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a different side of Israel

Category: Culture (page 3 of 22)

Local Israeli music, art, theater, celebs and talent. Culture in Israel, Middle East and around the world as it relates to Israel.

The Sticker Song – Hadag Nahash

Hene Ani Ba – Hadag Nahash

This is a new section called ….. you guessed it – Israeli Music :)
Once a week we will post a music video (no promises) – we’ll start with a favorite, Hadag Nahash

Madonna’s Letter In Israel

Madonna
There is an old cliché: When the student is ready the teacher appears.

I had traveled the world many times over, performed in soccer stadiums, appeared in films, dined with state leaders, collaborated with great artists and achieved what most people would view as a high level of success but I still felt something was missing in my life.

I was pregnant with my daughter, almost 14 years ago and I had just finished the film Evita and realized I had spent my whole life worrying about myself, and that I would soon be responsible for someone else’s life.

I was raised a Catholic and my father was very religious but none of my questions ever really got answered when it came to trying to understand why people suffered in the world or what the meaning of life was all about.

And suddenly I thought, “What will I teach my child about the important things in life?”

I was practicing Yoga for years and studying Sanskrit. I had read many books by the great Yogi Masters and Indian Avatars. I studied Buddhism and the teachings of the Dali Lama. I studied Taoism and the Art of War.

I read about the Gnostics and the early Christians. I learned a lot and I was very inspired but I still could not connect the dots and find a way to take this knowledge and apply it to my daily life.

I was looking for an answer.

I went to a dinner party in L.A.

A woman sitting next to me was telling me about a class she was taking from a Rabbi.

She said it was so inspiring and that I should come along. I asked her what it was about.

She said, “Life.”

I asked her what it was called.

She said “Kabbalah.”

I told her I wasn’t Jewish and she said: “What difference does it make what it’s called and what religious upbringing you have had if you are inspired?”

She had a point.

So I went to the class and sat in the back and I listened to a man named Eitan teach the class.

I heard what he had to say and I knew at this moment my life would never be the same.

I began to go to the classes regularly and sit in the class with my notebook. No one bothered me. I took notes.

Red StringI met with Eitan privately and asked a lot of questions. The thing that was encouraged the most was to inquire further.

All the questions I had about life began to be answered and I realized I had finally found a “belief system” or philosophy that incorporated Science and Spirituality.

I was learning about Physics, Astronomy, Nature and the laws of Cause and Effect.

All the puzzle pieces started falling into place.

Life no longer seemed like a series of Random events. I started to see patterns in life. I woke up. I began to be conscious of my words and my actions and to really see the results of them.

I also began to see that being Rich and Famous wasn’t going to bring me lasting fulfillment and that it was not the end of the journey; that it was the beginning of the journey.

I have been studying with Eitan consistently since that first class and it was only a matter of time before I met Michael Berg, whose father Rav Berg comes from a long line of Kabbalists and was the teacher of Eitan.

Michael Berg is a very unique human being. He might be the smartest person I know.

At first he seemed quiet and shy, conservative and even perhaps a bit naïve. But ask him a question on any subject and you will find yourself swimming in an ocean of information.

It’s astounding what he knows and what he has accomplished at such a young age. The fact that he translated 22 volumes of the Zohar from Aramaic into Hebrew and English is remarkable.

The funny thing about Michael is that he is as comfortable and knowledgeable about discussing the teachings of the Ari as he is of discussing his favorite Seinfeld episode.

He knows more about Pop Culture and what’s going on in the world than anyone I know and yet his desire to really affect change in the world and the compassion he feels for people who are suffering is unparalleled.

When Michael gets up to tell a story in front of a room full of people there is never a dry eye in the house, including his own.

I am lucky to call him my friend.

He has a child with Down Syndrome and it is perhaps because of this that he feels the need to come to the rescue of children who are living in challenging situations or abject poverty.

