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Why Was JLo ‘American Idol’ Announcement So Low-Key?

Posted by Gil Kaufman On August - 11 - 2011

Jennifer Lopez

The last time “American Idol” had news about Jennifer Lopez, they announced it with glitter and much fanfare on the “Idol” Hollywood stage. When the singer/actress joined the cast of the show last year there was much pomp and circumstance.

But on Wednesday when “Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe confirmed that JLo would be back for another season alongside fellow newbie Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler and old dawg Randy Jackson, there was no confetti.

In fact, there wasn’t much fanfare at all. No press release from Lopez or the “Idol” camp, no media splash about her contract and, oddly, a “no comment” from a Fox spokesperson when MTV News asked for confirmation of the re-hire.

What gives?

“I was quite surprised that it wasn’t such a big deal,” said “Naughty But Nice” columnist Rob Shuter, who did publicity for Lopez earlier in the decade. “The last time they did it with a glitter explosion with Steven and Randy on the ‘Idol’ set, but they didn’t do that this time, which leads me to think that the rumors that the cast is still not happy about it [her reported salary].”

Considering that Tyler was the break-out star last season, Shuter suspects that the hard rock icon is angry that he signed a multi-year contract for what is said to be considerably less than Lopez’s reported $20 million per year. “Her signing for one year was genius,” he said. “He’s probably pissed that he’s sitting next to someone who is doing the same job as him, and not as well and he’s doing it for half the money.”

Shuter suspects that it’s that bitterness that may explain why there was no fanfare this time. We already knew Randy and Steven were coming back, so perhaps to appease the egos of the other two, there was no press conference to announce the JLo news because there was no way to do it without bruising egos. “If they did a press conference with all the judges and they’re there just to announce the Jennifer news they wouldn’t like it and if she did a solo conference what does that say about the other judges?” Shuter said.

That might also explain why the announcement was made on friendly turf – host Ryan Seacrest’s radio show – and downplayed a bit. Also, at a time when people are suffering financially, the stock market is tanking and so many are out of work, Shuter said there might have been something unseemly about making a big deal about Lopez’s lavish salary for a gig that basically involves two days of work a week. “There’s something grotesque about that,” he said. “It’s not something you cheer from the rooftops these days.”

A spokesperson for “Idol” had no further comment on the announcement and Lopez’s spokesperson did not return calls for confirmation.

Summer Splitsville: Fans React To Lopez’s Split From Marc Anthony

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Randy Jackson Introduces Us All To Grace

Posted by MTV News On May - 18 - 2011

What with his judging duties on “American Idol,” his executive-producer gig on “America’s Best Dance Crew,” and his eternal quest to own every single cardigan in the universe, you’d think Randy Jackson wouldn’t have time to take a new artist under his wing. But, you’d be wrong.

Because when Jackson stopped by MTV earlier this week, sure, he spoke about both “A.I.” and “ABDC,” but what he really wanted to talk about was his latest discovery: a Russian-born, L.A.-based dance artist named Grace.

Seems, in recent months, Jackson’s been thinking about dabbling in the world of dance, and, in Grace — and her debut single, “When The Lights Go Down” (which he co-produced) — he’s found an artist he believes can make a big splash here in the states.

“Her song is hot man!” he enthused. “It’s a hot record!”

Yes! Hot! After the jump, check out what else Jackson had to say about his new artist, “When The Lights Go Down,” and the inherent hotness therein.

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‘American Idol’ Elimination Predictions: Will Lauren Alaina Be Home In Time For Prom?

Posted by Gil Kaufman On May - 12 - 2011

After a season of blowing smoke and patting contestants on the head like they were the ninth place finishers in a eight-person third grade decathlon, things finally got really real on “American Idol” on Wednesday night.

When Randy Jackson went all-in on Haley Reinhart after her screechy, hoarse mess of a Michael Jackson cover, the singer hit back with withering stares and some backstage dissing of her own, cranking up the tension on an otherwise vanilla season.

Normally, that kind of sassy backtalk is a prescription for a one-way ticket to Iowa Cattle Fair 2012 Apple Dumpling Stage opening act-ville. But there’s a part of me that thinks Haley’s rants and eye-rolls might have earned her some support from a fanbase that is so used to seeing nothing but marshmallow kisses and unicorn hugs from the judges that they will be incensed at the slight tinge of negativity.

Don’t get it twisted. She was awful, and while her second performance was much better, at this point that’s like saying that “Attack of the Clones” was better than “The Phantom Menace,” i.e. they both sucked, but one sucked just a bit less.

All that said, I don’t think Haley will go home tonight. I think her fans will rally, and it will be Lauren Alaina who gets the boot. Why? She was fine, but her little girl at the prom in a puffy dress and cute smile shtick is so bland and old it might just have lulled her fans into complacency. Most of my expert panel agreed with me.

“I think that thanks to Scotty’s 9/11 pandering and James’ [Journey] pimpage, Lauren and her shoulder pads are on the way out,” opined Village Voice Music Editor Maura Johnston.

