Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Jewish Star: The Fourth Judge's Impressions - Part 2

We clearly have many more contestants this year and this has impacted the show a lot. The biggest challenge now is not only sing a song well but to find a way to stand out from the others. This requires a good voice, obviously, but it's as important to choose the right song. And even when you choose the right song you should make it special and different. In light of this contestants like Baruch Naftel, Elie Norovitz and even Gershon Shapiro did a pretty good job but this year I don't think it will be enough - there's too many people. And it's all about standing out. Avrami Cohen is a great example of a smart audition. I'm happy we are going this way as this will make the competition more.. err.. competitive.

But the best so far is Mendel the Shoichet - I can't forget that one. Here are the latest:

Avrami Cohen - Very original audition, with a jazzed up version of YG's Beshoo. He is Kol Zimra-ish and I think will go through. *

Benny Gammerman - Another innovative audition that stood up from the rest. Like Mendy Sheichet, Benny is back and stronger and both seem ahead of Gershon from last year's contestants. The song is pretty much from the Israeli JM camp and it's fresh and groovy, not to mention the interesting lyrics. I think eventually JM will have more and more of these kind of lyrics (Shuli Rand is one of the pioneers) and I hope this audition gets the green light.*

Elie Norovitz - I think it wasn't a good song choice for him - the first part was way too low and it eclipsed the rest of the tune, which did have good moments and good notes.

Motti Hershkovitz - good voice, this audition was quite good. I like him but, again, I don't know if he managed to stand out enough. Reminds me of Yeedle a bit.

Daniel Joshua Gerlich - this guy will polarize opinions around him. This kind of auditions will raise eyebrows for virtually all US listeners but will surely have a following in Israel. The dragged singing is perhaps a little exaggerated but overall this song has character. Does he look a bit crazy? Yes. But the crazy singers can be the best. Think Lipa, Adi Ran - the crazier the less they care about the standards and the more original they are. I don't think he will pass because he doesn't fits in the Avraham Fried/Gerstner music world but I'm very happy to see him compete.

Tzvi Russel - it's a good example of the danger of being too much into your own song. Took a big risk by singing his own song and considering that this song is bad, he had no chance from the very start.

Ilan Eckhart - sings a beautiful song from Six13, a band I follow closely. Good voice, lots of potential, but is this the kind of guy Fried/Gerstner will appreciate and pass? Don't think so.

Edan Hanouka - slightly better than Flusberg. Couldn't watch till the end.

Motty Reizes - what caught my attention was the composition. The song is far from perfect but it has some interesting shticks and I think Motty has potential to be a composer.

Mordechai Levovitz - seems to be a pro singer - can these compete?

Marcos Askenazi - he is on ajewishstar's channel on youtube but is not on the site. Is he in or not? Confusing. One of the better auditions - great interpretation, vocals and musicality. If he is competing, I would place him as a favorite. *

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Jewish Star: The Fourth Judge's Impressions

Last year I was afraid none of the judges would dare to give honest opinions - bad or good - about the contestants so I wrote a long post with blunt assessments of each and every A Jewish Star contestant. I turned out to be wrong as Avraham Fried took the post of the Simon in the show and was even more confrontational then me - kudos to him and I hope he keeps the same mindset this year. Anyways, in case you liked what I had to say lasy year, here are my comments about this year's contestants. I marked my favorites with a *.

Just a note - I just bought Binyamin Moshe's song in a Jewish Star's site and it simply rocks - the song, the vocals, the choir and the arrangement. Just for that A Jewish Star was a success, as it really produced a great star.

Another note - I will not comment on the Jr contestants. I'm against the Jr competition because it can expose the kids to embarrassing situations that will be forever public on the web. Adults are free to do whatever they want, and if some decide to make a fool of themselves online, hey, that's their life. But kids? This is a result of the Children Boys Choir craze that is so poignant in Jewish Music, unfortunately.

Ratzon Gholian - he does reach very high but I always say: it's not about reaching high, it's about how you reach the notes. And his high notes are too thin, shaky and strident. Shwekeyism, and that's a very annoying ism.

