think she needs to stay away from her upper register. She has no power there, and it distracts from her performances. She should stick to her middle register and possibly her lower register. There will be plenty of women belting out their upper registers in this competition anyway.

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DoubleCatSign 4 desperate attention whore postings
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03-18-04, 11:01 PM (EST)
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13. "RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel""
I agree about JPL's version of "Drift Away"--very lackluster. Plus, he's still mush-mouthing the words. (They also chopped up the arrangement so much that the pacing didn't make any sense!)

I also agree about John Stevens and Matt Rodgers. I really TRIED to focus on Stevens singing, but kept drifting away and Rodgers' attitude and singing was very hard to handle (grin).

Up coming week is country. 'Fraid my knowledge of the genre is mostly rooted in the classics (Cash, Willians, etc.), since that's what my parents listened to when I was growing up. But I'll take a stab at it anyway:

Diana: "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" by Crystal Gayle. I think this will work extremely well for Diana's tone and range.

John Stevens: "King of the Road" by Roger Miller. It fits the suit/rat pack vibe perfectly, but it's a bit more upbeat than what he's been doing.

Jasmine: "Walkin' After Midnight" by Patsy Cline. Not sure why, but I think she might be able to pull this one off.

JPL: "Let It Roll" by Charlie Daniels Band. Of course he may be inclined to dance to this or he might stumble over the words, but the sound is right.

George: "Sharp-Dressed Man" by ZZ Top. Fits his energy and makes use of the rasp in his voice!

I'd like to hear one of the women try "Jolene" by Dolly Parton, just not quite sure who--maybe Amy, though she loses power on the high notes, or perhaps Latoya.

DCS

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smakitupflipit 29 desperate attention whore postings
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03-17-04, 10:57 PM (EST)
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12. "RE: Let's play "I Am An A&R Weasel""
More than anything I wish they would limit each song to one time performed per season. This would stop the recycling of Celine, Whitney, Aretha, Stevie Wonder, and James Engram. The worst part of Idol is the themes, because there may not be enough "TV friendly" stuff in a topic. Sure, country and Disco can be done, but Dianne Warren? Billy Joel? They are both phenomenal musicians/composers, but I can't get into an R&B type like Fantasia or Dianna singing Billy, or George singing a Warren tune. I know these themes are supposed to shw versatility, but certain weeks have topics far too narrow to judge everyone correctly. I would love to see:

Matt..doing anything that shows he has range
John...doing anything above a whisper
Jennifer...doing something that I can't hear in church
Camile...quitting the competition cuz she always looks ticked off about something

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AugustGirl 11534 desperate attention whore postings
DAW Level: "Playboy Centerfold"

03-19-04, 07:09 AM (EST)
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14. "Dweezil?"
Dweezil has big teeth, beady little eyes, hairy backs, spiny toes, and is prone to stealing eggs from chicken coops?!?!

Who knew?


I still lvoe him anway.

*scritches* for our very own big teeth, beady little eyed, hairy back, spiny toed Devious Weasel

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