“Idol” blogger MJ Santilli said her gut told her that Reinhart was going through my Twitter feed, and the comments on my blog … I’m seeing a huge groundswell of sympathy for Haley.”

It’s possible the snit fit could bounce her, but Santilli also thinks Lauren may have flown too far under the radar this week. “Lauren was nearly eliminated last week when she wound up in the bottom two, and her demise may be complete this week,” she said.

“Between Scotty McCreery’s 9/11 pandering and the shameless way the producers pimped James Durbin, (he gets the first AND last performance spot? And once again he’s not called out on his inability to stay on pitch?) we’re definitely losing a girl this week. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Lauren Alaina will be eliminated this week.”

MTV News’ own Jim Cantiello saw it differently, though. He said Haley’s list of sins included not just sassy backtalk, but picking a “terrible” Michael Jackson song that was “heavy on the growl and light on the melody.” He suspected most viewers agree with Randy’s comments and that thanks to an odd performance order shift that put Haley first in the second half of the show, a lot of time elapsed between her killing it with her Lieber and Stoller song and the opening of voting lines.

“She sang Jordin Sparks’ signature song not as good as Jordin, and her ‘rising from the ashes’ storyline was one we all just saw last week,” he said. Unless … Randy’s relentless needling rubbed viewers the wrong way and by constantly harping on her the judges have inspired fans to pick their season 10 underdog.

To recap, here’s our prediction for this weeks elimination. Agree with our picks? Let us know your list in the comments below.

» Gil Kaufman/MJ Santilli/Maura Johnston: Lauren Alaina (out)
» Jim Cantiello: Haley Reinhart (out)

Watch our experts debate Haley Reinhart’s fate on “Idol Party Live!” And for all things “Idol,” check out MTV News’ “American Idol” page, where you’ll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.”

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Adele, ‘Jersey Shore’ Take Over This Week’s ‘Late Night Lineup’

Posted by Kyle Anderson On February - 22 - 2011

Remarkably, several of the late night talk shows did not take President’s Day (Monday, February 21) off, so if you’re reading this right now you have already missed the likes of Adele (who absolutely smoldered during a performance on Monday night’s “The Late Show With David Letterman”), Good Charlotte (who rocked the early morning crowd on “Live! With Regis & Kelly”) and Ed Helms (who cracked up everybody during a lively interview on “Conan”). But despite the commitment from a handful of hosts (including everybody on cable), the bulk of Monday night’s shows were repeats. Fret not, though, because the rest of the week has a fantastic parade of fresh celebrities and killer musical performances as the winter grinds on.

“The Late Show With David Letterman” rounds out its week with visits from “Parks & Recreation” star Amy Poehler (Tuesday, February 22), baseball legend Hank Aaron (Wednesday, February 23) and can’t-miss performances by Bright Eyes (Thursday, February 24) and newcomer Jessica Lea Mayfield (Friday, February 25). Over on “The Tonight Show,” Jay Leno chats with “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson (Wednesday), “Jersey Shore” star DJ Pauly D (Thursday) and “The Adjustment Bureau” actress Emily Blunt (Friday). Leno will also welcome the likes of Hanson (Thursday) and new Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Darlene Love (Friday) to his musical stage.

Jimmy Kimmel has some great musical moments coming up on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” this week, including stops from Cake (Tuesday), the Twilight Singers (Wednesday) and Adele (Thursday). Not to be outdone, Jimmy Fallon also has some killer music, highlighted by the return of Bel Biv Devoe (Wednesday) and a performance by the always-wild Destroyer (Tuesday). “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” mostly stick to politics this week, though you should probably check out Jon Stewart’s conversation with Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night. Conan O’Brien rounds out the week on “Conan” with Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino (Tuesday) and Ricky Gervais tag-team partner Stephen Merchant (Thursday). And if you stay up late on Tuesday night, you’ll be treated to a performance by 30 Seconds to Mars on “Lopez Tonight.”

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‘American Idol’ Recap: Los Angeles Underwhelms

Posted by Jim Cantiello On February - 4 - 2011

Was Thursday night’s (February 3) episode of “American Idol” the worst ever?!

That was the collective kvetch on the Internet after season 10′s Los Angeles auditions aired. Could that bold declaration actually be true? Let’s break down the hour and take a closer look.

Here’s everything that was awesome on Thursday night’s episode: Randy Jackson’s gold shoes.

Here’s everything that made me want to personally recreate Butthole Surfers’ Electriclarryland album cover: Everything else.

Granted, six hours into the season, we’re all suffering from Audition Episode Fatigue Syndrome (or AEFS). (Symptoms include daydreaming about Paris Bennett, engaging in a Twitter party with an “Idol” winner’s dog, dizziness, nausea and having the sudden urge to explore the 600 section of your cable package.) But good TV trumps being burned out. Case in point: The “Real Housewives” series. I feel like I’ve been watching this franchise continuously for three years now, but as soon as one of those walking facelifts calls her sister an alcoholic in the back of a limousine, I’m jonesin’ for more.