David Ackney - I love this video. The Simple setting allows David's tune and voice to stand from the crowd. The interplay of "Na" is smart (although already explored by Yossi Green in his composition to Kol Achai) and it fits well in this Breslov atmosphere - it was just missing the Na Na Nachman! *

Natie Grossnass - the Brits are so verbose! What I like about this one is that this is exactly what an audition should be - just sing a little of what you like and let the judges decide if you are good. This year pretty much everyone decided to follow the steps of last year's winner and come up with an original song in the audition. They should do like Natie, who did it simple but perhaps just enough to go through. Go cousin! *

Baruch Naftel - Nice "open door" into idea, and professional recording. He was on tune throughout the song, and clearly had a good time making this video. Also some funny moments thanks to the scarf throw and the "dorm mess" snap at 4:40. He needs voice coaching - his singing is still too raw but I do see potential in him, with the condition that he stops trying to copy Shwekey's shticks!

Aron Holder - right from the start you hear that he has a very distinctive low voice. I think a voice like his will do good to the finals. *

Yaakov Flusberg - DOA

Hillel Kapnik - he recorded this video in the same place as Boruch Naftel, which leads me to speculate that he was the guy in shorts in Naftel's vid, but going to the point - great composition! It has great potential for harmonies and with a professional producer this song could actually fly. His voice didn't stand out much but he didn't compromise the song and came out good. Weird wink at the end ... whatever. *

Menachem Weinstein - Menachemyahu? Matisyahu is clearly his inspiration and rap is his genre - nothing wrong with that. I like the song a lot, and he really did well with nice vocals, harmonies and arrangement. He will go through, although I'm curious to see if A. Fried will nod to a rapper in this show!

Mendel Markel - back from season1, Mendel gives another shot for his Jewish Star bid. Hands down, the best audition this year; both the vocals and tune were exceptional. And to achieve that with a simple setting - couch, guitar and no auto-tune - wow! *

Yehuda Tenenbaum - No singing technique, weird diction and very many off tune moments. Will not pass.

Ezra Lejbik - very over-the-top, kvetchy and terribly off tempo. I do like his voice, but he needs a lot of framing.

Shmuel Plotke - I liked the originality of the video - it was a cool setting. That's what's good about it.

Zalman Levy - this was interesting. I see a good potential in him, specially as a lyricist. Good English lyrics are a rarity in JM and from the start he is better than most lyricist out there. The question is if this will be enough to captivate the judges.

Aron Behamou - ok the video wasn't mixed properly but I like the song - it's different, original and complex. His vocals are a bit sloppy but I think it's part of the charm of this song. I really wish he will pass. But it will be a long flight to the show! * (the dark horse)

David Hershkovitz - clearly very into the song, but still an amateur. Maybe next year he will be more ripe.

Shmuel Morgenstern - related to Shalom Morgenstern? Wow, it has been years since I heard from him - I was actually one of the few who bought this under-the-radar Yossi Green CD. It would interesting to have a Chassidich guy in the show but I don't think he stood out.

Gershon Shapiro - this video was very well done, specially the video mixing. Gershon put a lot of effort in this video, however I still don't see his vocals standing out. But the song was original, the video was top-quality, so he might very well go ahead this time.

Abraham Cooper - very heimish atmosphere with the fireplace and banjo, but the composition is below par... sorry.

Nachas Baldinger - he seems to be a pro singer, so I don't know how this falls with A Jewish Star's rules. But his vocals are good and even if he doesn't go through this is smart advertisement. Is that Newmark in the keyboard?

Dan Dabbah - the video was so bad that it almost neutralizes what's good about him. Good voice but no stage presence; I don't think that is the profile for a show like this but, hey, his vocals are good.

Shimon Atlas - Great Avrumie Flam song and good vocals. But it's weird to submit a wedding video.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Jewish Star Season 2 is here!

Stay tuned for my post on the best and worst auditions next week. This will be a very cool season, that much I can say!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Miller and Lemmer

Really solid harmony by Miller! I think he was flat in 2:24 but besides that, it's a really great duet:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Shimon Craimer's Nashir Beyachad Review

Nashir Beyachad was on my buying list for quite some time, and with no further due, here’s the review.

I was among those (few?) who bought Shimon first album, and although I didn’t review it, it was a great one. Yossi Green managed to bring the best from Shimon and the album was commercial, even if it wasn’t a blockbuster. Now, Shimon comes solo, doing music in his own way.

