American Idol: 5 of 24 revealed

This is when it must really be hard to be Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez or Steven Tyler. The talent pool for this season’s “American Idol” is one of the best ever, thanks in part (sorry, I’m going to say it) to Simon Cowell not being there to choose good looks over vocal talent. So now, when you get 61 very talented singers and have to pare that down to 24, it’s a difficult task.

Anyway, last night’s episode began with the contestants being bused to Las Vegas to the Mirage, where a running of a Beatles show is behind shown. They were given 24 hours to learn a song and working with AI vocal coaches before performing in front of the judges. But first, they had to sing in front of industry veteran and AI exec this season, Jimmy Iovine. Iovine and his producer friends were brutally honest with the singers, which is something some of them really needed. They also were “encouraged” by “vocal coach from hell” Peggy. Ha!

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“Scrambled eggs…oh, my baby, how I love your eggs…”

Any Beatle fan worth their salt knows that when Paul McCartney first wrote the music for “Yesterday,” the song had some decidedly less poignant lyrics. Tonight on NBC…well, tomorrow, really, since it’s on “The Late Show”…Jimmy Fallon coaxes Macca to join him at the mike to sing those original lyrics for the first time anywhere.

  

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It was 30 years ago today, sadly

Today is the thirtieth anniversary of the murder of John Lennon. It was a bummer at the time and it’s depressing even now. In any case, it’s an opportune time to present a clip of Lennon and his little back-up band performing one of his most underrated songs.

Keeping up my Bob Dylan theme from yesterday, it’s worth noting that this was famously Lennon’s effort at writing a Dylan song. Of course, it came out a Lennon song, but that’s kind of the point.

Also, I never fail to marvel at how well these musical sequences from 1965’s “Help” — a movie that on the whole didn’t hang together at all well — were shot by the great director, Richard Lester. It’s a just about perfect sequence in my view. Coincidentally, MUBI pointed the way to this Look Magazine interview from the set of Lennon’s one and only solo starring role, also with Lester, “How I Won the War” from 1967. It was obviously hot on the heels of the “bigger than Jesus” craziness, so there’s the inevitable discussion of religion and spirituality.

Perhaps Leonard Gross thought he was just penning the usual cliches we writers write about controversial and talented creators when he wrote the following. Still, his wrap-up turned out to be a lot more right than he probably realized.

The hysteria that surrounds him can no longer disguise the presence of a mind. His ideas are still rough, but his instincts are good and his talent, extraordinary. You may love him, you may loath him, but this you should know: As performer, composer, writer or talker, he’ll be around for a long, long time.

  

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Happy belated cine-birthday Mr. Lennon, where ever you are (updated)

I’m off by one day, but I thought I’d still celebrate the 70th birthday of John Lennon with a couple of his best songs as depicted in “Yellow Submarine.” For starters, the highly underrated “Hey Bulldog”

[UPDATE: If this segment isn’t familiar to you — it wasn’t to me — that’s because, according to Wikipedia, it was cut from the original American theatrical release and only restored in 1999 re-release.]

A lot of people used to make fun of the deliberate naivete of this classic tune, but it just gets more moving every year. I think its appropriate that this contains subtitles in “the language of love.”

After the flip…as far as I know, they never played in movie theaters, but I’ve got what I think are cinematically definitive versions of both of these classic Lennon/Beatles tunes.

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Mad Men 4.10 – Do You Promise Not To Tell?

Joan wants a chat with Roger…and the talk is serious: “I’m late. Very late.” I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at how Roger immediately did his best to calm her down, speaking to her in a tender voice and assuring her that he’d take care of everything. His doctor, however, isn’t nearly as tolerant of the fact that Roger’s gotten Joan pregnant, but he still passes along information so that she can get an abortion…if she decides to actually get one, that is.
The mere fact that Roger broached the possibility of Joan keeping the baby made me sure that we were going to spend the rest of the episode playing “will she or won’t she,” and I was right on the money about that. Even now, Joan’s impossible to read. I hate to believe that she actually went through with it ’til we get formal confirmation on the matter, but she probably did, as it would go against standard “Mad Men” storytelling for her to do something as cliched as say, “I changed my mind, I’m keeping the baby.”

Lee Garner, Jr. is back…but not for long. After the Christmas episode, you’d think they’d be glad to see him go away for good, but since Lucky Strike is basically the client that’s keeping Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce afloat, their departure could literally sink the firm. It’s a little disconcerting to see Roger shift from angry into being legitimately upset. Will he be able to save SCDP in 30 days…or before he has another heart attack?

Isn’t it amazing how the promise of a ticket to see the Beatles at Shea Stadium – which dates the events of the episode as taking place near August 15, 1965 – can make up for years of half-assed parenting? But, my God, even Betty’s icy exterior cracked when Don told her where he was taking Sally…and, perhaps even more impressively, mother and daughter actually shared a smile. Unfortunately, the way Don kept having to put pressure on Harry about the tickets, coupled with Harry’s expression while assuring him that he’d get the tickets, had me worried almost immediately that the grand event wouldn’t go off as planned. Little did I know that it’d be the only thing that would pan out.

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