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17 “American Idol” Performances I Keep Coming Back To: Celebrating 17 Seasons of the Hit TV Show

17 is magic when it comes to American Idol.

For 16 seasons, this music competition show has provided a platform for aspiring singers from all over America – and the world – to build fanbases and launch their careers in entertainment. From the original idol Kelly Clarkson and chart-topping favorites like Adam Lambert, Jennifer Hudson, Tori Kelly, David Cook and David Archuleta to game-changers that charm you with their uniqueness like Haley Reinhart, Michael J. Woodard and Catie Turner, plenty of American Idol alumni have been able to find steady work in the world of showbiz and media.

After its 15-season run on FOX that was full of highs and some lows, ABC has taken over and successfully revamped the show into one that is refreshing and new. Fresh after Maddie Poppe’s win last year, Season 17 has officially started last Sunday featuring brand new talents in pursuit of their dreams. To celebrate 17 seasons of American Idol, here’s a list of 17 unforgettable performances by my top favorite idols.

“Bennie and the Jets” ~ Haley Reinhart
One of Idol‘s very best, Haley has gone a long way from her “Oh Darling” audition to preparing for her 4th studio album Lo-Fi Soul (after Listen Up, Better and What’s That Sound) and going platinum with her divine rendition of the Elvis Presley hit “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. She also performs with the Postmodern Jukebox and voices Bill in the Netflix series F is for Family. “Bennie and the Jets” was the Idol performance that gained her a massive fanbase. And it still remains a CLASSIC.

“Golden Slumbers” ~ Michael J. Woodard
Michael has a super versatile voice, charisma and a bigger-than-life personality that makes him another Idol great, one deserving of millions of records. He’s able to turn every song into gold and put his own original spin on it. The ability to go from a high-energy range to a soft, pure, gentle tone makes all his performances wonderful treats. One of his captivating moments was his uplifting rendition of the Beatles classic “Golden Slumbers”. You just can’t help but adore him and his sincerity.

“Music of the Night” ~ David Cook
You can always count on Mr. Cook to transform a tune that you’ve heard tons of times into something new and radio-worthy. One of Idol‘s most daring contestants (and my favorite winner ever), David’s amazing rock vocal and songwriting prowess always add depth to his music, from the originals on his album (with This Loud Morning being my top favorite) to the covers he did on Idol and occasionally perform at his own concerts. His version of the “Phantom of the Opera” classic “Music of the Night” was one of the performances that solidified him as a contender and is still worth a listen.

“You’re So Vain” ~ Brooke White
Brooke changed my life and was the very first person to inspire me to pursue music and songwriting. Everything I do that is music-related, I owe it all to her. What a wonderful singer-songwriter and a lovely soul. Season 7 was the first time I watched Idol from beginning to end, and Brooke has always added sunshine to my days with her Carole King and Carly Simon vibe, unique tone and California cool. Up until now, I would still play her “You’re So Vain” on repeat.

“Shop Around” ~ David Archuleta
He may have been seventeen during his time on Idol, but David Archie has always had it in the bag to deliver groundbreaking, heartwarming performances week after week. A total pro from Day 1! Whether singing behind the piano or with a plain mic, his voice is pure magic. “Shop Around” was a super fun David Archie performance and showcased his youthful side. Always great to look back on!

“Crazy on You” ~ Carly Smithson
With a haunting Evanescence-like tone that’s out-of-this-world and an Irish charm that casts a spell on viewers, Carly can easily switch from a high-energy performance to one that is quiet but commanding. Her rock band’s record We Are the Fallen and bubblegum pop solo debut album from back in her younger years are still captivating with their contrasting genres. One of my top fave Carly performances from Idol was Heart’s energetic hit “Crazy on You”. Crazy good!!!

“One Rock and Roll Too Many” ~ Syesha Mercado
Syesha is electric! One of the more underrated Idol performers. With the ability to nail both pop and Broadway, Syesha’s star has always meant to shine bright, and Idol was the right platform for her to showcase her talent and sassy, fun persona.

