June 9, 2013 - Tony Awards Flashbacks: Cinderella, Virginia Woolf, Motown and The Rascals
Each of the last five decades were musically represented in some way during the 67th annual Tony Awards, broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall. A revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, a 1957 television presentation starring Julie Andrews that returned to TV in a 1965 version with Lesley Ann Warren, ranked among the contenders and picked up an award for Best Costume Design of a Musical. The 1962 stage play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? made a more spectacular return, winning two awards including Best Revival of a Play. Cast members of Motown: The Musical showed up to dance and sing classics by The Temptations ("Get Ready"), Martha and the Vandellas ("Dancing in the Street") and The Jackson Five ("I Want You Back" and "The Love You Save"), all faithful to the originals. Non-nominee The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream, a limited-run Broadway presentation produced by Steven Van Zandt, made an impression as all four original members of The Rascals (Felix Cavaliere, Gene Cornish, Eddie Brigati and Dino Danelli) hit the Radio City stage for a performance of their 1966 chart-topper "Good Lovin'."
May 17, 2013 - Candice Glover Goes "Somewhere" No Female Singer Has Gone in Six Years
American Idol has wrapped another season, with honors going to obvious frontrunner Candice Glover. During the final week's competition against worthy opponent Kree Harrison, she brought back the Ben E. King hit "I (Who Have Nothing)" from several weeks earlier. The song is closely associated with Jordin Sparks, coincidentally the last woman to win the Idol crown six years ago. Fan reaction suggests the West Side Story classic "Somewhere," spectacularly performed by Candice the previous week, was the season's highlight and her turning point on the road to victory.
April 19, 2013 - Latest Flat-Screen Hum-Along Songs: Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon," Laine's "Rawhide"
"Fly Me to the Moon" (originally titled "In Other Words") has been getting the high profile treatment lately by way of Frank Sinatra's 1964 recording with The Count Basie Orchestra on a TV commercial for Chevrolet's 2014 Impala. Meanwhile, if you've got 'rollin', rollin', rollin...' stuck in your head, thanks goes to Google Chrome's current ad featuring the theme from the 1959 western series "Rawhide," infamously sung by Frankie Laine.
American Idol contestant Janelle Arthur, one of this season's all-female top five, gets "mad props" (as judge Randy Jackson would say) for thinking out of the box, boldly declaring she's no "Dumb Blonde" with her performance of Dolly Parton's first big country hit from 1967. It didn't prevent her ousting from the competition, but was a clever song choice nonetheless.
April 10, 2013 - Memphis Soul Shakes the White House, Idol Revisits Bacharach-David Classics
President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed an all-star lineup of singers and musicians to the White House this week, celebrating the soul music of Memphis, Tennessee. Booker T. and Steve Cropper of Booker T. and the MG's headlined the show starring Sam Moore of Sam and Dave, Mavis Staples, William Bell, blues harpist Charlie Musselwhite and several contemporary southern artists including Alabama Shakes and Justin Timberlake. The concert hits TV screens April 16 as part of the In Performance at the White House series on PBS. Moore and 2012 American Idol finalist Joshua Ledet teamed up for a performance of "Soul Man" that would make Sam's former partner, the late Dave Prater, proud. President Obama announced the traditional anthem, "Hail to the Chief," would henceforth be replaced with "Green Onions," Booker T.'s 1962 instrumental smash. It was a joke, of course, but...hey, why not?
American Idol recycled another previous theme show this week with the music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David providing the material for the remaining six contestants, all born many years after the heyday of the songwriting superstars. It was mainly a duel of Dionne Warwick's hits, as Angie Miller, Amber Holcomb, Janelle Arthur and Candice Glover opted for, respectively, "Anyone Who Had a Heart," "I Say a Little Prayer," "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" and Don't Make Me Over." Kree Harrison chose B&D's "What the World Needs Now is Love," a hit for Jackie DeShannon in 1965. All five delivered respectable, if not excellent, performances. Last man standing Lazaro Arbos, on the other hand, rendered "(They Long to Be) Close To You" (introduced by Richard Chamberlain in 1963 and made famous by The Carpenters in 1970) unintelligible.