We were both looking for a project to do with children and low and behold a Malawian woman appeared and told us about the plight of over 1 million children orphaned by AIDS in a small landlocked country in Africa.

Before we knew it we were visiting Malawi and that was the birth of our foundation: Raising Malawi.

Of course now that I know what I know, I realize that this did not happen by chance.

Once again the students were ready and the teacher appeared. In this case the children of Malawi are the teachers.

They have taught me so much. And they continue to teach me.

As do Michael and Eitan.

Read more about Kabbalah Bracelets

Who remembers Leonard Cohen?

Leonard CohenHis music is from the ’60’s and early ’70’s, and he definitely looks his age. But those who do remember this folk music icon of a bygone era, and have the NS 400 -600 needed to buy a ticket will be present in Ramat Gan Stadium on September 24, when Leonard Cohen saunters out on the stage and begins to sing the folk ballads that for a while made him almost as well known as another Jewish folk legend, Bob Dillon.

Cohen isn’t afraid to let the world know of his religious and cultural background, and has refused to sing at a concert for Palestinians in Ramallah for the simple reason that they had demanded he cancel his Israel gig. This fact, however, has not stopped Cohen from promising that all the proceeds from his concert will go towards Israeli and Palestinian organizations that are working towards reconciliation between the two peoples. In fact, he calls his September concert “A concert for reconciliation, tolerance and peace”.

Some of Leonard Cohen’s greatest hits, as were noted on a best selling album in 1975: Greatest Hits – The Best of Leonard Cohen, includes ones like Suzanne, Hallelujah, Bird on the Wire, and Dance Me Till the End of Love. His soulful, gravelly voice was popular with millions of fans who appreciated his lyrics and the timeless message they sent out; especially for people trying to recover from the traumas of Vietnam and the aftermath of what had been known as the “Hippie generation”.

More than twenty years after his greatest hits album, Cohen came out with another album entitled More Best, which includes some songs which were “updated” a bit to suit changing times. Some of these include ones like The Future, and Closing Time. His Greatest Hits album, has also been re-issued this year, and includes songs from both previous Best of Leonard Cohen albums.

Cohen’s first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, came out in 1967, when Americans were embroiled in the midst of the Vietnam War. But his messages of peace and love soon caught on in other countries, especially the UK, where he has performed a number of concerts over the years. His classic song, Hallelujah, was recently reintroduced in the London music charts, where it rose to the No. 1 position on the U.K. singles chart. Many people say this is his best song; but many others, including Suzanne and Bird on a Wire, are also claimed to be his best ones by his fans.

His Israel gig will come close to the time of Madonna’s scheduled September 1st concert. But obviously, those who get into Cohen’s type of music probably aren’t going to make the Madonna concert as the music of both artists just doesn’t have the same “vibes”. Nevertheless, Cohen’s performance should being back a lot of memories for a lot of us who dreamed different dreams and looked at the world in a different way than we do now.

Bravo di Opera di la Scala in the park

Summer is often a wonderful time to attend open air concerts. And such was the case Thursday evening when the world renown Italian opera theater, La Scala of Milan, put on a performance together with the Israel Opera Company in Gan Yehoshua in north Tel Aviv. The concert, in which a special open-air version of Verdi’s Requiem was performed, was given free by both the joint performers, and the Municipality of Tel Aviv, together with other sponsors, including the Israel Tourism Ministry, the Italian Embassy, and Subaru automobile importers.

operaFor those thousands of people who had the pleasure of attending this concert, including those of us who came to Tel Aviv by train to avoid all the traffic and parking problems, we weren’t disappointed, although we had to scramble to get chairs and not have to sit or lay on the grass like many aficionados did; as many of those who brought their own folding chairs with them had to leave them at the entrances to the concert site – some sort of stupid management policy, we reckoned. The sheer numbers of people who attended, many of whom even brought babies and small children along (who were as enthusiastic as their parents for the most part) would have made many think that Madona had decided to up her September concert date; which will be performed in the same location.

