Archive for June, 2011

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Thoughts On The Voice: Final Part 2 – Coronation!

June 29, 2011

Opening Remarks

“Best performances ever seen on television!” Really,CarsonDaly? And don’t pretend that these four weren’t “full-fledged artists” at the start of the competition. They had more combined musical experience than Idol’s top 13, that’s for damn sure.

 

Tonight Show Montage

Note how no one is actually excited to see Jay Leno. How many of the top 4 are Team CoCo?

 

Vicci Martinez and Pat Monahan – “Drops Of Jupiter”

Holy shit Pat Monahan looks like Nick Nolte’s iconic mug shot. Was he doing meth before he came to the show? Is this part of a community service deal to look like a “this is you on drugs” PSA? His voice is strung out like a bad Bob Dylan impersonator. Other than some slick dance moves, the only purpose the guy from Train served was to make Vicci look professional and sound good. Oh and also elicit more of that Classic Carson Contempt: “Thanks to our friend PAT from TRAIN!” “Train are going to… be… on… [looks Pat up and down in a ‘what the fuck’ way as he walks away]… tour… withAdamandtheguysfromMaroon5.”

 

Javier Colon and Stevie Nicks – “Landslide”

Next to Stevie Javier sure looks stiff and unsure. He doesn’t know what to do with his hands since he’s been stripped of his guitar. He definitely sings the high harmony, that’s for sure. Still it was an even matching of opposites: Stevie all flowy, raspy, and heartbroken; Javier all stiff, sonorous, and optimistic.  The end result was good and not in a freakshow sense like poor Vicci had to deal with.

 

Beverly McClellan and Ryan Tedder – “Good Life”

Whoa! The Onerepublic guy was just on Platinum Hit (just like Rodney Jerkins. Synergy!) Speaking of Platinum Hit, Ryan Tedder should stick to songwriting because his singing was so pitchy that Randy “Status Quo” Jackson would have an aneurysm. Beverly tried her best to match Ryan’s clowning around with her own awkward stage moves. She also sang pretty well, not that you could hear her over the bleating. She knows that she’s not likely to win so she’s dorking it up, dammit!

 

Dia Frampton and Miranda Lambert – “House That Built Me”

This was probably the most traditional performance of all: sparse arrangement, singers front and center, lots of quiet-loud-quiet singing, inspirational themes, and a great showcase of harmonizing. The only non-traditional aspects of the performance were Dia’s ratty tank top worn under her dress, and Miranda Lambert’s pink microphone that looked like a cyborg novelty vibrator.

 

An Aside

Not counting the recap montages, this show really burned through the results. They are not bloating this and I love it! The running time of this finale is indicative of one of the things that The Voice more pleasant than its competition – its brevity. This is the 12th Voice recap I have written, whereas I did 30 posts on Idol and I didn’t really get into it until the Top 24. By the time that show’s finale hit I was tired of the show and writing mainly for closure. By contrast, The Voice never really wore out its welcome for me.

 

Top 2 who were within 2% of each other on the votes (Interesting….)

  1. Javier Colon (#2 on iTunes)
  2. Dia Frampton (#1 on iTunes)

 

And The Winner Is….

Javier Colon! He was the only guy in the Top 4 and he played acoustic guitar, so given the old Idol patterns it kind of made sense that he took the prize.  He had a family man backstory, non-threatening good looks, and a singing style that was high and straightforward, albeit a bit boring.

Still, I can’t necessarily say that America got it wrong with its vote: objectively Javier is very talented. I think Dia, Beverly, and Vicci were more engaging and entertaining, but Javier’s brand of adult contemporary sells, so I’m not raging.

 

That about does it for the music competition reality show recapping for awhile. After a few months of these posts, I would like to get back into straight-up music writing again. However, I would like to thank the awesome Kathy from Sanguine Style for co-writing and/or editing a good chunk of these recaps. You are the best writing partner!

