Spring is just around the corner, and that also means were knee-deep into the thick of American Idol season.
I quit following AI somewhere around the time of that Sanjaya guy, myself. So all I can really tell you about this year's karaoke fest is that the finalists include a blind guy, and a girl with the unlikely name of Lil' Rounds (sounds more like the next Biggie Smalls, than the new Beyonce to me) — who I've heard is actually quite good.
No matter, though. Cause a new American Idol winner inevitably means the return of past AI champs, and this week we've got two of 'em.
Kelly Clarkson is back with what we're told is a less rockin' and more "poppin'" new disc called All I Ever Wanted. Led by the brassy hit single "My Life Would Suck Without You," this should return Clarkson to the mega-seller ranks. Her fellow former Idol champ Taylor Hicks is also back with the grey-haired soul of The Distance, which was reviewed on BC earlier this week by our own Connie Phillips.
Ex-Soundgarden/Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell's new solo album is called Scream, but don't expect to hear much of the primordial grunge-metal of his previous bands here. The new album unites Cornell with R&B/hip-hop/pop wunderkind Timbaland, and is being called a "post-grunge midlife crisis" by at least some of the decidedly-mixed reviews we've already been seeing.
Rounding out this week's picks is the new album from hip-hop/R&B tough guy The Dream, as well as the new one from Luka Bloom (reviewed here last week by BC's Bill Sherman).
El Bicho is as excited as a giddy schoolgirl over the new one from sophisticated jazz ingenue Madeleine Peyroux, and is here to tell you all about that. But first, Donald Gibson's pick is the first ever concert DVD/Blu-ray release from the great Stevie Wonder.
Every avid music fan keeps in mind a list of artists that he or she would drop everything — but has never had the chance — to see in concert. I’m not talking about the run-of-the-mill productions that roll into the same towns each year, but rather those rare, special events — whether a stop on a once-in-a-lifetime tour or a one-night-only affair — that inspire us on road trips or cross-country flights. For nearly three decades, literally for as long as I could remember — until September 14, 2007 at the Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta — Stevie Wonder topped my list.
Recorded over two nights last year at London’s O2 Arena, Live At Last — an apt title if ever there was one — now makes its way onto DVD and Blu-ray, marking the Motown legend’s first-ever official concert film. Chock full of classics that are at turns romantic (“My Cherie Amour,” “You Are The Sunshine of My Life”), idealistic (“Visions,” “As”), and anthemic (“Living For The City,” “Higher Ground”), the performance covers Wonder’s illustrious career. And for me, it underscores why I’d always longed to witness Stevie Wonder in concert…for once in my life.