Things finally got underway at 9:15 pm after some introductory remarks by His Honor, Mayor Ron Huldai, who used the concert as a good platform to talk about the ongoing 100th anniversary celebrations for his city and to express his gratitude for the gracious participation of La Scala, said to be perhaps the finest opera house in the world, depending of which side of the Atlantic Ocean one lives on.

The only criticism regarding the hour and a quarter concert, was perhaps the type of opera itself that was performed, Verdi’s Requiem; which as opera aficionados know, is a very “heavy” and serious performance, with a great deal of religious connotations, especially in regards to Christianity. While not being real opera fans, but were there for the experience, we felt that there might have been some better choices for a mid-summer night’s open air performance; such as Verdi’s Il Trovatore (The Troubador) or even Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. For an audience which was at least 90% Jewish, and with many observant people in attendance, the subject matter of this performance left a bit to be desired.

Despite this minor issue, the concert was still worth attending, even though we had to leave about 10 minutes early (stepping over and around people sitting and lying on the grass) so as not to miss our train north, and thus missed the “grand finale”, fireworks and all.

If we go to Madonna’s gig, we’ll be sure to pitch up early.

A sad farewell to the King of Pop

For all the millions in the world who watched yesterday’s farewell memorial service for pop star Michael Jackson, and especially those present in the packed Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, not shedding a tear or two for this truly musical genius would have definitely been out of place. The star studded extravaganza, lasting more than two hours, continued to build up momentum each time a music artist sang one of Michael’s songs, or a memorial testimonial was given. The mood seemed to grow more poignant, even though the 20,000 people in attendance (including more than 17,500 who received tickets via the internet) were remarkably well behaved; which added significantly to the tribute being given to Jackson.

Michael Jackson MemorialFollowing an introductory eulogy by Pastor Luther Smith, a long time friend of the Jackson family, recording artist Mariah Carey sang Jackson’s “I’ll Be There”; Lionel Richie followed with “Jesus is Love”; an emotionally wrought Usher sang “Gone Too Soon”; John Mayer did an instrumental version of “Human Nature”; and Stevie Wonder sang “I never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer” as a personal tribute to a fellow “brother” and artist. “This is a moment that I wish I hadn’t lived to see” Wonder said, trying to hold back his tears. Jennifer Hudson, a former American Idol winner and one whom Jackson had personally admired, also sang one of Jackson’s former hits.

Many of the personal tributes given were as moving as the musical renditions, especially those by Brooke Shields, who had known Jackson since age 13 and said she and Jackson “formed an immediate bond as we both understood what it meant to achieve stardom at a very young age. We were considered by many as an ‘unordinary pair’, but we knew we could depend on each other”. She went on to call Michael Jackson “the sweetest and purest person I have ever known”.

But perhaps the greatest tribute, from a professional standpoint, came from Gary Gordy, whose Crown Record Company helped propel the Jackson Five singing group and Michael Jackson individually to stardom. Gordy said: “not only was Michael Jackson the undisputed King of Pop; he was much more than that – he was the greatest entertainer who ever lived!”

Of course there were other tributes, including those by basketball greats Kobi Bryant and Magic Johnson (who said he was most impressed when he shared a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken with the pop star); the Reverend Al Sharpton, and both of Martin Luther King’s children Eunice King and Martin Luther King III, who said that “you have be the best at what you are, and that’s what Michal was”.

Congressperson Sheila Jackson Lee, from the Houston Texas Congressional District, pointed out Jackson’s many good deeds, including his many charities (“he may go down in the Guinness Book of Records for the number of charities he was actively involved in”) and when he visited wounded US servicemen at Walter Reed Hospital, outside Washington D.C. “When he died on June 25th, we all stood in a moment of silence for the passing of a great American icon. Michael Jackson, I salute you!”