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Thoughts On The Voice: Final Part 1 – Competition!

June 28, 2011

Voice Coaches – “Under Pressure”

That was the laziest Queen cover ever. Adam Levine chickened out on the high notes, Cee Lo was melodically talking, Christina did the same old cannon moves, and Blake seemed like the only one who was trying, so….not a good sign. If Freddie Mercury wasn’t cremated, he would be rolling over in his grave so fast he could provide power to all ofLondonfor the rest of the year.

 

After laying out the agenda of the show, Carson Daly proceeds to ask the contestants the most obvious and inane questions. “How will you perform an original song, Dia?” Not that Seacrest wouldn’t have done the same thing in that position, but Seacrest isn’t equal parts oak and contempt. The highlight of the opening Q&A round was Daly’s little dig at his TRL past.

 

An Aside

Oh v-correspondent Alison Haislip, I should question your role on the show, but in this economy everyone needs a job. Let’s get five v-correspondents next season, NBC! It’s not like the current administration is going to bring back the Works Progress Administration

 

Javier Colon – “Stitch By Stitch”

Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins is the producer for Javier’s original song. Dude has been all over the TV lately from Idol to Platinum Hit to The Voice. This track is yawn-inducing acoustic guitar-pop rock that wouldn’t sound out of place in the mid-to-late 2000s from Josh Kelly, Daniel Powter, and/or Ryan Cabrera. As for the singing Javier is competent, but his belting is bleary, unfocused, and maybe a little drunken. Javier seems like a decent singer and all-around dude, but the kind of music he makes does not interest me.

 

Dia Frampton and Blake Shelton – “I Won’t Back Down”

It’s pretty cool that both Dia and Blake are wearing matching suits and sunglasses. It’s a little dorky, but it’s cute. Musically I thought the performance was decent. The Tom Petty original is pretty catchy, the house band executed well, and both Dia and Blake sang competently, if maybe a little melodramatic. Then again, melodrama fits the song’s theme of defiance, so it’s all good.

 

Vicci Martinez – “Afraid To Sleep”

Butch Walker of Marvelous 3 is on the boards for Vicci’s original. Also it’s weird to see Cee Lo without sunglasses. Kathy says he has pretty eyes. For the performance Vicci goes full on Bonnie Tyler with the smoky floor and lilting piano intro. When the rock guitars, string section and backup singers kick in for the big chorus, I feel like Jon Bon Jovi could have sung this song in 1986. The power ballad format suits Vicci well though. The quiet-loud contour of the song gives Vicci great solo moments and allows her tiny spaces of subtlety before she unleashes her power yell. Again, it’s not my jam, but Vicci was true and fabulous. Respect.

 

Pitbull & Ne-Yo – “Give Me Everything”

I think I saw these guys perform this song on Dancing With The Stars, and they had sound problems then. This time both guys are at the right volume level, but I couldn’t hear the hot dance backing track. At least neither Pitbull nor Ne-Yo was lip-synching. I reiterate that Pitbull was born to rap hip-house, while Ne-Yo is the consummate cool professional right down to the hat.

 

Beverly McClellan and Christina Aguilera – “Beautiful”

So Linda Perry, who wrote what is arguably the most important Xtina song, is in the studio for the practice round and onstage for the performance. That has to be really cool for Beverly, to perform with both Perry and Aguilera on national TV. She rises to the occasionally, singing a few runs while remaining understated, knocking a good wail, and harmonizing beautifully with Christina. Ms. Aguilera in turn shares the spotlight graciously and backsBeverlyup surprisingly well, though she does get the last run. It is her song.

 

Dia Frampton – “Inventing Shadows”

For the original song practice montage, Dia makes a slight allusion to her Meg and Dia past, but then quickly moves away from it. Dia’s soft alto is solid and warm. She sings with moderate power and great passion, so I’m good with her. Musically I’m not surprised that the writer had written for Adele and Keane, as the music has piano-driven crescendos and Coldplay-esque smash drumming – hallmarks of ultra-successful British adult contemporary pop. Props to Dia, Blake and their support team for going with what will sell.

