Hallucinating over Madonna

Only great artists need apply.

Mediocre performers send us to sleep. Great artists sweep us into kaleidoscope worlds where we either twirl in ecstasy – or cower in the darkness of our fetid minds.

eraserheadsMillennial youth with no memory of a dictator are probably also clueless on the history of Tito Sotto, who once slipped into a void where he mistook Eraserhead lyrics for satanic verses.

The Heads were in good company, right up there with the gods of rock and roll.

Sotto, even in delirium, wasn’t even capable of an original tale.

Led Zeppelin, for one, had been the subject of fervent denunciation by an evangelical broadcaster named Paul Crouch.

ledzepCrouch, probably a decrypter in some past life, translated “If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow” to this:

“Oh here’s to my sweet Satan. The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan. He will give those with him 666. There was a little tool shed where he made us suffer, sad Satan.”

gagaMuch later, folk who called themselves Christians spied horns, hoofs and scaled wings on the famous figure of Lady Gaga. They demanded the cancellation of her Philippine concert to save the souls of the thousands who’d bought tickets.

And now, here’s a guy, Wyden King, who probably can turn to mist and go through concrete walls and steel trusses.

King emailed journalists, saying the Queen of Pop’s hotel room in Manila had walls painted black.

photo from ABS-CBNNews.com

He heard from that room incantations and curses against our country, never mind that an entire arena rocked in harmony with Madonna Louise Ciccone. 

King’s X-ray eyes also saw fault lines beneath the MOA, with wicked imps dancing and jiving to shake the earth.

He blamed Madonna, not corrupt building contractors, for the deaths in big quake that rocked Taiwan during the week of her concerts there.

photo from ABS-CBNNews.com

He begged us all to pray and storm the heavens so God strikes down the woman he calls “high priestess of the Illuminati.”

He also called on people to trap Jesus’ blood in some giant shaker and rain down red on all of Madonna’s concert props.

I want whatever the guy’s been smoking.

“An intercessor saw huge demons with horns and tails covering that event venue and the place is filled with huge and small dragons and snakes.  He also saw that the satanists have created a HEXAGRAM ALTAR at MOA Arena.  He saw it in the spirit  that they placed sacrificial candles on each point of the hexagram and they are doing an abominable sexual act inviting Bafomet to that place.”

Bafomet or Baphomet. Photo from Wikipaedia commons

Bafomet was an idol the Knights Templar allegedly worshipped. He does look like a groovy concert prop.

King actually asked us to pray so that God would destroy the venue – and all the wicked people in there.

Last I checked, people were streaming out with dopey grins on their faces.

But Francis Tolentino wins the Delusion Medal. The Playgirls should shower him with twerks and kisses for placing them on the same plane with the Queen of Pop.



American Idol: ‘Artists’ shine on Top 10 performance night

Who dares wins — if you got the talent to back up that courage.

A Top Ten night on American Idol is often a make or break event. Faced with so many hummable tunes, some contestants will transform the show’s snazzy stage into some sleazy karaoke joint. Some will choose a great hit and spin it around a bit “to make it their own”. And then there will be the brave ones who will take on the unexpected song.

On a night when the artists forged ahead of the pack, a 16 year-old young woman — still in braces — tamed everyone with the manliest of songs.

Malaya Watson, 16 Photo from Wetpaint.com
Malaya Watson, 16 Photo from Wetpaint.com

Malaya Watson has never received flowers nor has experienced that great HHWW teenage rite of passage (holding hands while walking). Yet with Bruno Mars’ “When I was Your Man,” that lament to things that could have been, she went through the scale of emotions with a pitch-perfect delivery.

Seated throughout on a stool, Malaya eschewed egregious diva runs, throwing just enough power to remind viewers she’s this season’s belter.

She nailed every note.  But what will remain with us are the lines that drop into quiet pools, punctuated with husky murmurs of pain. And her face, ageless, a woman of such great power she doesn’t have to change a word in what’s the modern equivalent of a barroom confession.

Completing the top three are two white boys with guitars and a shared aversion to smiles.

Alex Preston  Photo by Wetpaint.com
Alex Preston Photo by Wetpaint.com

Alex Preston, the pompadoured guy who’s sometimes too precious for his own good, went with One Direction, an uber pop gang of puppies as only the British can make them. Wisely, he chose one of the group’s few songs with a reasonable amount of depth.