Other musical renditions were given in Jackson’s honor, including those by Motown great Smokey Robinson (of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles) who wrote a number of songs that Jackson later turned into hits. But perhaps the most musical surprise of the evening came from 12-year-old Shaheen Jafargholi, of Swansea Wales in the U.K, with an excellent rendition of Jackson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You.” The young singer had been picked by Jackson to appear in his “This is It” concert tour, which would have begun in London in a few days.

Jackson’s own family rounded out the celebrity and star-studded morning with his brother Jermaine Jackson singing a wonderful version of the Charley Chaplin song “Smile” which Michael made famous as young child. And Marlon Jackson, choked with emotion, said of his departed brother: “we will never understand what he had to endure. Maybe now, people will leave him alone”.

As a final musical tribute, everyone who participated came on stage for the finale musical number “We Are the World”, which Jackson made famous as a song of love and hope for all the world’s children.

What brought down the house, emotion-wise, however, came from his 11 year old daughter, Paris Katherine, who sobbed: “Ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine – and I just want to say I love him so much!”

As his bronze and gold plated coffin was wheeled out, voices from the audience cried “Michael, Michael” in one last tribute as the dead King of Pop left for his final journey to his eternal resting place. And as it was with another King, Elvis Presley, only history will conclude how great Michael Jackson really was.

The Sputnik Observatory Internet Project

Big fan of Jonathan Harris and this is his anouncement of the latest project called The Sputnik Observatory. Amazing and worth a look.

A result of a two-year collaboration with New York-based Sputnik, Inc., an organization that documents contemporary culture through intimate video interviews with hundreds of leading thinkers in the arts, sciences and technology, covering a wide range of topics.

The central premise of the Sputnik project is that everything is connected to everything else, and that topics and ideas that may seem fringe and even heretical to the mainstream world are in fact being investigated by leading thinkers working in fields as diverse as quantum physics, mathematics, neuroscience, biology, economics, architecture, digital art, video games, computer science and music. Sputnik is dedicated to bringing these crucial ideas from the fringes of thought out into the limelight, so that the world can begin to understand them.

Conducted over more than ten years and previously unavailable to the public, the interviews within the site chronicle some of the most provocative human ideas to have emerged in the last few decades. The site itself aims to highlight the interconnections between seemingly disparate thinkers and ideas, using a simple navigational system with no dead ends, where every thought leads to another thought, akin to swimming the stream of consciousness.

There are about 200 videos on the site today, and there will be thousands more added over the coming weeks, months, and years.

Check out a sample video by Jonathan about Human Feelings:



Sarkozy to Bibi – Dump Lieberman

SarkozyReverberations are still being felt in Jerusalem following French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s remark to Israeli P.M. Binyamin Netanyahu to “get rid of your foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman immediately” in order to expect to have more amicable relations with the EU, as well as with the rest of world. Sarkozy’s immediate remark, made during a meeting of the leaders at Eleysee Palace in Paris, sent shock waves in Israeli government circles, especially within Lieberman’s own party, Israel Beitanu.

Things got so bad back in Israel that Israel Beitanu vice chairman, Uzi Landau, himself known for being a bit of a right-winger, was outraged and asked how the head of state of a country supposedly friendly with Israel could make such a statement regarding a high ranking Israeli cabinet official, especially the Foreign Minister. “It’s hard to believe that the head of a friendly government could make such remarks. If I had been present I would have banged my fist on the table in protest” Landau was reported as saying.

Sarkozy suggested to the P.M. that Kadima Party leader and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni would be much better choice for the position. The French President is reported to have gone on to say that remarks made by Lieberman in private “are much different than those he makes in public”.

Jean-Marie Le PenWhether Netanyahu takes this advice (said to have been “given from a friend”) to heart will be seen in the coming days. Lieberman’s appointment to the No. 2 government position was seen as a no-choice decision in light of Lieberman’s party garnishing 15 seats in the Knesset in the recent elections. Since Israeli governments are made up by building coalitions with other political parties, Lieberman’s party became the party of choice for Bibi’s Likud party, itself known for its right-of –center views. Netanyahu had offered to form a government with Kadima (now in Opposition), but Kadima Party head Livni rejected the idea as it would have made her party still playing “second fiddle” to the likud – even though Kadima won more seats in parliament than the Likud did.

