David Cook is a proven champion.

On his new EP, The Looking Glass, the American Idol winner offers us a window into the private world and public ambitions of someone whose greatest competitor has always been himself.

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Demi Lovato's Sexual Trauma, and the Christian Purity Movement

In a new docuseries, Demi Lovato recalls how a teenage "purity" pledge added a dimension of shame to her experience of sexual assault.

Content warning: Discussions of sexual assault, disordered eating, self harm, and addiction.

Back in 2008, a group of young Disney stars represented what was intended to be a new model of fame.

While the cliche of child stars was that they are quickly corrupted — drawn into the dark side of the entertainment industry, with exposure sex and drugs from a young age — these young singers and actors were supposed to be different.

They were going to hold onto their innocence as long as they could. They had made pledges.

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TV News

Did Ryan Seacrest Have a Stroke During the "American Idol" Finale?

What was going on with his right eye?

The Season 18 finale of American Idol aired last night and was notably chaotic.

Due to the ongoing global health crisis, a traditional live show was an impossibility. So, for the first time ever, the show was produced with the entire cast and crew joining in virtually from separate locations, and all of the performances were live streamed or recorded in the singer's respective homes. Perhaps most challenging was the fact that the show's producers had to coordinate a live announcement of the show's winner, meaning that any lag, connection problems, or other technical difficulties were likely to ruin the big reveal. "That's going to be interesting," showrunner Trish Kinane said last month according to The Washington Post, "Let's hope the Internet gods are with us."

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TV News

Sarah Palin Was on "The Masked Singer" and America Is Doomed

The former vice presidential candidate sang "Baby Got Back," because she's #relatable.

The Masked Singer is simultaneously a mysteriously popular reality show and a furry's wet dream.

The singing competition series combines the celebrity appeal of Dancing With the Stars with the good old-fashioned talent contest of American Idol or The Voice. Notable public figures sport particularly frightening head-to-toe ensembles and take turns singing songs, and the judges must guess who is in the suit. And, as is the case with any reality show, things get cringey—especially when a costumed Sarah Palin gives a rendition of Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back."

That's correct: The one-time vice presidential candidate (and Most Famous Alaskan Probably Ever) removed a monstrous bear head (as the entire crowd yelled "take it off," which isn't at all creepy) to reveal her identity before diving into the 1992 hit. She made sure to note that she tweaked the lyrics to be about men's butts instead. Because we can excuse a former governor for opposing same-sex marriage and being a life member of the NRA if they're funny and relatable, right? Right?

Before host Nick Cannon signed off, Palin assured the crowd: "This is something that our country needs right now, too." I can't say I agree, considering I'm typing this through an anxiety-ridden self-quarantine, but to each their own. Funny and relatable! We are in hell!

Watch the haunting performance below:



Casey Abrams Talks Inspiration for His New Album "Jazz"

The singer sits down with Popdust to discuss his new album, Jazz.

You may remember Casey Abrams from a string of impressive performances that landed him in sixth place on American Idol in 2011.

The 28-year-old singer and multi-instrumentalist has a unique and powerful voice. On his upcoming album, backed by a band of very talented musicians, he's loans that voice to a selection of jazz and blues standards. The aptly titled LP, Jazz, has a little something for everyone among its 12 tracks—it's the perfect soundtrack for unwinding with a glass of wine. Abrams discussed his creative process, musical influences, and vision for this album in a recent interview with Popdust.

Jazz presents a collection of re-imagined classics. Artists often speak of the writing process, but what is your process for approaching a canonized song that has a long history of being redefined? In other words, are there any insights that you might be able to provide as to what you aim for in presenting your unique version of a song —how does the band come to striking a balance between a certain faithfulness to the original song while also putting your signature spin on it?

We are each unique artists, and when unique artists get together, I feel we create a fresh and unheard of jazz experience each time. For me, jazz is the harvesting of our own unique feelings and experiences, and together we create a completely new experience of the song. In a way, we're using the paints presented in the original artwork (the song) to color it in our own communal way.

Who are some jazz/blues musicians/songwriters of today that you really admire? How about non-jazz/blues?

I love Gretchen Parlato, Taylor Eigsti, Robert Glasper and Aubrey Logan. Non Jazz, I will always love the entire spirit and fun of Tenacious D.

What do you think drew you to jazz and blues music? Do you recall any sort of clear or definitive moment of discovering it, a 'love-at-first-listen' experience?

Early on, the first time I heard "Autumn Leaves" by Cannonball Adderly and Miles Davis. A ten-minute long jazz jam that really hypnotized me with its haunting harmony, melody, and solos. Like, there was so many kinds of expressions in that one version of one song. And, so, it's the first song I'm presenting here on my new Jazz Album.

What do you hope fans get out of Jazz?

For this CD in particular, I hope they kick back and listen to this record with the one they love, or they get to meditate to it by themselves after a long day at work. We wanted to create that kind of mood. I loved the collaboration with the great musicians on the CD that make these songs a richer, kind of contemplative experience.

Pre-order the album here!

Casey Abrams Jazz Album Trailer www.youtube.com

For more from Casey Abrams, follow him on Instagram or Facebook!

TV Reviews

"The Masked Singer" Is America's Favorite Joke

With 10 million viewers tuning in, this Donnie Darko nightmare of a singing competition has claimed the ratings' top spot.

Every contestant on The Masked Singer is a cross between a Vegas showgirl and the monster under your childhood bed.

Nearly 10 million Americans tuned in for the singing competition's premiere last week. Viewers' reactions range from horrified to conversion to furry fandom, as twelve so-called "celebrity contestants" compete while costumed as: Deer, Lion, Monster, Peacock, Unicorn, Rabbit, Alien, Raven, Poodle, Bee, Hippo, and Pineapple.

Official Trailer | Season 1 | THE MASKED SINGER youtu.be

Hosted by Nick Cannon, the bizarre show is the American version of the popular South Korean competition, King of Mask Singer (on which Ryan Reynolds has appeared as a unicorn singing "Tomorrow" from Annie). The concept is both simple and over-the-top, as costumed singers introduce themselves to give hints as to their identities–and not only are they dressed as giant anthropomorphic creatures, but each costume is replete with a ridiculous voice-changing filter. After each contestant karaokes America's most overplayed songs, a panel of C-list judges evaluates their performances and takes a stab at guessing who could be under the mask. At the end, whoever displayed the least amount of talent is eliminated and forced to remove his/her disguise.

With "celebrity" judges including Robin Thicke, Nicole Scherzinger, Ken Jeong, and Jenny McCarthy, the qualifications seem lax. As the judges make increasingly outlandish guesses, from Beyoncé to Barack Obama, social media has certainly enjoyed the joke. #TheMaskedSinger remained a trending topic on Twitter during both weeks' airtimes, with posts ranging from reality TV personalities to common, decent people.

But The Masked Singer could very well become America's next favorite joke. After last week's premiere garnered over 9 million viewers only to reveal the identity of Hippo was NFL player Antonio Brown (he sang Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative"), the show's second episode still entertained over 7 million viewers. The contestant unmasked Wednesday night was Pineapple, revealed to be Tommy Chong of beloved Cheech and Chong's Adventures (he sang "I Will Survive" and it was brutal).


The Seattle Times

Ridiculous as it is, this Donnie Darko nightmare of a singing competition still held the ratings' top spot for Wednesday night among viewers from 18-49 years old. The Masked Singer airs every week at 9PM. Who do you think is Alien?


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.

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