The problem with Thursday’s episode? The good singers weren’t amazing, and the bad auditions weren’t fantastically bad. The 60-minute ordeal was limper than season six contestant Garrett Haley’s anemic “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.” Even J. Lo complained that a contestant lacked balls at one point. (Yet she was so quick to give Jacee Badeaux a Golden Ticket a few weeks ago. Curious.)

Adding insult to injury, the producers opened the show with a recap of the best their favorites so far and then promised “the best talent we’ve ever had.” Well, Nigel Lythgoe, if a belly dancer with an addiction to blue eyeliner is the best “Idol” has to offer, let’s just put a fork in season 10 and save our energy for “The X Factor.” Don’t tell me I’m about to eat caviar and present me with gerbil poop.

That’s not to say I didn’t perk up when delusional (and rejected) Victoria Garrett hissed, “Everybody can’t sing like [cue the sarcastic handmade quotation marks] J. Lo.” (Burn!) And I’ll admit that I chortled when the chin-strapped/mustached/sweaty CEO of Matthew Scott Frankel Produc … tions deadpanned, “I got a compilation that features Chaka Khan.” (No disrespect to a legend, but having heard Chaka sing live recently, I wouldn’t brag about that booking, Matthew.)

But you know you’re desperate when your best audition is a MySpace contestant flown into Los Angeles from New York. (That makes perfect sense!) Once in the room, Karen Rodriguez tried a million different vocal tricks as she dazzled the judges on “You Give Good Love.” But if she continues to use a kitchen-sink approach with her voice, “Idol” will have to issue this warning before every episode: “The audio equivalent of strobe lights may be used during this performance.” Remind me to stock up on wooden spoons, because my eardrums are going to have a seizure every week.

Fun fact: Karen once sang in front of J. Lo during one of those silly “TRL” games that put weeping superfans and secretly disinterested celebrities in the same room. (The tape is on the way from the MTV library. I’ve got to see this.)

There was another MTV celeb in Los Angeles: 23-year-old Tim Halperin recently had a song featured on an episode of “The Real World: New Orleans.” Score! If there’s one thing that has been missing from “Idol,” it’s a guy whose songs perfectly underscore drunken co-eds three-way kissing. Here’s hoping Halperin has a ditty called “That Rash Looks Dangerous,” because MTV needs tracks for the upcoming “Jersey Shore” European vacation.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t blown away by Halperin’s audition. Why did he pick a tuneless Maroon 5 song that showed off how unremarkable his falsetto is? It reminded me of Tim Urban’s “Apologize.” (Shudder, then open your mouth while no noise comes out.) So why am I excited that Tim’s advancing to Hollywood? Because he bantered with J. Lo about her age and she cracked, “I’m young enough for you. Don’t worry.” Fun! I’d say screwball comedy legend Preston Sturges is smiling down from heaven, but I have it on good authority that God is a bit of a remote hog, and He never misses “Antiques Roadshow.”

It pains me to even write down the name Tynisha “I Come With My Own Microphone” Roches, whose painted-on eyebrows, funky bangs and half-hearted Sinatra homage sucked out what little joy I had left in my auditioned-out heart. And don’t even get me started on Isaac Rodriguez. “I didn’t tell my mom I dropped out of college, but I’ll be an even bigger waste of oxygen by hijacking ‘Idol’ for five minutes with my boring tone-deaf warbling!” At least his equally terrible buddy Daniel Gomez had a wacky haircut to gawk at. (Imagine Florence Henderson fronting Panic! at the Disco.)

As if Thursday’s lack of talent wasn’t frustrating me enough already, then Nigel Lythgoe went and tweeted, “I agree LA auditions were in general awful. A lot made me laugh. It just shows you that you can never tell were [sic] the talent will come from?” Oh no he didn’t!

If the talent was so awful, why were we expected to sit through it? It appears entertainment value was compromised in order to fill a network episode order. They could have taken an opportunity to kill an audition stop and replace it with another Hollywood week episode to show off more talent. Imagine that! Instead, producers slapped together this torturous hour and said, “Why switch it up now? I’m too tired to rethink how these audition episodes are structured. I found some of it funny. America will too! Now if only we could include flashbacks to Lauren Elaina and Jacee Badeux in this episode!”

OK, rant over.

Did you think tonight’s show was the worst audition episode ever? (Even the token eccentric elderly nut was a head-scratching snoozer!) Did the charming brother duo Mark and Aaron Gutierrez make you wonder if Sanjaya and Shyamali would have auditioned together if given the chance back in season seven? When they re-aired a snippet of Lauren Alaina’s audition, did you see her (stage)mom mouthing the words behind her? As for J. Lo, were you pro-turban or anti-turban? Do you have any suggestions on how to combat Audition Episode Fatigue Syndrome? Leave a comment below, and for more “Idol” moral support, follow me on Twitter @jambajim.

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