Meanwhile, Kadima’s second in command, Shaul Mofaz, has been talking about calling a special meeting within his party to circumvent Livni and agree to join Netanyahu’s government –on condition that Bibi replaces Israel Beitanu with Kadima, of course, and perhaps even appoint Mofaz to be either foreign or defense minister (resulting in having to oust Labor Party head Ehud Barak from his cabinet seat in the process, with the result of the Labor Party leaving the government as well).

Getting back to Messier Sarkozy, he even said that French ultra right wing party leader Jean-Marie Le-Pen “is much more pleasant in private than Lieberman”.

Jerusalem Gay Pride parade takes place in quieter atmosphere

This year’s Jerusalem Gay Pride parade and solidarity event appears to have taken place Thursday without the violence and counter demonstrations that have marred this now annual event. Although some 5,000 participants have been expected, the actual number may wind up to be more like 2,500; and even the police presence was much smaller than in previous years, when as many as 12,000 police were on hand.

Gay Pride Jerusalem 2009This year’s march, which culminates June Gay Pride Month in Israel, is taking place from the Liberty Bell Garden, in the heart of city, and winding up in Independence Park (near the Knesset) where an evening rally will take place. The Holy City has been the scene of some unpleasant demonstrations in past years by the city’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community, with even some participants being stabbed during the 2005 parade. Jerusalem police had placed undercover police offices to mingle with the crowd in case any problems develop, according to police spokesperson Shmuel Ben-Ruby. A small demonstration of religious objectors to the “abomination” of the event was also said to be taking place, in Shabbat Square in the Meah Shearim neighborhood (an ultra-orthodox stronghold) and at Paris Square.

Jerusalem has been on edge recently since thousands of ultra-orthodox or haredi men rioted in protest to a parking lot being opened on the Sabbath to accommodate weekend visitors to the city. Further disturbances have been expected, should the city decide to make another attempt to re-open the lot, which is located beneath the Jerusalem Municipality building and is primarily intended for use by tourists who want to visit the Old City.

Although the parade and Gay Pride rally is intended by its organizers, Open House, Jerusalem’s gay and lesbian center, various religious groups, including Christians and Muslims, have been against such events being staged in Jerusalem. And a public opinion poll, conducted with Jerusalem residents, indicates that two thirds of those polled are against such events being staged. “Let them (the Gays) do what they want in Tel Aviv – but not here” one resident said.

News From Mom

I got this email from my mom this morning:

Its a sad day today that this great entertainer has died so suddenly and so young.

MJ GoodbyeSince 3.30 our stations are reporting nothing else. America is in a state of shock. He definitely had the last say – thousands are gathering outside the hospital in Los Angeles, in New York and all around the States. Not since Diana’s death have I seen such scenes of emotion and sadness.

It’s just surreal to see the words, ” Michael Jackson has died”. Unbelievable. I felt very sorry for him during the last years. They mentioned that as soon as he died the Internet went into overload. It was actually slowing down.

Sorry guys just had to email you – I am sure you have heard. I wanted to call but it was too late.

Love,
Mom

Google Babies Made to Order

It’s weird, but it appears to exist. A television program on the Israel Channel 8 Documentary Program brought to light a “service” that appears to be getting more and more popular. Here’s how it works:

A childless couple, after exhausting all efforts to adopt a baby, decide to resort to “other means” to acquire one, including advertisements in the internet for “made to order babies”. If the woman seeking a child cannot provide a healthy ovum, a connection is made with a woman willing to donate one of her ovum (for a small fee of course), and sperm used to fertilize the offspring comes either from the husband of the childless couple or from a male donor. Naturally, the personal health and hereditary histories of all donors are thoroughly investigated, to ensure the birth of a healthy infant. The ovum (which has been deep frozen) is then taken by the couple to India, where both sperm (either from the husband or a donor) and ovum are then planted in a surrogate mother’s womb, where it will grow until the Indian woman gives birth.