 

Javier Colon and Adam Levine – “Man In The Mirror”

I am so sick of this song. You guys couldn’t have done “Beat It?” Javier makes Adam pay for poor song choice by showing him up on the performance. This song is so heavy on the high twinkly keyboards that it swallows Adam’s falsetto on the verses. Javier goes for a lower key and actually sounds good. For the chorus the two guys sound pretty good together. Quite frankly the performance could have gone a lot worse and that speaks to the caliber of this show’s performers compared to their Idol counterparts (remember, this was performed twice on the other show.)

 

Brad Paisley – “Don’t Drink The Water”

Brad Paisley delivers a travel warning wrapped up in a cute, silly blues-country package. Blake Shelton suddenly gets up from his coach chair to sing the second verse. He even dorks it up by playing air guitar while Paisley kicks out a neat guitar solo. It’s a nice moment in an otherwise merely solid song.

 

Beverly McClellan – “Love Sick”

It’s probably best thatBeverlyis the last to perform her original, because she knocks out the catchiest of the four performances. The verses are Kiss/Van Halen stomp rock, the chorus is soaring Fountains Of Wayne power pop, and the piano bridge is more of that hot soul, complete with more Little Richard WOOOOOOOOOO!s It’s very clear why Beverly jived with Christina, because she does tons of vocal runs and power belts, and she just commands the stage without being cloying. In other words, this was pop singing as virtuosity. This was the best of the night.

 

Vicci Martinez and Cee Lo Green – “Love Is A Battlefield”

Of course Cee Lo closes things dressed like a WWE wrestler. Vicci sees Cee Lo’s WWE and raises him a “Tina Turner in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome” ensemble. It was pretty fun performance. Both Vicci and Cee Lo have great and unique singing styles and they really get into the music. The childrens breaker ensemble was a nice homage to the video of the Pat Benatar original. It was a great way to end the night.

 

Tonight was very entertaining. Compared to the Idol final, tonight’s show left me feeling much less impatient about the proceedings. I attribute this feeling to several factors:

  • A diverse slate of contestants who all deserve props for their talents
  • A set of judges willing to put some skin in the game (and on the stage)
  • More fun song choices (at least for the covers)

I won’t be heading to the newly announced Voice tour (especially since the coaches won’t be on the bill), but I’m still pleased with how this show has turned out. It has been more engaging than annoying, which is as good a compliment as I can pay a music competition show.

 

Ranking

  1. Beverly McClellan
  2. Vicci Martinez
  3. Dia Frampton
  4. Javier Colon
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Thoughts On The Voice: Top 8 Results Show

June 22, 2011

Daly rattles off a bunch of iTunes statistics and already we’re on to the music. Thank you President Obama for cutting into the show and convincing The Voice to move things along!

Top 8 Contestants – “Freedom ’90 + Faith”

Considering I don’t know much about George Michael’s music, I thought this was a solid performance. Most of the contestants can harmonize with each other and each of them nailed their generous solos, at least vocally. Poor Xenia still looked unsure about everything, Casey looked as stiff as Chris Parnell’s Tom Brokaw, Vicci looked like she was struggling to be heard over the mix when she sounded just fine, Beverly continued with her chicken dance antics, and Javier was totally coasting. Nakia, Dia, and Frenchie killed their parts, though. Such power belting!

 

Team Cee Lo Eliminations – Nakia vs. Vicci

  • Cee Lo’s Vote: 51% Nakia, 49% Vicci because Vicci was buried in the drum line.
  • Popular Vote: Vicci by a damn wide margin.

Vicci Martinez makes the Top 4. I did not see that coming, but that’s not a bad thing! Vicci just barely missed my Top 3 last night, and her fun, powerful style and righteous swagger ensure that we’re in for a good night next week.