Preston infused “Story of My Life” with a smidgen of country crossed with rock and roll. This guy is the strangest thing. He can stand there, hardly acknowledge the crowd. Yet, as J-Lo demands, he can own the stage.

It’s almost like watching MTV, with the camera bringing us into his inner world. Some people are entertainers who will do anything to please the audience. Some people are artists who challenge the audience to take a walk with them. Preston’s with the second group.

I doubt Sam Woolf has the habit of asking people to take a stroll. It probably takes a lot of energy just for Woolf to stay and deal with a world that has demanded so much from him.

Remembering last week’s disastrous “Come Together” —  that really deserved a bottom three result — I cringed on hearing he’d chosen  “We are Young” by Fun and Janelle Monáe.

It’s basically a sly ode to the wild (and slightly addled) ones, those rebels without a cause. The song comes with a gruesome but fascinating video that clobbers anyone who fails to get the lyrics’ message.

Woolf did a nifty that’s all him — the great outsider, inarticulate, with eyes that seem to be on the watch for the first kick of the night. He started the narrative in musing mode.

Keith was right during the auditions. The guy’s pitch is superb. He naturally slides into every note. Maybe there could be more oomph in his movements. But once he got into “we could set the world on fire,” I imagined a horde of gals and guys jumping to it. He also has very sexy deeper notes — check out “so between the drinks and subtle things”.

Woolf’s not going home. That ending? That’ll keep him in the top half of the group. Then he can slay everyone with his original songs, masterpieces of pain. Check him out on YouTube.

Jena Irene Asciutto should be safe with her energetic, confident cover of “Clarity”. It’s the kind of song that makes you move, though none of the melody will stick. (Harry’s right but he could have said it nicer.)

I’d choose Jena’s genuinely fun version of a so-so song over Caleb Johnson’s pretentious take on Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory”. He has a great voice but he’s just too Jack Black. I want to take my rockers more seriously.

Two other female contestants gave almost but-not-quite performances.

Maybe Jessica Meuse really doesn’t want to endorse homicidal behavior. Maybe she should have chosen another song because Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” deals with that and only that.

Or maybe she could have calibrated her smile. A sarcastic smile, check. A semi-leer, check. A manic smile, yes. But a pageant smile? Come on. It’s enough to induce some homicidal behaviour. (And J-Lo should learn to read or, at least, stop pontificating on songs she hasn’t studied. So what if it’s a dancing tune? Has anyone seen Eddy Grant smile while doing “Gimme Hope, Joanna”? Or the Cranberries doing “Zombie”. Or Bob Marley doing “Buffalo Soldier”?

Majesty Rose did well to give Avicci’s “Wake Me Up,” a folksy twist. But she still sounded like a lost Disney soul and has too many affectations and unnecessary notes. Enough with the Bambi eyes. Let’s see some grit, please.

The bottom three include two contestants I really like:

Last week, MK Nicollete’s gauche vibe was just perfect for  “To Make You Feel My Love,”  a Bob Dylan original brought to glory by Adele. Her cover of Pink’s “Perfect” was just painful. I’ve seldom seen body language so antithetical to one’s get-up. She was all over the place, sleepwalking, ambling, treating  the stage was a sidewalk. A pity because she has one of the best voices.

I never really liked Dexter but good ‘ol country dude might just hang on there, the beneficiary of brand loyalty.

The one I’m really scared for is CJ Harris. He just fell apart. It was ugly. And I don’t think he’ll survive Harry’s righteous criticism.

Not a particularly stellar night. The most memorable moment? The Harry-Keith catfight, with the latter sassing the sometimes pedantic Connick with a barrage of multisyllabic words.


Aaah, Judas. Given all that angst, he’s the perfect guy for Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta  aka Lady Gaga

Gaga likes writing about the traps we set for ourselves. It’s natural for her to focus on love-hate relationships: say, between Judas and his Man and between a woman and her bad romance.

For this she is being damned to the hottest spot in hell, the one reserved for card-carrying spawn of Satan. (Now, there’s an album cover design for the ages!)

Public demand prompted organizers of Gaga’s concert to add an extra night. But “Christians” are protesting, citing danger to our souls and society.

The protesters say they will ask the Pasay City Mayor Antonio Calixto to cancel Gaga’s permit for Tuesday if she does anything “lewd” tonight.  Which makes me wonder: How many of our good brothers and sisters have volunteered to risk their souls by spying on the controversial artist? And, while at the business of salvation, have they tried to sniff out the oh-so-wholesome business that thrive in the bars dotting Calixto’s turf?