All expenses of the process are paid by the couple “ordering” the child (which might also a same sex couple, by the way) including the care and medical expenses for the surrogate mother, including a fee for her services. The total bill for such an “order” can run over $50,000, including plane fares, hotels and other expenses of the “purchaser”.

The process is not cheap by any means, but it appears to more and more people are using this method to acquire a baby. The legal aspects of the process are still a bit hazy, however, but government authorities in India appear to be giving a blind eye to the “service’ which appears to be getting larger in a country where a fee of $ 5,000 will go a long way for an Indian family that usually subsists on less than $1,000 a year (not everyone in the Sub Continent works for a high tech or financial services company). And since the Indian woman is only the “incubator” for the child, she doesn’t have a claim on it since the ovum involved did not come from her.

Surrogate mothers are not a new phenomenon and for years now women have offered to be one, usually for a substantial fee. The only catch is that sometimes she decides she wants to keep the baby herself, resulting in a bit of legal problem. But in the case of the Indian carrying mothers, this problem appears to have been solved. It all shows that the process of having a baby is often taken for granted by those able to have them; especially when all the factors are involved in ordering a “Google baby”.

Palestinians and Israelis to create music together in Tel Aviv

THIS was just sent to me and I haven’t heard anything about it yet. Sounds like a good cause:

On June 18th 2009 a group of fifteen young Israelis and Palestinians will come together in Tel Aviv to show that music can overcome conflict by creating a unique track and video.

The project is a collaboration between peace organisation Windows for Peace and pioneering London-based music college Point Blank. Robert Cowan, founder of Point Blank, is a frequent visitor to the Middle East; four years ago he formulated an idea for using the Point Blank training system to engage young people from Israel and Palestine and bring them together through music and film-making. He says: “It’s been a long and bumpy road but finally the dream is about to happen.”

The group will record an original track and make an accompanying music video to explore issues relevant to their lives and experiences. They will learn new skills, enabling them to apply their talent and imagination to bring about peaceful change through the power of music.

More than just working together on a creative project, the group will be living, eating and sharing every moment of their lives for a two-week period. The resulting music video will be disseminated via TV and web to reach a worldwide public, showing young people in the region that communication with the ‘enemy’ is not only possible, but desirable and fruitful.

Music Production tutor Mohammed Nazam, born in Pakistan, and the founder of London-based multi-faith band Berakah, says:

“It’s important that during challenging times like these the people and organisations who are working for peace step up a gear and show the world that there are ways of increasing understanding and crossing religious, national and cultural divides. The work that Windows for Peace are doing with Israelis and Palestinians is incredibly important and I am touched and honoured to have been asked by Rob and Point Blank to be involved in this initiative; I absolutely believe that no matter what, hatred and war are truly not viable options.”

Rob is thrilled to see his vision finally come to life: “It’s taken a long time to get to this point, but I am very excited that this summer young Israelis and Palestinians will be working together on this creative project. I can’t wait to see the results!”

At a time when it is more important than ever for both sides in the Middle East conflict to understand each other, it is the hope of Point Blank and Windows that this project will sow the seeds of reconciliation.

Happy & Hot Gay Pride in Tel Aviv

Even the cops were in a good mood today. It was humid and hot but that didn’t slow down anyone. If you are in Tel Aviv around this time next year, it’s certainly worth the experience. Bring suntan lotion :)

Greenback bashed again as exchange slips below NIS 4

Shrinking Dollar
The U.S. Dollar, also known recently as “Obama Bucks” slipped below the NS 4 benchmark rate Friday for the first time in five months. The greenback’s international weakness, aggravated by the ongoing world recession and the immanent possible bankruptcy of giant U.S. automaker General Motors has resulted in the US currency falling against other major currencies, especially the Euro and Japanese Yen. The Shekel has continued to strengthen following the announcement by Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer that the BoI will discontinue purchasing dollars as it has recently to help maintain it’s exchange rate and assist Israeli exports with a lower Shekel rate.