 

Cee Lo Green – “Bright Lights, Bigger City”

The man wears more wigs than Lady Gaga. After an odd big band intro complete with a quartet of flappers, Cee Lo goes right into one of the best songs on The Lady Killer. While he sounded out of breath at parts, I’ll chalk that up to his having to give his contestant elimination speech right before he went on stage. That aside he still sang with great effort and never lost his quirky, cheesy style. Not even the horrendously incongruous backup dancers could take that away from him.

 

Team Adam Eliminations – Casey vs. Javier

  • Adam’s Vote: 65% Javier, 35% Casey because while Adam sugarcoated his words, he could be honest in his numbers. It was no contest.
  • Popular Vote: Javier who at the grand total had more twice as many points as Casey. I kind of feel bad for her, though did anyone not see that coming?

Javier Colon powers into the Top 4 by one of the widest margins I have seen (that’s the other neat thing about this show – they show the actual voting percentages.) His style is a little too mellow for me, but of all the music competition show contestants I have rooted against, a victory for Javier is still a fair win because I respect the dude’s talent.

 

Team Blake Eliminations – Dia vs. Xenia

  • Blake’s Vote: 50/50. What a chicken. I think that Blake likes Xenia more as a person, but he knows that if he gave her more points than Dia there would be a thousand cries of “This is bullshit!” heard across the nation.
  • Popular Vote: Dia by a surprisingly close margin.

Dia Frampton makes the Top 4 and gets closer to her goal of avenging her old band Meg & Dia while Blake gets to put words in Dia’s mouth post-elimination. You shut your tool mouth, Blake Shelton! Seriously though, Dia’s alternately cuddly and sharp emoting will make her a force to be reckoned with in the finals. She’s been one of my favorites this season.

 

Team Xtina Eliminations – Beverly vs. Frenchie

  • Christina’s Vote: 50/50. What a chicken. I’ll concede that Frenchie has the better story, but Beverly clearly pulled off the stronger rendition last night.
  • Popular Vote: Clearly for Beverly.

Beverly’s combination of bluesy growl and Mick Jagger stage moves make her one of the more lighthearted contestants Top 4. Still her victory is further indicative of this show’s audience preference for talent over story. And after the travesty that was the voting on this past season of Idol, I have much respect for the show’s audience.

I’m pretty happy with how this show’s finals lineup turned out. I’m rooting for Vicci, Dia, and Beverly, and while I’m not into Javier I can respect how he’s a near shoo-in to win the prize. As annoyed as I have been with the coaches’ antics and song choices, I am pleased with how this show has played out so far.

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Thoughts On The Voice: Top 8 + Last Week’s Results

June 21, 2011

Woohoo! By the end of this show the Top 8 will have performed. This show does not waste time! Carson Daly takes the stage dressed about as well as your garden variety NBA rookie in that bland brown suit and proceeds to blah blah his way through the opener. What a tool. On to the eliminations!

Team Cee-Lo Eliminations

Vicci Martinez takes the popular vote and the women continue to bring in the wins! This is also indicative this show’s audience tastes – so far they support actual talent. Seriously, as far as the popular vote-getters have gone, I have had no problems. Cee Lo then gives his vote to Nakia, who despite kind of flubbing last week’s performance and having that “Chosen One” distinction (he’s in so many of the promos,) is still a solid singer and different enough from they typical music competition show contestant. I’m quite happy to wave goodbye to Curtis “flat like a pancake” Grimes and the Tori and Taylor Terror Teen Show.

Team Adam Eliminations

Javier Colon takes the popular vote. Javier has a crazy melodic voice and doesn’t annoy me with his instrument abilities, so it’s fair that he takes the win. Then Casey takes Adam’s vote and spares me the displeasure of having to hear Dr. Dumpy Barley or Jeff Jenkins aka Mr. Amateur Vocal Range. She has that Haley Reinhart fighting spirit and limited vocal quality, but like Haley late into Idol’s run, she knows how to push her bluesy wail to its limits (and doesn’t have the mugging tendencies.) Also, we have a Top 8 where 75% of the contestants are women, one guy is openly gay, and one guy is of color. Could we have a diverse anti-Idol finals?