The album tittle is very weak, since it’s the same as Yossi Rose’s.

Sameach is a conventional song with great energy, so it’s was the best choice for the first song. The arrangement is great, specially the bridge in 1:42 - soft, subtle, perfect. The 3 minutes mark is golden for a fast song like this and Shimon is at his best, with great improvisation skills and vocals. *****

Nashir Beyachad has very weak lyrics - “can’t describe the devastation” is not good, however, the chorus is cute and catchy, saving this song from havoc. The arrangement is again very good, and after 4:23 the song does get momentum, but the weak lyrics are a heavy liability. ***

Jewish Gospel music - that is the definition of Open Up. A genre very rarely explored in JM, Gospel music is kind of a taboo in JM but by using Rabbi Chait’s Pitchu Li as the structure this song doesn’t sounds all that out of place. Choir arrangements and lyrics were very well done, nearly perfect, and I appreciate the risk taking. *****

The automatic initial reaction to Mi Von Siach is “Another one?”, the same reaction I had with Gertner’s (childhood friend of Craimer) Mi Von Siach. Like Gertner’s, the tune is beautiful but the lyrics... I can’t hear Mi Vons anymore. **

Kel is probably my favorite song, as it showcases Shimon’s energy and vocals. He knows how to keep the song interesting with great interpretation and shticks. The song is rather simple, but Shimon brings it to a very high level and I think no one else would do it as well. It’s a song only he can sing. *****

Brogez is the most innovative slow song in this album and possibly in the past year. We got used to hear Yossi Green-styled slow songs in each and every album, and Berogez is a rare example of how it’s possible to explore different styles in a JM slow song without losing the Jewish taste. It’s a very demanding song vocally, and Shimon does a superb job. The choir is flawless, the kind of choir I wish we would hear more often -subtle but powerful. *****

Shalom is another innovative song - it’s pure fun. Shimon has great voice control and knows how to sing it softly when he has to and when to hit hard, like in 2:23. Kel, Berogez and Shalom are a great sequence of songs, and in my opinion, it’s where Shimon’s real vibe is. *****

Ani Maamim shares the same problem of Mi Von Siach - beaten down lyrics. Again the song is actually beautiful but without the lyrics you cannot go very far today - this will not be a blockbuster and will be easily forgotten. **

Tzur has a different problem with the lyrics - I don’t see any connection between the lyrics and the tune. That’s a big negative, and altough the arrangement is excellent, I’m afraid this song is the album filler.

Achat Shaalti, and here I am again complaining about the lyrics. Mi Von Siach, Ani Maamim and Achat Shaalti - a disastrous combination of lyrics, and a big let down for me.

Vaani is interesting because of how the lyrics fit in the song, rather in a strange but successful way. And 3:45 is not too long, so kudos to the arranger. ****

The child soloist in Hamalach is the best child solo I’ve heard in a long time - not screechy (yes, it’s possible), perfect technique and good song choice. This is the optimal way to use a child in JM and I hope other singers finally come to their senses after hearing this. And I have to mention the choir - fabulous. This is a really solid last song, and although the lyrics are not exactly original, the child soloist makes this song fly.

Already in his first album Shimon showed great vocals and technique, so I’m not surprised to hear it again here in this album. The Kel Hahodaos/Brogez/Shalom showcase what’s best in this album, while the Mi Von Siach/Ani Maamin and Achat show an unfortunate constant problem - the lyrics. Aside from that, this album has fabulous production value and a touch of freshness to it. I do fear it’s not a commercial album, that is, it’s not what people want to hear these days. But strictly in terms of music, this album is something Shimon should be proud of.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Avraham Fried, Yishai Lapidot and Amiran

Now I got a video of that Brazil wedding, and you can see how cool A. Fried, Amiran and Lapidot sound together. Power play! And a great remix of Ohad's Veerastich.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Matisyahu + Children's Choir


It's quite amazing what Matisyahu is doing, and whether you agree with his mainstream approach or not, he is a real talent and is bringing a very meaningful message to the world. Great video and a prime example of how children's choir can be harmonious, pleasant and interesting. Jewish Music has a lot of catching up to do in this issue, but "one day", our choirs will be like that too.