There’s plenty of talk about “role models”.

Members of the Bible Mode Youth said Lady Gaga’s songs are not appropriate for Filipinos. They also condemn her “almost naked” state of dress and ask Filipinos to boycott the concert. (abs-cbnnews.com)

Former Manila Congressman and founder of Biblemode International, Dr. Benny Abante Jr. moans:

Makikita namin, natin, na hindi lang ito an affront to our belief but it is obscene and very sensual po. At itong si Lady Gaga sinasabi niya that she is a prostitute at a famed hooker. Is that the kind of role model that we would like our young people to be?”

Former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza and lawyer Romulo Macalintal also filed a petition before Calixto for the concert permit to be revoked.

Considering at least two of these saintly gentlemen thought Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was the right role model for Filipino youth, it’s pretty hard to take them seriously. Ditto Abante, who probably thinks every song is a biography. And then there are our local so-called artists, who actually think there is nothing shameful about advising Gaga to change the lyrics of the controversial song.

Being a cooperative soul, I’m presenting these good people a list of 50 things and people more evil than Gaga. Should be enough for three lifetimes of caterwauling. If you can come up with anything else, feel free to comment:

From cnn.com

1) Massacres and warlords

Would-be saviors can 1) go to Muntinlupa and pray and fast until the Ampatuans get the justice they deserve, or 2) deck out in fatigues and rifles to hunt down Jovito Palparan – That should take up at least a decade.

2) Torturers 


They can 1) pray Novenas to hasten the conviction of  this infamous cop who managed post-act to get a teaching job in the police academy, or 2) volunteer as counselors in the wildest, most wooly precincts in this country

3) Pedophiles 

I’m half afraid to ask them to succor the victims. After all, most pedophiles were in change of the souls or minds of their prey. And last we checked, there’s a Benedictine priest wanted in the US being given protection by our holy ones.

4) Rapists

Of course, given that the pious ones think choice of outfit is a reason for mayhem, they might just legislate this as punishment for people who like wearing beach garb off the sands.

5) Traffic in women and children

In the realm of sin, Lady Gaga is a girl scout compared to those who abduct or mislead people and sell them to slavery. Maybe they can start scouring the fleshpots around Mayor Calixto’s city.

6) Plunderers

Then again, if some Bishops and evangelists think the source of charity isn’t important, we know what they’ll think of this…

7) Domestic abuse

Which, in many sermons, seem to rank lower than divorce or separation where sin is concerned…

8) Narco-trade

See source of charity and jueteng and government gambling schemes

9) Exploiters of workers

Catholic orders do not have a stellar record in respecting workers’ rights, do they? Lots of strikes in their schools, broadcast stations, etc…

10) Ignorance

Let’s start with people who screech like exorcists when they wouldn’t recognize the devil if he slapped them with his tail.

Idol Top 7 reprise: No Jessica ‘moment’

First things first. Filipinos in the Philippines have no business voting in American Idol.  That’s just the kind of shortcut that leads to charges of gamemanship.

That’s “the art or practice of winning games by questionable expedients without actually violating the rules,” according to Merriam Webster, or “the use of ethically dubious methods to gain an objective”.

Somebody explain, please. Many took offense last week because they believed — right or wrong — that issues of race pushed Fil-Mex-Am Jessica Sanchez to the bottom of the pool of seven. So why do we think unscrupulous means are okay to salvage national pride? I hope it doesn’t fan a backlash against poor Jessica. Compatriots in the US getting carpal tunnel syndrome for the sake of Jessica is okay. PH-based Pinoys trying to pull a fast one on the system is just plain wrong.   (For the updates go to the bottom of this post.)


Tonight, we have each finalist singing a Billboard Number 1 hit (from 2000 onward) and an old “Soul” tune. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has the best definition of the latter genre:

“Music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of funky, secular testifying.”

Soul can be sublime or just shrill cacophony. The temptation to indulge in trills and runs, grunts and growls, and any number of vocal tricks, could result to caricature  when a singer focuses on form and loses sight of the communion that underpins all gospel music.


So does a second try lead to a Jessica ‘moment’? Does Jessica cause an epiphany among reluctant Idol votes?

Nah. Jessica dishes out more Jessica. Which, basically, means some whistles of admiration for those clear, sweet tones and a lot of scrambling for a hold on the slippery slope of emotional connection.