Frenchie Davis – “Like A Prayer”

Frankly I was disappointed by this performance. Frenchie is a damn good singer and can belt with the best of them, so when she fails to distinguish herself from the backup singers or lets them cover the chorus while she snaps her fingers, the overall experience feels phoned in. The two power note moments towards the end were good, but they felt tacked on. I would have preferred more energy throughout the performance to a few moments of vocal pyrotechnics.

Nakia – “Whattaya Want From Me”

Nakia is back in business! His big cannon moment fell a little short, but otherwise his gruff wail was on key, he had tons of energy, and you could sense that he was really trying. His sense of showmanship from last week continued as well, so this performance was the total package. Unless the other contestants pull out the stops, he might have earned the “Chosen One” spot.

Dia Frampton – “Losing My Religion”

While Dia’s take on the R.E.M. classic doesn’t take as many risks as her “Heartless” cover, she still knocks this out with her signature singing style. It’s soft and emotional, but there’s also just a hint of power and edginess that could make her hot with the indie set. She really let the power build in the performance, and it was a home run!

Casey Weston – “I Will Always Love You”

Ouch. You know that unless Casey did something original like freaky Bjork-esque beatboxing or throat singing or a pop punk cover a la New Found Glory, she was not going to live up to expectations. Even if she sang this song well, under the current arrangement this song is too damn pageanty. That her held notes couldn’t have been shakier if she was singing on the San Andreas fault was just icing on the fail cake. [Also, stop hitting on the contestants, Blake Shelton. You’re married and how old is she? It’s creepy!]

Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera – “Moves Like Jagger”

This is pretty cool. It has the upbeat pacing of MJ’s “P.Y.T.,” James Brown’s “Super Bad,” or Maroon 5’s own “Little Of Your Time.” The instrumentation is tight and Adam’s high tenor/falsetto shows how he earned his spot on the judging panel. When Xtina shows up for the bridge, her power vocals seem a little underwhelming. It’s a shame because Christina has demonstrated that she can kick ass on her more uptempo songs like “Ain’t No Other Man.” Overall the song felt a little too cold for me, but it was still catchy and fun.

Beverly McClellan – “The Thrill Is Gone”

Beverly’s vocals were a bit too mush-mouthed and she still has awkward Celine Dion stage moves. Otherwise, she kicked ass! Beverly’s smoky voice fits this song like a glove as it is, but when she began to break out the Little Richard WOOOOOOO!’s and Robert Plant growls, hot damn she was good! Her performance was dynamic, varied, energetic, and executed like a pro.

Javier Colon – “Fix You”

ZZZZZZZZZZ (or: Fuck Coldplay!) Javier is one of the best singers in the top 8 and he ably demonstrates this towards the end of the performance when he goes on a bunch of these little vocal runs. Between those and his soaring belts towards the beginning, Javier shows he’s no slouch (and gives mopey old Chris Martin a run for his money). It’s too bad that when the arrangement got lively and the rock instrumentation kicked in, Javier suddenly got off key and overwhelmed. It took on a shouty amateur quality, which just killed the middle. Can Javier carry a tune when the instrumentation is full, or is he a more competent version of Thia Megia?

Blake Shelton ft. Dia Frampton and Xenia – “Honeybee”

For the hundredth time, I’m largely ignorant of country music, so I can’t grade Blake on execution, but he seems to sing decently for a male mainstream country performer (he even nails the big belty finish.) The arrangement is similarly competent, so good for the band. When Dia and Xenia come out to join Blake for the final chorus they pretty much follow Blake’s vocal, which is good since their entrances were kind of awkward (particularly Xenia’s.)