“Rebel Yell” ~ Dalton Rapattoni
Dalton made the final FOX season of Idol worth watching with his creativity in arranging songs. A former member of IM5 and indie band Fly Away Hero, he has always been humble and grounded, focusing purely on his talent and storytelling abilities with every performance. Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” is a Dalton cover I keep coming back to. It was very well-arranged and showcased his unique rock vocal.

“Paint It Black” ~ Siobhan Magnus
What was going to be a dull 9th season after Kris Allen, Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta rocked Season 8 turned out to be the opposite thanks to Siobhan, whose magnetic tone and haunting presence glued the audience to the show. With a killer voice, she made “Paint It Black” one of the best performances ever in Idol history.

“Don’t You Forget About Me” ~ Michael Johns
Gone too soon, the late Michael Johns was able to pair his raspy yet soulful voice and rocker persona with his natural Aussie charm to create music that mattered. His record Heart on My Sleeve is forever a gem that reminds us that beautiful music still exists. From “Across the Universe” and “Dream On” to “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay”, all his Idol performances are worth playing on repeat. “Don’t You Forget About Me” is still one of his best in my book.

“Once Upon a Dream” ~ Catie Turner
Quirky and bubbly, Catie has proven she was more than just another Idol contestant but a singer-songwriter who can write powerful feminist anthems like 21st Century Machine that became her audition song. A fan favorite like Michael J. Woodard in ABC’s first Idol season, she excels in impactful acoustic-based songs. One of her most magical performances was her grand rendition of “Once Upon a Dream” during Disney Night.

“A House is Not a Home” ~ Tamyra Gray
Tamyra’s stunning velvety voice, remarkable beauty and likable, outgoing personality made her a shining star in the first ever Idol show on FOX, proving that she was just as wonderful as Kelly and deserved way better as far as the music industry goes. Her record The Dreamer was full of empowering hits. “A House is Not a Home” will forever be a timeless Tamyra tune from her Idol run.

“I’ll Stand By You” ~ Pia Toscano
With a soaring grand voice, Pia can make every song sparkle like diamonds. Her unjustly elimination was so bittersweet it was the first that made me tear up for nights. The message behind her every song is pure and raw. “This Time” deserves better, and the ethereal “You’ll Be King” is bound to be a Pia classic. Out of all her Idol performances, “I’ll Stand By You” still makes a big impact on me.

“Ain’t No Sunshine” ~ Kris Allen
Just like Adam Lambert who reigned supreme in the electric Season 8, Kris has always brought the magic to the Idol stage with his immense creativity and masterful approach towards every song to make them sound distinctive and new. It all won him the crown in a group full of big-voiced contestants. A superb singer-songwriter, Kris came out of nowhere and made America fall in love with him starting with his gorgeous cover of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” all the way to the finale.

“Vienna” ~ Elise Testone
As a fan of raspy-sounding females, Elise quickly became an instant favorite of mine during Season 11. She’s a master at tackling bluesy, soulful tunes, including Adele’s “One and Only”. “Vienna” remains one of my best-loved Elise covers. Very underrated and deserves more accolades.

“Because the Night” ~ Nick Fradiani
Idol isn’t just about big voices. It can be about having a cool sound and creative way of songwriting. Nick has one of those throwback voices that can easily cross over from pop-rock to the more retro genre. His arrangement of radio hits like “Teenage Dream” displayed his strength as a singer-songwriter who can easily twist songs. “Because the Night” was one of his top Idol highlights.

“I’m Not the Only One” ~ Rayvon Owen
Rayvon will forever be the king of Idol Saves, having survived Bottom 2 week after week in the lives thanks to a social media fan save option that Season 14 was known for. On a more positive note, it made his Idol journey more endearing with every fight resulting in beautiful performances, one of them being “I’m Not the Only One”, making him one of the best male pop singers the show has ever cast.

