Thursday, April 06, 2006

MBADC ScamAlert Safety Alert: Online Modeling and Talent Agency "Audition" Kidnapping Scam

Hi again Music Fans,

This is actually for the actors among you, but I have a feeling it will hit music, too. It sounds unbelievable, but I checked the facts and verified them with the reporter who did the original story that appeared on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.

If you've ever posted your headshot and resume to an online modeling and talent agency website--you know how I feel about those if you read know someone who goes to auditions, the new ScamAlert Safety Alert we posted in the April issue of is required reading. (It's in the center column, directly under "This Month on...")

Some sick, evil people are using online modeling and talent agency websites to pose as legitimate casting directors for a famous film company to lure women to "auditions." When they arrive they're kidnapped, stripped of their identification, and shipped overseas to work in the sex slave trade.

Ladies, if you go to an audition, bring a male friend. That's how 2 of the actresses in the story foiled kidnapping attempts in New York.

And, while we're at it...If you're under 18, that person must be a parent or guardian. Minors can't sign contracts, so no legitimate casting person, agent, manager, or producer will ever see a minor without the parent or legal guardian.

Be safe,
Randi Reed
Editor in Chief / Founder

Reader Feedback Reply to the American Idol and Chris Daughtry “Walk the Line” Controversy

Greetings Music Fans,

I’ve been going through’s feedback mail…

There’s been a lot of commentary during the past couple of weeks about Chris Daughtry’s forgetting to credit Live with the arrangement when he performed “Walk the Line” on
American Idol's ‘50’s night a couple of weeks ago.

Some of you have asked how that affects the performance notes we wrote in the MBADC American Idol Armchair Quarterback, praising his song selection and the arrangement.

Here’s what happened from our point of view at, and why our Armchair Quarterback notes about his performance stand as originally written:

The morning after Chris’s performance of “Walk the Line”, we were reminded that Chris Dughtry's arrangement was actually Live's arrangement. I love Live and had forgotten about their version. (Sorry guys, my bad. Apparently my brain cells' musical encylopedia wasn't working that night.)

I knew from the brewing backlash from Live fans on the Internet that
American Idol had to address it--either by media statement, on Ryan Seacrest's radio show, or on AI. I made the decision to withhold comment on until after their statement, because I felt to do otherwise would be unfairly proclaiming Chris guilty until proven innocent.

It would also be irresponsible of us, since votes are involved.

As you probably know, Ryan Seacrest and Chris corrected the omission during Chris's interview on the next American Idol performance show. After Ryan and Chris made the correction, I added an Editor's note to Chris's performance notes on our '50's Week page, as well as acknowledged it in Chris's performance notes for the next week, for those who didn't see it on the 50's Week page.

You can read the full Editor's Note
here, which should answer part of your question regarding crediting Live. It also offers our best guess at why the omission happened.

As for how this knowledge affects what we wrote about Chris’s song selection and performance…

If we pretend for a moment that Chris had remembered to credit Live with the arrangement, my feelings about the performance and song selection still stand--in this case--for two important reasons:

A. Although the arrangement was word for word, it still works as a song selection and was still the right musical choice because Chris's voice doesn't sound like the guy from Live. Even on the same notes, Chris's voice has a clarity and energy that's unique.

B. Live's version was not a widely known classic with heavy, across the board airplay, so for most people there weren't immediate musical memories attached to it. (I like the band’s work and forgot it myself!)

Had either A. or B. not been the case, and if Chris wasn't unique as an artist, it wouldn't have worked as a song selection, and I'd call it karaoke.

As I said in the Editor's Note, the best musical example I can give is the Joe Cocker version of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends." The Joe Cocker version become a much-covered cover, and pretty much every rock band who ever played a bar in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s has covered the Joe Cocker version. The best renditions were done by people whose voices sounded completely different from Joe Cocker and held the notes differently.

Conversely, although I like Taylor Hicks’ voice a lot, if Taylor tried touring with it, it would sound karaoke, because he sounds like Joe Cocker. (Although for some reason I have the uneasy feeling that when the Top 10 finalists go on tour, we’ll see Taylor singing it. Please, no.)