It doesn’t help that for her first song, Jessica is in a drab, drab, matronly outfit and sporting horrid, morning-after-a-drunken-binge hair. It’s sweet sixteen free-falling into mid-life crisis. Did someone tell her she’d get the tween votes by pretending to be a frazzled mom?

And what’s in the Fil-Mex-Am divalette that unleashes the Jung-ian fantasies of Idol’s stage designers? First, they drizzled the stage with doors. Now, we have umbrellas floating across Jessica’s little patch of heaven.

“Falling,” by Alicia Keys has been done to death in singing tilt but it does have lyrics a grade 6 kid will understand.

I keep on fallin’ / In and out of love / With you
Sometimes I love ya / Sometimes you make me blue / Sometimes I feel good
At times I feel used/ Lovin’ you darlin’/ Makes me so confused

The passion J-Lo feels doesn’t reflect on this side of the TV screen. Maybe because I can barely see Jessica’s eyes ‘neath all that hair. There’s no wrong note, no false emphasis. There’s just nothing that tugs at the heart or the loins — or the mind.

She does better with Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness”. Actually has a gorgeous start. The second verse turned turgid, like a lounge performance at some Holiday Inn. But when she hit the chorus, Jessica cut loose and almost out-growled Elise Testone — and to better effect.

I’m no great fan of embellishment for embellishment’s sake. Here, it looks authentic. It IS her experience and hell, she’s showing genuine expression for once:

oh she may be weary / them young girls they do get wearied / wearing that same old miniskirt dress / but when she gets weary/ you try a little tenderness
oh man i know shes waiting / just anticipating / the thing that you’ll never never possess
no no no/ but while she there waiting / try just a little bit of tenderness /that’s all you got to do

now it might be a little bit sentimental no/ but she has her griefs and cares / but the soft words they are spoke so gentle / and it makes it easier to bear /oh she won’t regret it / them young girls they don’t forget it / love is their whole happiness / but its all so easy / all you got to do is try / try a little tenderness

It’s an “old”song with rather ironic lyrics. But I’ve given up on Jessica being 16; she’s just so different from her peers. For this, she gets the highest respect from lots of us. American Idol is about love, about the fever of adoration, so it’s still touch and go for her. She can take comfort, however, that respect and admiration usually outlive manic love.

Jessica doesn’t steal hearts tonight, but that last, fierce “tenderness” gives enough capital for safety. Hopefully. But I won’t bet on it.


If America still sends Joshua Ledet to the bottom 3, they might as well close down Idol.

Joshua is in perfect form, vocally, both in Fantasia’s “I Believe” and Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come”. He also comes cloaked with a dignity that no amount of humiliation by tone-deaf tweens will ever shake.

But more than that, Joshua comes with a history. He comes with Memory, with the collective soul of every one who’s ever been told that color or gender or religion or status means the end of the line. There is disappointment in those eyes, lots of pain, some fear. Above all, there is faith. That things come to pass. That tomorrow will be better. That the cruelties are not a reflection of him but of the people who do not know any better. This is Truth, hard and eternal.

This is Joshua’s night. He pays respect to the burdens of the ages, absorbs them, distills them and then shares these with us — gives honor through his restraint. The ending IS an ending, a climax, a closure.

Whatever happens tomorrow — I don’t think there’s the same kind of organized frenzy for Joshua as there is now for Jessica — will not change that fact that tonight, this young man stood way above the rest of his peers.


Skylar Laine is about Jessica’s age and doesn’t have the latter’s impeccable notes. But what she has is character and a knowledge of self that is both scary and admirable. So she turns zero-fashion sense into a lovable quirk and makes a badge of courage of those nasal tones.

She is also a natural story-teller and transforms Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” into a rousing anthem for dem folks from the country music states. And she shares this in so inclusive a manner that you forget there is blue and red. There is only this girl with the belly laugh, someone with delightful secrets and perfectly willing to let us in for the ride.

Jessica will sell records. Skylar will fill arenas. And she’ll sell those records, too.

So will Phillip Phillips, who can turn a song inside out like nobody since David Cook.

He’s a classic, Phillip is, a throw back to those taciturn heroes of yore. You get a feeling every week he’s preparing for High Noon.

But he’s also got a perfectly modern groove and tonight he is frisky and playful and skims through all those half-notes in Usher’s “You’ve Got It Bad” like Don Juan would with the ladies’ hearts.

