American Idol Power Rankings: Week 4

Thursday, 31 March 2011, 17:59 | Category : Other
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With the stakes higher than they have been all season, the contestants on the show continue to step up their game.  This is making it tougher and tougher to rank them.  Also, my wife raised an interesting question: are the rankings based solely on the current week’s performances, or are they based on everyone’s work up to this point?  Well, in my first post I stated that I would “rank each contestant on overall performance (singing, stage presence, and musical talent), song selection, and likability,”  and I want to try and stick to that.

However, while the rankings are meant to be based off a single performance, to some degree I’ve been drawing from past weeks to influence me.  If the Power Rankings were the order I like the contestants, then they would only change very slightly from week to week.  But, the contestants do move up or down in the rankings based on their position from the previous week.  For example, Jacob was second last week, but had a horrible performance (for me, not the judges) last night.  James had one of my other least favorite performances of the week, but because he was lower than Jacob last week and both performances were about the same for me.  Therefore, Jacob got the nod over James.  Also, it’s typically easier to drop than it is to rise.

Another thing is, one’s likability (a factor in determining the rankings) unavoidably comes from every experience you’ve had with that individual.  I can’t separate previous impressions from a contestant from my overall opinion of them unless they do something to completely override them.

The point of the Power Rankings is not to say the bottom person in is necessarily the contestant that should be voted off.  Does one dismal week for one of the consistently top performers mean he/she should go home?  I say no.  Votes should be cast based on the performers’ complete body of work.  Anyone can have a bad week, but if someone is consistently near the bottom, then they are less deserving to stay on.  And I will speak my mind.

1. Haley Reinhart: I’ve never understood this song, but she knocked it out of the park.  If this doesn’t keep her out of the bottom 3, then I don’t know what will.

2. Casey Abrams*: Way to bounce back.  I liked seeing a softer side of Casey.  It just goes to show how diverse he is, but he always has his Casey-ness.

3. Lauren Alaina: Just as I started thinking she may not be quite ready for this competition after all, she pulled this performance out.

4. Thia Megia: I disagree with the judges; I thought she sounded so good.  I don’t see how she doesn’t make it to the Top 5 at least.

5. Pia Toscano: The girl can obviously sing, but to do a ballad the week after the judges called her out for doing it and two people are getting sent home, she needed something big to knock our socks off.  This was a good performance, but not what she needed.

6. Scotty McCreery: Who knew Elton John had a country song?  He looked more comfortable with the guitar.  This week he stepped it up, but he’s going to have to continue finding ways to keep it fresh.

7.Stefano Langone*: He did a nice job with it, and you could tell he doesn’t want to get sent home.  In a week when the others are making songs their own, his felt a little karaoke.

8. Paul McDonald: This is the first performance of his I just didn’t absolutely love.  Some of it was classic Paul, but others were a little boring.

9. Naima Adedapo*: She’s confident, you’ve got to give her that.  I actually kinda liked it.  She wasn’t as pitchy as she has been, but I still don’t think she’s on the same level as everyone else.

10. Jacob Lusk: I didn’t really care for the performance.  The last note is keeping him from the bottom spot.  This doesn’t mean he deserves to go home.

11. James Durbin: When I heard the song he chose I thought it seemed like the right song for him, but this was not his best performance.  It just felt noisy.

Even though they are both improving, I think Naima and Stefano are the two who should be voted off tonight.  I guess we’ll see.

The Great Northwest

Wednesday, 30 March 2011, 5:00 | Category : NBA
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I recently finished a trip that took me through the Denver airport, San Francisco, Portland, and Salt Lake City.  Naturally, each city is fixed in my mind with its respective sports teams.  And I like all four of these teams.  As I thought more about it, I realized that three of these four are in the Northwest Division.  Out of all the divisions in the NBA the Northwest has got to be my favorite.  Let’s take a look at what’s to like about these teams in order of my preference.

Utah Jazz: Even with their current struggles, the Jazz are tied with the Pistons as my favorite team.  I hate to see Sloan

Utah Jazz, Al Jefferson, LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trailblazers

This division is deep with big men.

and D-Will both leave like this, but I’m excited about a chance for the team to rebuild and move forward.  I’ve always liked Devin Harris.  He can take it to the cup at will but is only averaging 5.2 assists per game with Utah.  That’s wouldn’t cut it in a Sloan system, but is that even what they’ll be playing moving forward?  Also, they need to figure out what to do with the logjam at the PF position.  Hopefully they’ll start fixing their woes with two lottery picks.

Portland Trailblazers: Before I had ever even been to the state of Portland, this team won me over.  (I now have family there and visit regularly.)  They have a great core of guys which has only gotten even better and more likeable over the years (i.e. Miller, Matthews, Batum, Wallace).  It sickens me that they can’t stay healthy.  As beat up as they are, the Blazers can still finish fifth in the West.  Aldridge has just been ridiculous.  Imagine what could’ve been with a healthy Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, and the rest of the injured team.

OKC Thunder: I’m not the first to fall in love with the team Presti has built through the draft and trades.  This is a young team with a crazy amount of talent and maybe even more chemistry.  They grind it out on both sides of the court.  The addition of Perkins seems to elevate them to a legit contender.  Too bad they have a WNBA-quality nickname.

Serge Ibaka, Nene, OKC Thunder, Denver Nuggets, Jeff Green

Oops, how did Jeff Green make it in this picture?

Denver Nuggets: I used to despise the Thuggets, but the arrival of former Pistons Billups and Afflalo got me to unwillingly root for them.  Even though Chauncey is gone now, so is Melo.  How can you not love Denver’s storyline of trading the big-headed superstar for a bunch of role players and actually playing better while said superstar struggles on big stage.  On top of that you have Coach Karl overcoming cancer for the second time (fourth if you count Allen “The Canswer” Iverson).

Minnesota Timberwolves: Gotta love Kevin Love.  I’m more intrigued by this team than anything else.  They have some odd pieces, and I’m not sure what direction they’re moving in or if they even know, for that matter.  With Rubio rumors picking up again this team could get even more…interesting?

Tell me, what division is as likeable as a whole as the Northwest?

Final Four?

Monday, 28 March 2011, 16:59 | Category : Basketball, College
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Final Four 2011 Houston

If I told you I had predicted the Final Four, you would call me a liar, and rightfully so, because nobody did. UConn (a three seed is the highest to make it to the Final Four) didn’t take too much imagination to foresee. They played some of the best basketball seen all season in their conference tournament. Kentucky’s appearance surprises more people, but four seeds have made it this far before (heck, Butler last year was a five seed). That side of the Final Four are a surprise, but not special.

The other half are the real surprise, and also the most exciting part of this tournament. Too bad it can’t be Butler and VCU in the championship game, because they both a have a chip on their shoulder that could take them all the way.

Butler Bulldogs, 2010 Mens College Basketball Championsip, Duke, shot at buzzer, Gordon HaywardButler played a less than spectacular season, after going to the championship last year.  Due to America’s passion for the underdog, most people regretted the final score from last year’s final game. This year, despite being an eight seed, Butler has pushed on. Too bad Gordon Hayward wont get to see postseason play this year with the Jazz, but who knows, Butler might get the chance they missed out on last year.

Every commentator made it clear that VCU did not deserve to enter the tournament. I think that was the fuel to VCU’s fire. Not only have they won every game so far, only one victory was by less than double digits. Even if they lose this weekend, VCU has made one thing clear- they deserve to be here.

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