So, Chris’s version of “Walk the Line” on American Idol was just fine, and our performance notes still stand.

Also, I don’t believe there was any underhanded thinking on Chris’s part with regard to not crediting Live, because he’d gone out of his way to mention another artist’s arrangement in a previous week. It’s live TV, performance nights are especially tight on time, and the contestants are still learning how to express themselves on camera.

That’s why the producers, musical directors, and people who put together the clip explaining his song choice should have made sure that, as a courtesy, Live was credited with the arrangement.

Fortunately, the voting audience didn’t take it out on Chris. I’m glad, because I think he’s an amazing singer.

We now return you to current topics…Were we surprised that Mandisa went home last night? Unfortunately, no. We liked her, but if you read this week’s MBADC Al Armchair Quarterback, you know we weren’t surprised.

Rock on (That was a really cool David Essex song from the ‘70’s, by the way…),

Randi Reed
Founder / Editor in Chief

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed. All rights Reserved.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Stage Presence: American Idol Contestants, and Stage Presence Then and Now..Plus AI's Producer Disses Shakira

Good Morning, Music Fans,

I’m in the midst of writing the performance notes into column form for the MBADC American Idol Armchair Quarterback for but wanted to pop in with an observation…

At this stage of the game, the contestants should have a much better idea of cover songs that really connect with an audience.

They should also have far better stage presence than they do.

But, this is what happens when we have a generation of kids who take private voice lessons and only sing for their family, friends, and instructors...and who don't go to live concerts.

Starting at a young age (14, 15) my musical peers all learned what connects with a live audience by playing backyard parties, school events, frat parties, and jam sessions, and by getting gigs at tiny little clubs. Since they’d learned as they went along, it was rare for even local artists to not have stage presence. (Some more than others, but most of them knew how to connect.) They also built loyal fan bases.

Vocal coaching was rare then, too—Most of my musical peers never took a lesson until they blew out their voices on the first tour or got nodes on their vocal cords. (Not a great way to go.)

Conversely, now we have droves of kids who have a high level of technical ability, but have no clue what songs connect with an audience.

Seeing Katharine McPhee smile when she sings blues is the final straw. It’s the blues, Katharine. People with the blues don’t smile.

The same goes for Elliott Yamin. If it’s a sad lyric, don’t smile!

Readers, if you’re not playing live, start. Look for opportunities to do so everywhere you go…You won’t make a lot of money at it, and you’ll be doing gigs where you don’t get paid at all, but what you gain in experience and stage presence is priceless. Learn what you’re doing before you start trying to get famous.

Also, get out there and see live performances. If you're underage to get into clubs and tickets are too expensive in your area, check out DVDs of performances. Adelphia Cable's On Demand feature has a lot of free concerts in their music section, too. Watch a variety of performances, in many musical genres, to see what makes crowds react. (I don't recommend viewing clips on your computer for this purpose, BTW--You need a larger screen to really see exactly what the performers are doing to get that reaction.)

It's the musical equivalent of football and basketball players watching footage of classic games; they watch the plays closely to see what works, then they incorporate them into their own game. So go play, team!

I’m going back to my article now…Barring any server problems, it will be up on before Ryan Seacrest reads the results on the East Coast. (Update 11:45 AM: It's up!)

P.S. American Idol Producer Nigel Lythgowe (sp) just said on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show that when Shakira was on American Idol, the contestants never met her, although AI requested that she go out and talk to them. He said, quote, “she wouldn’t get off her ass” and go out to talk to them, and that she's no longer welcome to have anything to do with the show because "it's about the kids" and, he feels she used the show to promote her CD without regard to the contestants.

Live your dreams!
Randi Reed
Editor in Chief,

P.P.S. Yeah, yeah, I'm still learning how to insert links on Blogger, so bear with me...I'll have Webmaster Extraordinaire show me again and will go back in and change them. (Done!)

Edited to get rid of a typo, and to add a performance suggestion.--RR

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed. All rights reserved.