Fischer had tried to prop up the sagging greenback due to fears that Israeli exports would suffer, especially those destined for American markets. Another reason for the BoI purchasing dollars was due to an already large foreign currency reserve by the bank in that currency which would mean a loss of profits if the currency went down to the rate it was at it’s low point of NS 3.30 about a year ago. All this news is a bit discouraging for many people who are receiving pensions and other incomes in US dollars and have to exchange them for Shekels. Apartment sales to Americans also suffer when the dollar rate falls as prices for properties in Israel become more expensive.

For people who remember the early to mid 1980’s, when inflation in Israel reached nearly 400% and the former “old Shekel” was depreciating daily against the dollar and other currencies, this business seems almost comical – unless one is living on dollar based investments and pensions that is. A Citibank economist was recently quoted a saying “we think the Israeli central bank could soon find itself in a position where it is neither necessary nor desirable to continue it’s policy of purchasing foreign exchange (dollars) at the rate of $100 million a day”. That’s obviously what has happened in that the BoI is simply flooded with dollars.

In the long run, however, it’s obvious that the economy of Israel is tied considerably to what is happening in America; and too strong a Shekel rate is counter productive

for Israel’s exporters, especially in the current recessionary economy.

Chris Allen upsets Adam Lambert in Idol finale

Kris Allen in American Idol 8
Everybody thought San Diego pop singer Adam Lambert was a shoe-in last week when the American Idol song contest whittled down to only him and a boyish guy from a little town in central Arkansas. In fact, international music mogul and critic, Simon Cowell was so confident that “his” contestant would win that he literally told everyone before a world-wide audience that Adam Lambert would be the next American Idol.

That just didn’t happen, however, and when the final votes came in, that cute, “boy next door” image, Kris Allen was chosen before hundreds of Kodak Theater screaming admirers – including members of his own family. Kris won on his brilliant final song, “No Boundaries” which may have partially tipped to voting scales in his favor, even though all the judges, especially Simon, thought that Adam’s rendition of

“A Change is Gonna Come” was better than the original by Sam Cook He also was brilliant with the old Cat Stevens classic “Mad World”.
But try as he might, he just didn’t get enough votes of the 100 million cast to win. Perhaps, due to Allen’s improvement over the past few weeks, plus his clean-cut, boyish personality (compared to Lampert’s smoother, more professional appearance) was enough to excite the millions of young girls between ages 12 and 16 who swooned when he came on the stage. His brief homecoming to Conway a couple of weeks before gave an indication that this 23 year old had the American Heartland in his pocket. But perhaps his versatility (he is also an excellent guitarist and concert pianist) also put something in his favor.

The evening was also full of guest stars, both musicians, and otherwise, which included British rock icon Rod Stewart, pop group Black Eyed Peas, and actor and comedian Steve Martin, who played the banjo.

At the end, Allen was so overwhelmed that show host Bryan Seacrest had to help support the new idol star, who sang again his winning song “No boundaries”.
The show isn’t over by far for second place finisher, Adam Lampert, however, as often people who don’t win first place wind up getting better recording and performing contracts. Examples of this are Jennifer Hudson and Carrie Underwood.

And let’s also not forget the coming summer Idol tour of the top ten, including Allen and Lampert as well as third place finisher Danny Goky.

Cowell went out of his way to tell both contestants that “your both winners, the future is yours!” Does that mean his record company is already preparing contracts?

What will happen when Israel’s Idol version, Kochav Nolad comes on in a few weeks will be anybody’s guess. But we’re sure that wanna-be contenders have been watching the American version to get some pointers.

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