 

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Non-Cheesy Valentine’s Day Songs That Are Jazzy on the Ears

Cupid has brought Valentine’s Day back to Earth, and you’d want to celebrate February 14 with your loved ones over pancakes and waffles. Whether you’ll be spending it the classic way with your romantic partner or with family members, relatives, and friends (go ahead and call it “Galentine” if you’re a female who’s prepping up for a little get-together with your girl best friends like me and my besties), the right music is bound to add extra flair to your Valentine’s Day.

Looking for good old love songs that are on the jazzy side and not overly sappy, cheesy and sentimental? Add these titles to your playlist, and you’re bound to have a whimsical February 14. All these tunes are best served with chocolates, puddings and a mug of cappuccino, of course.

“It Had To Be You” ~ Harry Connick Jr.
From the iconic Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal rom-com When Harry Met Sally.

“My Baby Just Cares For Me” ~ Jeff Goldblum & The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra feat. Haley Reinhart
Hollywood star Jeff Goldblum tapped into his musical side by making a jazz record with the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra featuring a number of jazz standards. Platinum recording artist and songwriter Haley Reinhart joined him in his version of “My Baby Just Cares For Me”, which became the very first single he promoted from the album.

“S’wonderful” ~ Tony Bennett and Diana Krall
Watch what happens when two jazz greats collaborate on a jazz record. “S’wonderful” is the first track from Tony Bennett and Diana Krall’s newest release Love Is Here To Stay. The whole album would make a delightful Valentine’s Day listen.

“Cheek to Cheek” ~ Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
Once you’re done playing the Fred and Ginger version, swing with Ella and Louis as they show your their take on this cheeky tune.

“Taking a Chance on Love” ~ Renee Olstead
Renee has a special jazz voice, and this lovely song from her self-titled debut album makes a lovely companion for your Valentine’s Day brunch.

“A Lovely Night” ~ Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone
Yes, I know it’s every bit of an anti-love song, but its playful, jazzy flair still makes it perfect for an evening out with your crush, your friends, or better yet, your anti-love. You might even attempt the Sebastian and Mia tap dance the La La Land number is famous for.

“Fly Me To the Moon” ~ Frank Sinatra/Julie London
No matter how many times (and ways) this has been played, “Fly Me To the Moon” will always take you on a grand trip to the moon. Here are two unforgettable versions of the jazz standard by Mr. Sinatra and Ms. London.

“La Vie En Rose” ~ Michael Buble feat. Cecile McLorin Salvant
Michael Buble’s rendition of this Edith Piaf classic is as charming, elegant and refreshing as ever.

“De Lovely” ~ Robbie Williams
It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s de lovely! Cole Porter originally wrote this song, and Robbie Williams sang the 21st century version in De Lovely, a biopic of Mr. Porter with Kevin Kline portraying him.

Photo Credits: Lionsgate

Films to Watch at the Beginning of the Year

2019 has arrived, and January and February are the best months to start fresh with everything. Here’s a selection of movies from classics to modern hits that will give you cinematic companionship as you redecorate your room, finish up your 2019 goals or fill your new planners with exciting events and activities.

With top notch characters, unforgettable cast, and timeless plots, these films are sure to bring you excitement, positive vibes and a spirit for adventure in this brand new year full of great opportunities.

Feel free to comment with your list of films you watch at the beginning of every year.

  • Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Returns
    From classic Julie Andrews to the Emily Blunt version, it will always be a jolly holiday with Mary. Revisit the magical nanny and the Banks family on Cherry Tree Lane from P.L. Travers’s bestselling book series. Mary Poppins Returns is still playing in cinemas as of now. Can you imagine that?
  • Roman Holiday
    This Audrey Hepburn hit makes a truly delicious cinematic treat.
  • La La Land
    Here’s to the fools who dream.
  • Midnight in Paris
    It’s Paris after midnight. When the clock strikes 12, travel back in time to 1920’s Paris with Owen Wilson as Gil the writer as he befriends some of the famous literary names of the past that include Ernest Hemingway and the Fitzgeralds.
  • When Harry Met Sally
    What a fine classic! The perfect rom-com to kickstart the new year.
  • The Artist
    A whimsical, inspiring black and white film for the modern times.
  • Eat, Pray, Love
    Follow Elizabeth Gilbert’s inspiring journey of self-discovery in different parts of the world based on her bestselling novel of the same title with Julia Roberts portraying her onscreen version.
  • Aloha
    A relaxing little film starring Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone set in Hawaii.
  • Mamma Mia 1 & Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again
    Set off on a musical adventure with “dancing queen” Donna Sheridan, her daughter Sophie and Sophie’s three potential dads in the magical Greek island of Kalokairi featuring delicious ABBA hits. You’ll be screaming “Gimme Gimme Gimme” with every viewing.
  • Hugo
    Set in 1930’s Paris, this stunning, imaginative piece of cinema is a wonderfully crafted tribute to the art and magic of film-making and a constant reminder to stay optimistic about our dreams and ambitions.
  • Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 1 & 2
    No matter where Lena, Tibby, Carmen and Bridget travel, their friendship will always stay powerful thanks to a magical blue jeans that continue to be a perfect fit for them. Let’s hope Movie Number 3 will be made soon.
  • La Vie En Rose
    A wonderful biopic of French chanteuse Edith Piaf.

“Sleigh Ride” Postmodern Jukebox Style

Fresh off their Christmas special on YouTube, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox presents a brand new jazz version of “Sleigh Ride” starring Demi Remick. She’s cheery, delightful, whimsical, playful, and a superbly entertaining tap dancer. You could literally watch her for hours. Plus Scott’s piano playing is always grand.

If you’re looking for a little extra holiday cheer, this lovely video makes a joyous watch, and the song itself is worth adding to your Christmas playlist on iTunes.

Come on, it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with PMJ!

Extra Holiday Decor Ideas

Christmas is one week away, and your days must be packed with festive holiday events at restaurants, school, the office, friends’ and families’ houses, and even at your own place. Be it for a celebration or your own personal comfort, a Christmas tree at home complete with decorations can easily bring you that magical holiday vibe. Going simple or all-out is completely up to you. Finished your decorations already? That’s lovely. If you’re still in need of more holiday decors, though, here are some extra ideas you can use for an even more jolly Christmas:

Holiday Records
Got a few holiday albums in your music collection? Your favorite Christmas CDs and vinyls have festive cover arts. Why not place them on a table inside your living room or bedroom to add a bit of a musical flair to your decorations? Once your merry guests stop by for a holiday dinner, that could spark up conversations about all the great Christmas records out there. You can then play some albums on your record player as the soundtrack to your party. Have a holly jolly Christmas!

Shopping Bags and Gift Packages
Been doing lots of Christmas shopping at various Christmas shops and the malls? Your items must have been placed into holiday-themed shopping bags. With illustrations and graphics that pop, those bags look way too festive to be stashed inside your wardrobe. They would make great extra decor materials and can be hung on the wall or displayed at any corner of your home. If you have also collected gifts from family, friends and colleagues, the packages and boxes can also be stored underneath the Christmas tree to add some merriment to your home.

Christmas Cards
All the greeting cards and postcards you’ve received from friends and family members are worthy of being displayed. Adorn your living room with those wonderful cards full of warm wishes for the holiday season.

Magazine Advertisements
Ads get the glam treatment when it comes to the holidays. They look super glossy and inviting. With high quality photography and silver, green and red backgrounds, these promos can be treated as posters. Feel free to rip them out of a print magazine that you own, frame them and put them up on the wall.

Holiday Printouts
Google some Christmas photos and art, from a whimsical snowman to the North Pole. Found a number of favorites? Print them out, and get ready to plaster them along your bedroom wall to add some December magic. Turning them into a collage full of holiday pictures is also doable.

May these ideas give you something extra to be joyous about. Feel free to think up more decorating ideas. Happy holidays! 🙂

Photo Credits: @byrawpixel and @PexelsPhotos

Snowy Berry Latte at Starbucks

Snow, berry and chocolate. The blend is definitely the magic with this Starbucks beverage!