Just in time for the World Cup..



Avraham "Avremel" Fried and Amiran Dvir show their true colors in a wedding last week.
Go Brazil!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Shloimie Gertner's Say Asay

I got a hold of Shlomie Gertner's new album and I think it deserves a review. True, my blog was omitted from the list of Jewish Music blogs featured in the album's jacket and I didn't get a courtesy copy from the distributor, so be prepared for some fiery negative remarks throughout this review. Now seriously:

Say Asay is the album's main song and it has a creative shtick from Yossi Green, yet, the song is plain. It doesn't builds up, and the English lyrics are very weak, even for JM standards. Kudos for the risk-taking but this bet didn't pay off. ***

Hashomain is a big song and it brings Shloimie to the next level, forcing him to improvise and use his voice smartly - something we didn't see in his first album. This is one of Waldner's best compositions and in my opinion, the album's real deal. *****

Ashrei is an average fast song with a cool arrangement. ***

Nishmas is an "outlier", not a regular slow song like we are used to hear in JM. Shlomo Simcha once showed me a database of Yossi Green's songs, categorized by style, and many of them had a special term to describe them - something like "Yitzur" or "Yetzira", I can't remember exactly, but it means "novelty". Nishmas fits in this description and it's a strange song. Honestly, it doesn't makes sense to me musically but... it's different, and that's a compliment. ***

Besimcha uses a lot of repetition and it's probably a song YG composed having Lipa in mind - Gertner couldn't make this one work. The third part of this song - the niggun - is not bad and along with the Shloimie's middle-western improvisation in 3:26 saves this song from being a total flop. **

Shabbos Hayom, by the great Boruch Levine, is a really good song. The lyrics are original, the tune is catchy yet different than what we hear in JM, and Gertner was the perfect guy to sing this song - superb vocals. In the second part there's a great harmony (using the fourth notes) that wasn't explored by the vocal arranger and that's my only let down here. *****

Finally, a very good fast song - Boruch She'amar. This is Gertner's kind of tune - simple, catchy and modern, as seen in his first album. Gertner's improvisations and vocal arrangements were excellent and this song should have been featured earlier in this album.
Re'eh is a typical Pinky Weber song but it isn't his best. Too predictable and surely not the album's best slow song. ***

Ein Kelokeinu is another solid fast song, with a great arrangement and like Boruch Sheamar, this is Gertner's kind of song. Simple, fresh and different, this song is "vanguard" and it's just a pleasure to listen. I see that Waldner's fast songs are ahead of Yossi Green's in this album, surprisingly. This is the way JM is going recently (think Benny Friedman) and I'm happy to see Gertner doing a song like this.

Yossi Gurvitz, a family relative of mine, was the man behind Gertner's best songs in his first album and this song does resemble Rachel and Shma Beni a little - Gurvitz likes to use a lot of repetition in his slow songs and Min Hameitzar is composed with this same concept, and it's quite good, something different. ****

Mesameach is interesting, another solid composition of Waldner. This is the future of JM and even though this might not be a crowd-pleaser this song is very well done and groovy. ****
Mi Von Siach - the most beaten down lyrics of JM. Yes, the song is beautiful but there's gotta be a limit of how many Mi Von Siach YG can compose. Or not? ****

Dedi comes to my mind when I hear Happy Birthday, a very creative song - credits to Yossi Green. This is the 13th song and yet very solid - unusual. ****

Yevarechecha - closes this album in the right note. Complex and interesting. ****

What I like about this album is the risk-taking, something I mentioned in Benny Friedman's album. Okay, the bets will not always work but this album had many clear successful songs that are hard to find elsewhere in JM. Until this week, all I heard about this album was that it wasn't as good as the first. A big mistake - it's actually better. Everyone asked to Shlomie to take more risks after his first album and here he is, making big bets and really going for originality. The only thing I missed was a more contemporary choir and vocal arrangements, and a guy like Mike Boxer would add a lot to the songs. But all in all, it's a really great accomplishment and credit should be given not only to Shloimie but to all the production team, who managed to produce a great, groovy album.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Jewish Star - Final Review

COLlive's A Jewish Star concert took place a few days ago and the three finalists had a chance to sing one more time to the public. The concert was clearly small, and Benny Friedman had the tough job of carrying the flame over this not-so-enthusiastic crowd. But he is a cool and confident guy and he managed just fine, even with the language issue.