Xenia – “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved”

Xenia makes a few improvements from awkward effort two weeks ago. She’s projecting her voice more. She’s conveying more emotion in her face and body language. She’s also styled a lot better. However, she still needs to develop a stage presence. Her low, slightly gravelly voice was buried in the mix and she looked almost as unsure as she did for “Price Tag.” To her credit, she can handle herself much better in ballady songs like this, so maybe she’s working out her niche. I still feel as though she can’t hold a candle to her competition. She’s still in her teens, so she might be up for kicking ass in a few years.

Vicci Martinez – “Dog Days”

First off, that drumline setup was pretty cool. You don’t see that a lot on shows like these, especially when the contestants join in the drumming. It may have slightly hampered Vicci’s singing, which was a bit pitchy at times. However, fuck that was passionate! When the song peaked, she was belting and jumping and running around like Andrew W.K. on cocaine. Vicci sang competently, and not as good as last week, but she made up for it with her knack for the spectacle.

Next week is the final four competition so things are wrapping up pretty quickly. As much as I like The Voice’s brevity and fast turnaround time, Kathy brought up a good point that many contestants don’t get the chance to really develop new skills or work out performance tics. This is maybe the one redeeming factor of the crucible that is American Idol. Notice that the contestants that have been raking in the wins often have performance experience, so they’re good to go (Javier, Dia, Frenchie, Vicci.) Lately I haven’t been feeling too patient, so I appreciate that contestants who have their acts together have been scoring votes. I’m just glad that the coaches have been forcing the contestants to take risks to varying results.

Top 3

  1. Dia Frampton
  2. Beverly McClellan
  3. Nakia

Bottom 3

  1. Casey Weston
  2. Xenia
  3. Javier Colon
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Internet Roundup

June 20, 2011

Back in the late 90s, Jamiroquai was one of those crossover acts that convinced my alternative and electronic-addled teen self to take R&B and disco music seriously. Some Kind Of Awesome has their new song “Smile” up for free download. The song’s artwork says it all – sunny and slow buring. It mixes the chill bounciness of Stevie Wonder with the spacey melodies of Steve Miller. Those used to Jay Kay’s more bumping singles like “Canned Heat,” and “Feels Just Like It Should,” might be taken aback, but I can assure you “Smile” brings mellow goodness.

Now if you need that uptempo crazy dance awesomeness, boogie on down to Hard Candy. They posted the Hype Jones remix of Dev’s track “In The Dark.” It’s like an even more propulsive and energetic “Like A G6” (on which Dev raps the chorus.)  While that’s hardly a novel compliment, good dance music is good dance music and you could do a lot worse with a free download.

In somewhat more serious news, 50 Cent is writing a book about a bully who learns the error of his ways. Katherine St. Asaph at Popdust points out that while 50 has used violent imagery in his music, he’s far more qualified to write about bullying than the 5 acts that make up her rundown. Highlights of the list include John Mayer (“…anyone who ironically or not refers to part of himself as a “white supremacist” is not the right person to be teaching kids about bullying….”) and Katy Perry (“UR So Gay” would be enough, with lyrics like “you’re so gay, and you don’t even like boys” that even the hardest bullies would smear off the bathroom stall like Good Samaritans.”)

Finally, my condolences go out to the families and friends of Clarence Clemons (1942-2011) and Ryan Dunn (1977-2011.) Rest in peace.

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Thoughts On The Voice: Top 16 Part 2 – Team Adam vs. Team Cee Lo + Elimination

June 15, 2011

“Let’s get on with it,” says Carson Daly at the start of the show. We have a bit of a Time Crisis here, since the show has to cram a competition portion and a results portion into the same 2 hour block. Can everyone involved shoot through the filler to get everything in on time?

Team Xtina Bottom 3

  1. Lily Elise (No poise, no control, no fun)
  2. Raquel Castro (Needs to get a few more experiences and some vocal power)
  3. Frenchie Davis (She held her own against a Kelly Rowland song. Need I say more?)