This holiday season, you’re invited to give the brand new limited edition snowy berry latte a try at every Starbucks outlet in Indonesia. Boasting a chocolatey flavor topped with whipped cream and strawberry sprinkles, it stands out from the regular Christmas drinks the store offers in its #TheBlendistheMagic series, like the mocha and chocolate caramel pralines plus returning favorite toffee nut latte.

Simply one-of-a-kind and whimsical.

Photo Credits: Starbucks Coffee Company

Cookie and Vanilla Sweaters at Stradivarius

Cookie. Vanilla. Stradivarius’s new sweater duo are two of the store’s newest, delicious Fall/Winter 2018 releases.

The chocolate Cookie and white Vanilla sweaters make a flavorful blend for your wardrobe, adding warmth to your autumn/winter collection.

Here’s the ultimate question: Cookie or vanilla? The best answer would be to own them both. Wonderful, cozy companions for your cafe trips.

CDAB5062-A1A9-4FF9-A228-2BC3A61088FE

“Don’t Know How To Love You” by Haley Reinhart is a Retro Wonderland of a Tune

Haley Reinhart is a soul goddess. In the midnight hour of a Thursday, this iconic songstress drops a brand new original tune called “Don’t Know How To Love You” that makes a fine musical food for the mind, body and soul.

From the first listen, this song gives me that cool Duffy vibe reminiscent of her songs like “Syrup and Honey”, “Warwick Avenue” and “Endlessly” from her two records Rockferry and Endlessly, but it still remains distinctive and authentically Haley. The beautiful lyrics, soulful vibe, vintage sound and Haley’s divine voice all mix together to make this a retro wonderland of a tune.

It’s Classic Haley in the making! Purchase “Don’t Know How To Love You” on iTunes and watch the music video now (brilliantly directed by Joshua Shultz with vision and art direction by Haley herself):

 

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Honey, honey, the marvelous movie musical Mamma Mia! returns for a sequel a decade after its release, and it’s a such summer delight you’ll be singing “Andante, Andante” and floating away. In Here We Go Again, we sail back to the fictional island of Kalokairi, Greece and reunite with the original cast while welcoming a number of newcomers to Hotel Bella Donna.

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is now in charge of Donna’s divine hotel, preparing for its reopening and inviting her three fathers Sam, Harry and Bill (still played by Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan SkarsgĂĄrd) and mom’s best friends Tanya and Rosie (with Christine Baranski and Julie Walters reprising their roles) to come along while her husband Sky (Dominic Cooper) is learning about hotel business away in New York. As pregnancy is upon her, she reminisces about her mother with the help of Tanya and Rosie, and the film whimsically mixes present situations with flashbacks that feature young, wild and carefree Donna (magnetically portrayed by Lily James) and her adventures that led her to her first encounters with her three beaus.

Meryl Streep is still the heart and soul of the story, and though her presence is limited in this sequel (perhaps we can all pen a letter to the writers asking why they did what they did to Donna), the plot will always revolve around Donna, and Sophie is honoring her mother by keeping the family business running.

Props to the casting team for putting together a convincing group of young actors for the flashback scenes, from Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies who look and speak exactly like Baranski and Walters, to Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner and Josh Dylan as young Sam, Harry and Bill. Lily James steals the film as young Donna. Her presence is electric, and her larger-than-life persona makes it truly an iconic role for her. The way she channels Meryl/Donna is completely natural the audiences would be impressed.

With ABBA’s music being the force behind the Mamma Mia! universe, Here We Go Again does a marvelous job delivering the Swedish pop group’s more underrated hits, from “Andante, Andante” to “Fernando” (a major highlight within the film featuring Cher as Sophie’s grandmother Ruby and Andy Garcia as her former lover Fernando) while bringing in songs previously used in the original film like “Dancing Queen”, “Thank You for the Music”, “Waterloo” (a standout scene with young Harry and Donna), “The Name of the Game”, and “I Have a Dream”.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a great sequel and a wonderful addition to the first. It’s full of joy, electric acting, ABBA-licious tunes, endearing moments and Grecian magic.

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