By the way, one thing stood out very clearly - all three contestants were "aliens", or if you prefer, non Americans. COLlive could've pushed for a local finalist but everyone sticked with what really matters - the performance and Ohayon, Sadon and Moshe were clearly ahead of the rest. That's great.

Let's get to the facts. The first was Ohayon and he did a fine job singing Ale Katan, but fell short in making a statement and didn't manage to make this song special. Interestingly, Mendy Peilin raised fears that Ohayon's Boi Kallah didn't give us a feel of how well he would do outside of the recording room. And he was spot on - Ohayon is a great vocalist, has a very smooth falsetto but is one of those singers who do well in records but less well in live concerts. That's not a critique; I still think he would do great in a debut album but the contest's format put him against the wall. And the judges were too complascent, and I was expecting a slight critique from A. Fried but it seems like he played the nice guy this time... where is Jewish Music's Simon?!

Next came Sadon and you all know I'm not a huge fan of him. But his high note in Ani Maamim awarded him a spot in the top-3 and the question was if he could take more risks in the concert. He took a classic - Machnisei - but he did take risks and did his best to make this song exciting, with great success. Special mention to the falsetto in the end of the song, it was really outstanding and a great shtick. Somehow, Sadon managed to put up a better performance than Sadon - unexpected.

Last came Binyamim Moshe and when the guy comes with his guitar on his back facing down you know he means business. Mendy Peilin thought it was an Uzi! Moshe quickly took over the stage and was really comfortable with the spotlight on him. And he was lucky to be the last, this caused his performance to have an even bigger impact. Moshe has what the other two lack: he is authentic. And that's a quality we rarely see in JM, where originality isn't the rule of the land. Moshe sang his own song, played the guitar along and did a fantastic stage work. I don't see a singer like him coming from the US these days, unfortunatedly. Binyamin Moshe is a product of Israeli JM, which is often more authentic and groovy than American JM. My only complaint is that his guitar was perhaps too loud, I think the sound system guy should've muted it just a bit.

COLlive's A Jewish Star has been a truly vanguard project and one of the most exciting things in JM in the past years. This will be huge next year and I can't wait for it!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Boys Choir: The Last Stand

In my Awards picks, I didn't choose any boys choirs. I noted that "my ears retired from listening to this kind of things long ago", and I wanted to write a little more on that.

Boys Choir have become one of JM's main niches, thanks to London Boys Choir and Tzil Vezemer's incredible breakthrough many decades ago. More specifically, Yigal Kalek managed to create a new craze around boys choir, creating a new niche of Jewish Music and that gave new life to the industry at the time - it was new, different and cute.

Miami Boys Choir stormed in and infused even more energy, with a new wave of high-profile concerts and CD's. MBC traveled around the world and provided us many timeless hits like Meheiro and Beseiata Dishmaya.

With time, the buzz around MBC started to fade away, specially in the last decade, and although they are still around, MBC became outdated. That's when the new Boys Choirs started mushrooming everywhere, hoping to bring new life to this niche. I guess people figured that with a more modern groove and look, the choir niche would be back in the spotlight and break new ground. They were partly successful - Boys Choirs are back in the spotlight but they don't break new ground. Let me explain.

As I mentioned before, the London Boys Choir was a shtick, a cool new idea that catched everyone's attention. And Yerachmiel Begun succeeded in making this shtick even more cool with amazing concerts and musical indulgence. But as of today the shtick is just way too overdone. You can't let children sing just for letting children sing; it was a cool shtick but without the "newness" of London Boys Choir and without the glitz of Miami Experience this niche has become soulless. You have choirs and more choirs, but all essentially doing the same thing and the same shticks.