A very smart arrangement, sensuous with a touch of the blues and a hint of jazz, yes accessible enough for the kids. This is the best he’s ever sung; the voice is strong, controlled, down to the seductive whisper.

But he really sizzles in “Midnight Hour,” ditching his guitar, shimmying all over. He flashes megawatt grins and just all-around sex appeal. It’s the kind of performance that causes Dads to lock daughters in their rooms — and then turn around to discover Mom has clambered out of the window.

When he hits, “I’m gonna wait till the stars come out to see the twinkle in your eyes,” you can imagine a sea of girls rushing towards Georgia. Also, he seems positively joyful tonight. Is Heejun back in town?

The young men — and their older sisters and moms — are for Phillip. This scruffy guy who can blush, wears a Henley and gets christened Da Bomb will survive Colton’s tweens. Shares top dog status tonight with Joashua.


Uh oh. Tough luck for Jessica. Hollie just staged a comeback. Kinda.

Cavanagh’s finally showing her tough side. Nothing wrong with her cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” — it’s the kind of song that makes her furrowed brows seem profound. She does nothing much to Adele; there’s still very little creativity in Hollie. But her fans like her because she’s a mimic with a good, strong voice and that’s what we get — plaka with half of Adele’s fire. But it could just get her through. It’s not a disaster for once.

Hollie, however, totally misses the point in “Son of a Preacher Man” and is back in the clueless state that mistakes volume for emotional depth.

Colton Dixon, on the other hand, over reaches with “September”. Whatever possessed him to transform fun into emo? And in the wrong key, too.

Still, Colton rocked Gaga’s “Bad Romance”. Yes, even in the low notes where he managed to sound like the robot brother of that girl from Glee. Colton in black , striped tails and crimson leather pants. A cross between an innocent vampire and some whorehouse impressario, right up to the splash of red on the blond locks. And an all girl band! Very clever guy, very strategic, Colton is. Just a little too slick. But what do tweens know? They’ll probably keep him safe, too, which would be truly bad lack for…. awwwww.

As for Elise Testone, one couldn’t have it worse. 1) Phillip follows your performance. 2)Your dog is dying and you ask Ryan if that’s what he wants to hear for cheap thrills? 3) You sing “No One” and even all the fans blowing translucent panels every which way can’t make up for the lack of sensuality.

I though she had great vocals on Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” but ruined it with the usual affectations and a silly, literal choreography that raised nightmare images of Steven Tyler’s casting couch.

But here’s what will really send Elise home tomorrow: 1) Her sour look in the face of criticism — while Colton was cool; 2)That disastrous confession about over-thinking the songs. Oh, and 3) the equally disastrous admission of her small-time “lounge” roots.

Update: With riffs on DialIdol numbers

Just read this blog that parses out numbers, percentages and raw data included, from DialIdol.com Simply put, the author, hughc, says factoring staying power on the basis of percentages isn’t enough. That ups the margin of error. One has to look at the raw numbers — meaning the actual numbers of votes cast, and not just the busy signals.

For this week, this is what it says:

“One thing to notice this week is that Jessica jumped from the bottom of the busy percentage to the top and is now duking it out with Hollie, Elise and Joshua for the highest busy percentage. If you look at the raw numbers, though, Hollie has far and away the most busy signals, almost 1,300 already which is much more than Phillip had last week (the one with the most busy signals). That means Hollie’s fans are power voting via telephone quite diligently this week and she is probably pretty safe.  Elise and Jessica also have almost 1,000 busy signals so far tonight, so I bet they are pretty safe too. The contestant with the lowest actual number of busy signals right now is Skylar Laine with only 249 and Colton only has 266 despite having over 6,000 votes. It will be interesting to see what the final numbers are tomorrow morning after the west coast people get to vote.”

Now, that’s interesting. Possible reasons:

1) Hollie has consistently been getting a huge bloc of votes.

2) Jimmy Iovine’s guilt-trip riff must have hit Elise’s hometown peeps.

3) On a very good night, Phillip can swamp Colton’s wall.

4) Where are Skylar’s country folk? My guess: Their aspirational side will go for Hollie. Maybe they want to hear you sing of heartache but look like a winner. And Hollie does have a voice could easily switch to country and then there’s that face and form. Country’s piss and vinegar side naturally gravitates to Phillip.