Beverly wins the popular vote (good for her, she totally deserved it), while Frenchie takes Christina’s vote. Both winning women are proven performers with lots of experience. We’re off to a great start!

Tori and Taylor Thompson – “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”

The teen creepshow is up first. Also, did Cee Lo just find a song that’s too old for Idol? It’s Flag Day, so I guess that excuses the song choice (though you can hear the acid in Daly’s voice as he sarcastically yells “HAPPY FLAG DAY EVERYONE!” at the end of the song.) Jonathan Taylor Thomas sings almost entirely in harmony with rarely a solo moment for either sister. I suppose that plays to their strengths and the hooks of their audition, but frankly I wasn’t impressed with their harmonizing. The spectacle, as catchy as it was with its WWII aesthetics and troupe of dancing bugle boys, failed to cover up the mediocrity. Also, Christina rightly calls Cee Lo out for ripping off her “Candyman” video (which was a lot better both musically and stylistically).

Casey Weston – “Black Horse And The Cherry Tree”

Katherine McPhee rode this song to a runner-up spot in Season 5 of Idol, plus it’s damn catchy. As over the top as the arrangement was, Casey held her own and never got overshadowed up by the backup singers, trashcan drumline, or pushy harmonica. I say this because I feel like some of these contestants would have choked like LeBron James on a song like this. My only criticisms are that Casey should have been more at the forefront and that she brought out the belting way too early in the song. Otherwise it was pretty good.

Vicci Martinez – “Jolene”

Right at the start, Vicci uses her smoky voice to lend a dusty, emotional quality to this country heartbreaker. Even when the percussion kicks in and the performance gets closer to a Stevie Nicks parody, Vicci stays in control and maintains the tired desperation in the performance. When she finally goes for the power note, it feels earned because of her vocal buildup. Yes, there was an actual buildup! Overall the arrangement was herky-jerky, but Vicci’s singing was impeccable. Go Vicci!

Devon Barley – “Stop And Stare”

Fuck Ryan Tedder! I expected the performance to be boring before Devon sang a note and bless his heart he met my expectations. It’s not that his singing was shitty, it was mediocre. The very sound of his voice didn’t fit the big pop rock arrangement. The coaches say Devon has a strong vocal but to me it sounds heavy and awkward like a lead balloon. I don’t expect Adam to make Devon start singing slacker songs from bands like Dinosaur Jr, but fuck he was out of his league. Go back to med school, Dr. Dumpy.

Team Cee Lo – “Everyday People”

Remember, this is team Cee Lo, so the performance is a colorful retro spectacle. All of the contestants are playing instruments, there are hippie backup dancers, and Cee Lo is wearing a poncho and afro wig. It’s like Cirque du Soleil doing a Sly and the Family Stone show. The only downer is Curtis, whose drawl is a non-entity is this brassy bacchanal.

Nakia – “Sex On Fire”

Two straight weeks of Kings Of Leon? There’s a lot of empty space in the song, so Nakia has plenty of time to build up his voice for a series of concussive bursts of his signature blues wail. He really makes use of the stage and has great sense of showmanship, dropping to the floor like James Brown towards the end of the piece. The nature of the song may have been too easy for Nakia, and I get this feeling that he’s going to be in the producer-ordained top 4 regardless of actual talent, but he did a good job.

Jeff Jenkins – “Jesus Take The Wheel”

ZZZZZZZ. The verse of the song is equal parts Haley Reinhart mush mouth and Awkward Teen from The Simpsons. When the chorus kicks in and Jeff finally gets some power notes, he sounds as off key as an average congregant singing in a Catholic mass. In other words, Jesus Take the Autotune.

Team Adam – “With A Little Help From My Friends”

The church theme continues with the organ, high school gospel choir, and stained glass backdrop. The choir feels like cheating to me, as each singer, including Adam, gets maybe 3 seconds of solo time. Then Javier gets a second go at a solo and kicks his team’s collective ass with some vocal pyrotechnics. It was the highlight of a meh performance.