Why can't we come up with other new shticks? For instance, why not have a really solid Men's Choir album, with top production, compositions and real music (not Acapella) supporting them? That's just one example, but there's a lot of room for innovation and I just don't understand why so many artists decide to venture in the the Boys Choirs genre creating yet another boys choir. Enough Boys Choirs!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Jewish Star: The Top 3

Just came across COLlive's video where the three judges debate each of the top 10 contestants. I'm pleasantly surprised to see that the judges were very straightforward and didn't play safe, specially Avraham Fried, JM's new Simon. Who would expect that? I was expecting some bias towards the Chabad niggunim but the judges were consistent, transparent and on the ball. Ohayon and Binyamim Moshe (quoting Peilin, "Adir Ran with a good voice"!) were sure winners, while the third post was open and Sadon took it.

March 7th is fast approaching and this competition has been great for JM. But between Ohayon and Moshe who will win? I'm all in for Ohayon, surely the next Jewish Star!

And the Top 3 Finalists Are... from COLlive.com on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Jewish Star: Yehuda Menashe?

While the Jewish Star contest is going to the next stage, another star popped up in the Jewish Music scene recently.

In the first video I thought he was very off tune but I actually like the second very much - he sings Vezakeini with a lot of intensity and his notes are nice, so a little more experience and voice coaching might turn him into something very special. I can only begin to imagine what would happen if Yossi Green would produce an album with him. Perhaps COLlive should invite him as a guest star in Soul to Soul?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Matisyahu's Infected Mushrooms


Jim sent me this brand new remix of Matis' hit song One Day by Infected Mushroom. I love this song and prefer Matisyahu's original version, but it's nice to see that this song is becoming more and more popular. But my favorite song of Matis' new album is this one. And yours?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Inside Scoop: A Jewish Star's Email Update

A reader sent me this update email from COLlive, sent to the Jewish Star contestants today. Although we were told that the judges would choose 3 singers, now they announced a semi-final stage with 10 participants! I think that's really cool and I look forward to see how this will play out. This whole Jewish Star project is clearly being changed and adapted to the public's feedback, and I think we should give credit to COLlive for being flexible and not afraid of improving this competition. Here's the full update:

From: A Jewish Star
Date: January 25, 2010 1:31:00 AM EST
To: "Editor COLlive.com"
Subject: Before Calculating the semi-finalists

Dear contestant,

As the voting stage of A Jewish Star comes to a close, we would like take this opportunity to thank you for joining our competition and wish you luck on the next round (and with your musical career).

Before the votes are calculated to determine the 10 semi-finalists, please reply to this email, verifying that you will be available to attend the Soul II Soul concert, to take place in Brooklyn, NY, on Sunday, March 7, 2010 in the event that you are chosen as a finalist.

Please reply to this email by Wednesday, January 27, 2010 confirming you will be able to attend, perform on stage and be interviewed. If we do not receive email verification you may be eliminated.
If you have any questions you may email to this address as well.

Thanks again and Good Luck!

COLlive - A Jewish Star

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
COLlive.com | Community News Service
1650 Eastern Parkway #208, Brooklyn, NY 11233
t. 718-679-9450 |
w. www.COLlive.com | www.AJewishStar.com

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ohad, Haiti and Leonard Cohen

Call me ignorant, naive or just plain stupid but I didn't know Ohad's Boi Kallah was an adaptation of Leonard Cohen's Halelluja. But shortly after hearing Ohayon's video in A Jewish Star, Nathalia and Gabriel - two famous goyish artists - made a tribute to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti with a adaptation of Halleluja of Leonard Cohen. I was then able to compare it to Ohad's version, and it turns out that Ohad didn't change much in the arrangement nor singing - he sings it pretty much in the same way, and I happen to prefer the goyish version.

I'm posting three videos - of Ohad, Leonard Cohen's original and Nathalie and Gabriel. Judge for yourself. Warning: In the vid of Nathalia there Kol Isha towards the middle of the song but Gabriel is the first singer and you can get an idea of it. (actually, he sounds like a lady so maybe you should skip it anyway!)

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Jewish Star: The Fourth Judge

There has been a great amount of buzz about COL's Jewish Star and without any doubt, this initiative is revolutionary in JM. This proves again that Chabad dominates Jewish Music big time - it's no surprise that they had the courage to create this event and that most of the contestants are Chabadniks.

A Jewish Star comes after American Idol's success and this is pretty much a copycat, in a JM version. I have no problem with that, since American Idol's formula has been copied in almost everywhere and it seems like this is what people want to see today. But the only thing we are missing is Simon's fearless comments and I'm afraid A. Fried, Peilin and the Neshoma guy will not say the truth as it is. So here I am, the fourth judge!

Moishe Savoy - Good potential but he needs more time - he's too young - and coaching. The chair holding the door closed was funny!

Binyomin Schapiro
- Bad song choice. If you are recording professionally like he did, you should choose a more challenging song. It's a very easy song - no words and very small range.

Itzchak Bondarev-Dobruskin - From Azerbaijan! Wow! But this is another bad song choice - Keili Ato is far to easy and doesn't allow him to show off his voice. Also, a funny clip - Walking around Azerbaijan's beaches with a Tallis!

Yisroel Koch
- Reminds me of Chaim David a little. It's nice to see a simple, heimish guitar solo and it's a nice niggun.

Moshe Lehr - Although the intro was a little over-the-top, Moshe has a very strong presence and this will work in his favor. He has a nice voice timber and could make into the top three.

Gershon Shapiro
- Nothing wrong with this clip but is forgettable, and this clip doesn't stands out. But it does stands in the roof-top - an hilarious play with the words of this song "Omed al Gag Beit Hamikdash". Intentional?

Mendel Markel - I disagree with the song choice again. Mendel has a great voice but a more mainstream song would surely work better for him, but it's possible that this Fabrengen-style song will please the Chabad judges.

Shuky Sadon
- A solid professional recording, although he could use some voice coaching. Well done and we will see what the judges think.

Benny Gammerman
- Probably the most Heimish video of all, this is not an easy song to sing and Benny carries it with confidence and with a well-coached voice, reminding me of one of Lev Tahor's soloists. I think he will do very well with a better production, so Benny has good chances of going to the next stage.

Choni Teitelbaum
- Choni has a very sweet and pleasant voice, and he does a fantastic job in the piano. He might be the dark-horse.

Avraham Ohayon
- A sure winner, this Frenchmen is the best video in this competition. Professional recording, superb song choice from Ohad's latest album and a distinctive voice, this video propelled this anonymous talent into the JM scene. Exciting!

Aryeh Greenberg
- Very simple setting, this video has nothing bad but it doesn't stands out. And he is often off tune, so I don't know if he was successful in "bringing Nachas to the Rebbe".

Sam Omari
- The oldest contestant, this very professional video is reminiscent from JM old days. But a lot has changed and this video seems out of place.

Motti Flikshtein
- The low point of this competition, I don't consider this to be a song; Mor To Life should've written a letter instead. And "MorToLife" actually has better recordings in his site, so it remains a mystery why he decided to send this thing in.

Boruch Sholom Blesofsky
- The most innovative video, it starts with a cute piano intro that steers to a whole other direction. Boruch tried to do something cool, and he was actually successful in that, but I don't like the song and he is off tune.

Nissen Brenenson - Too much hand-gesturing, but Nissen's voice is very promising. But I don't think this was enough to make him pass.

Yermi Udkoff - It was a mistake to sing two songs - it made this video forgettable and long. But Yermi has a very good voice and if the judges take only this into account, he might have a chance.

Shmuli Stiefel
- Shmuli is evidently trying to imitate Helfgot and that's a big bill. I wonder if a Chazzan will pass, but Shmuli could be a decent Chazan with a good voice coach.

Yisroel Dovid Shmueli
- The bad song choice made this video forgettable.

Noach Reshef
- Long live Topol!

Tzvi Russell - Very spirited performance, but another bad song choice.

Avremel Blesofsky - Waaaay to much digital manipulation half-way. Over-the-top.

Shmuly Rimler
- Simple setting. I think Aderaba was too hard.

Dorai Natanel
- I like this "back-to-Yeshiva" video. Recorded in the boys' room in France, this is a duet, so the question is if duos can win or not. Nice, and I like very much the guy in the piano.

Binyamin Moshe - This is a very Israeli-styled video. I believe the American judges will not appreciate this original composition, but this is one of my favs. It reminds me of Adi Ran's uber-famous Ata Kadosh and I am a fan of Israeli JM as well, so kudos to this youngster from Lod.

Choni Grunblatt - In the boring side but not a bad video.