Curtis Grimes – “Addicted To Love”

Ah now we have some “risk-taking.” OMG he’s a country musician doing a rock song! Did your mind just get blown? Cee Lo’s gamble fails horribly as Curtis melts into a sloppy pile of baritone slush. The audience then has to listen to that slush for another 90 seconds. Scotty McCreery was 2/3rds this guy’s age and had 2/3rds more singing ability.

Javier Colon – “Angel”

This was a poor song choice, Adam. It was sweet and inspirational in the late 90s, but then there was that commercial with the dogs (oh man, the dogs.) So Javier has that against him going into the performance. It’s a good thing that he’s one of the better singers in the competition, as he nails most of the notes and adds about 200 more notes of vocal runs like they’re so much noodling. Objectively it was solid, but it was just no fun.

And for the conclusion of the elimination sandwich.

Team Blake Bottom 3

  1. Jared Blake (A good heart, a great spirit, a meh voice)
  2. Xenia (Too damn green)
  3. Patrick Thomas (Boring at best, shaky at worst)

Dia takes the popular vote, which rocks. Like Frenchie, Dia also has lots of experience from her days in Meg & Dia, and her “Heartless” cover had enough originality and emotion to make her mark on the show. Xenia takes Blake’s vote, which, what the fuck dude? I give the show props for having women make up at least half of the top 8, but Xenia is as stiff and awkward as a Michael Cera archetype played by Thia Megia.

I’m starting to get annoyed with this show. Most of the coaches’ song choices were stale, many of the contestants’ voices were wanting, the visuals were ridiculous (see: the very literal screen background for “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,”) and the coaches are still too damn nice when they should be doing actual coaching. I do appreciate that they cram the whole process into one episode, so it has not bloated to the point of the Idol dinosaur. I’m starting to come around to Carson Daly and the sheer contempt he has for the show and everyone involved. He’s much better sarcastic and bitter than wooden.

Top 3

  1. Vicci Martinez
  2. Casey Weston
  3. Javier Colon

Bottom 3

  1. Curtis Grimes
  2. Jeff Jenkins
  3. Devon Barley
h1

Internet Roundup

June 13, 2011

First off, congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks for winning the 2011 NBA Finals and defeating the Miami Heat to avenge their 2006 Finals loss! Crazy old Mark Cuban gets a trophy and crazy old Lebron James gets to brood for another year. My condolences to the rest of the Heat team and the Miami fans, but BAHAHAHAHAHA TOO BAD SO SAD LEBRON.

Since the PlayStation Network fucking finally came back online I’ve been catching up with the backlog of DLC for Rock Band, especially since I took the offline time to start learning Pro Keys. The new Lady Gaga DLC is a given, but I’m crazy excited for tomorrow’s release of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” and A-Ha’s “Take On Me” for the game. The former has a good mix of shout-along karaoke, big instrumentation, and a little politics. The latter has that hot keyboard line and that fabulous low-high singing. Too bad the song won’t come with a video filter that lets players import the band into “Take On Me’s” iconic video. Eh, a good party song is a good party song.

Meanwhile, Andrew Unterberger of Popdust has a takedown of Eminem’s recent dis on Lady Gaga. I won’t go too much into it, but the takedown reminded me of Sady Doyle’s awesome critique of Odd Future’s Tyler The Creator and his nasty sophomoric rape posturing on Tiger Beatdown. One defense that comes up of both Em andTyler’s offensive content is that “it’s provocative,” or “it’s funny.” What Unterberger hints at and what Doyle really lays out is that these half-assed attempts at “edgy” are tired, trite, and frankly make the tellers seem insecure. I used to be just like that, probably through my early 20s, and I was a dumbass.

Finally, due to some work commitments the next The Voice recap will not be up on Tuesday. I will be DVRing the show and will whip up a recap for Wednesday.