Posts Tagged ‘Javier Colon’

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Thoughts on The Voice Top 8: Final Four Reveal

May 1, 2012

Image edited from original by Mike Licht, Notionscapital.com via Flickr, used under Creative Commons

Ok, we have eight contestants in the semi finals. Six of them gave pretty good performances on Monday night. Plus there’s the return of the judges’ scoring gimmick (because it wouldn’t be The Voice without some kind of crazy gimmick), so we’ll see how this shakes out.

Here are the guest musical performances!
– Dia Frampton and Kid Cudi – “Don’t Kick The Chair” I didn’t know Dia had this kind of catchy indie-sounding dance pop thing in her. She didn’t do much in the way of vocal tricks back in Season 1 and she’s not about to right now, but she sounded really, really good (even if I detected a hint of prerecorded vocal track.) As for her performance, it was like a “Pumped Up Kicks” with, you know, good singing. Even Kid Cudi’s rap verse complemented things. Well done, Dia!

– Vicci Martinez and Cee-Lo Green – “Come Along” While this is more chill than I expected from Vicci, this performance had a classy blues swagger to it. It was like Joan Osborne meets Moby. Vicci and Cee-Lo harmonized really well together. They were also on their best behavior. She didn’t try to punch through every note and he didn’t hog the mic time like he did with the Goodie Mob performance from a few weeks ago.

– Beverly McClellan and Cyndi Lauper – “Money Changes Everything” I’ll concede that I don’t know this Cyndi Lauper song, but Beverly sounds a lot better singing it. Cyndi looked like she was having trouble with her earpiece, and she may have suffered for it. She did recover in time for her big note about 4/5ths, which was decent. Meanwhile Beverly was in the same top form she demonstrated on Season 1, complete with the wide-eyed hammy stage presence.

– Javier Colon – “A Drop In The Ocean” This has to be the most boring performance I have seen tonight. Javier’s only signs of growth and risk taking are ditching his acoustic guitar for a piano. He still failed to engage me with his empty and somewhat depressing singing style. While I respected his Season 1 win, now I’m not so sure. Zzzzzz….

The Final Four

1. Chris Mann (Xtina score 50, voter score 54): I didn’t see that coming. He pulled out ahead on a worship song that’s as old as it gets. The lesson: Never underestimate this show’s lite-pop demographic, which I never knew existed (or thought they all stayed with Idol.)

2. Tony Lucca (Adam score 60, voter score 48): That Adam score took him over the top despite losing the popular vote. I’m chalking this up to producer favoritism since he has that Mickey Mouse Club vengeance story. He’s been improving week to week, but he didn’t perform as well as Katrina did.

3. Jermaine Paul (Blake score 50, voter score 73): Note for note Jermaine has consistently been the best performer on the show this season. He had one flub in top 24 week, but otherwise he’s out on top. He’s been one of the few to balance raw power and genuine emotion on such a professional level. In my opinion, he’s the one to beat.

4. Juliet Sims (Cee-Lo score 60, voter score 61): Yay! We don’t have a four-man final! Juliet definitely gets the trophy for Most Improved. Her performance style was half attitude and half hot air, but she gradually replaced that hot air with melodic snarl. It was definitely enough to knock my predicted Chosen One out of the game. If she brings the soul like she did for the past two weeks, she’s got my vote.

The Losers
– Lindsey Pavao (Xtina score 50, voter score 46): She found her indie groove for her last performance, but it was too late. Weeks of awkward gimmicks and lazy singing obliterated any goodwill she earned in the early rounds.

– Katrina Parker (Adam score 40, voter score 52): Well, she won the popular vote on Team Adam so she can take that consolation. Her performance was catchy, graceful, and pleasant to hear. I guess it wasn’t as desperate.

– Erin Willett (Blake score 50, voter score 27): Ouch. I’ll concede that Erin didn’t bring her best last week, but she’s been one of the most dynamic and charismatic performers this show has had. It’s just a shame she had to go up against Jermaine.

– Jamar Rogers (Cee-Lo score 40, voter score 39): Wow! I won’t say I didn’t see this coming because as good as Jamar’s performance was, Juliet’s was way better. He got kind of cold in his last few performances, and maybe it was enough to swing enough voters to other contestants.

Finally, free Christina Milian! I want to see a “Dip It Low” performance next week!

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Thoughts on The Voice: Audition Round 4

February 20, 2012

Image from Mil on Flickr, used under Creative Commons

25 contestants picked, 23 to go! Will this be the last of the blind audition rounds.

Contestants’ Notes

-I wondered when I would hear a Black Keys song on a show like this. Ducky has the right kind of blues-rock swagger in his rendition of “Tighten Up.” He had a few vocal dips and dives in there as well. It’s too bad that he gets no turns (and the Sweeney Todd look isn’t helping either.) Keep at it, dude!

-Jonathas (wow, 2 one-named performers in a row!) does a pretty good Usher impression on “U Got It Bad.” His voice sounds just like him and he can do the power belting with no problem! He even does a few Ursh-inspired dance moves, which turned out to be a winning play. The coaches can’t see him, but the crowd can, and that burst of applause on his floor slides was just the right thing to get turns from Cee Lo and Christina. Both could be good fits for Jonathas, since they have treaded in R&B and dance pop, but ultimately Xtina is smoother and a better fit for that kind of style.

-I don’t go for midtempo rockers like “Mr. Know It All,” which is what Monique Benabou sings. She throws out lots vocal moves, especially the up and down runs, but for me it’s all show and little go. It’s enough to score a turn from Christina, but I won’t be rooting for her unless she does something more uptempo.

-When I first heard “The Lazy Song,” Bruno Mars was performing it on Idol. I recall that it sounded pleasant. Naia Kete kicks it out for audition and does a pretty good job of capturing its casual exuberance, in spite of her straining voice. Her hippie tip isn’t my bag, but she’ll fit well on Blake’s team. That folksy singer-songwriter thing reminds me of Dia Frampton at best or a more competent Xenia at worst. She ends up picking Blake and I predict that she’ll make it past the battle rounds.

-I give Erick Macek points for taking “Free Fallin’” in a slightly different direction, melody-wise. Unfortunately it feels way blander than the Tom Petty original. This is something your youth pastor busts out at a church retreat without being aware of the slightly druggy undertone in the song. To summarize, he brought no edge! See ya!

-When Charlotte Sometimes first hits the stage, she sounds so bland and mumbly she pulls a convincing Lana Del Rey impression. Eventually she picks herself up, but replaces the bluh-bluh-bluh mumbles with pitchy, snarly signing. I suppose you could tell that she was trying hard and I give her props for doing dynamic in that crummy song “Apologize,” (stupid Ryan Tedder) but I was shocked that she got four turns. Blake compared her to Xenia, which he meant as a compliment, but it’s more of an ominous sign to me. Will history repeat itself in a Naia vs. Charlotte rivalry on Team Blake?

-OK, Tony Vincent is off to a great start simply because he sang a Queen song and it wasn’t “Somebody To Love,” one of the most done-to-death audition pieces I have ever heard. Instead, he went the stadium route with “We Are The Champions.” His only problem was that his vocal reach exceeded his grasp and he couldn’t quite hit those Mercury highs. I hope that he will overcome his twitchiness and nerves and bring the pain on Team Cee Lo.

-Stop singing from your throat and start singing from your gut, Anthony Evans! Unless you’re singing The Bee Gees or Curtis Mayfield I need to hear at least a little low register from you. But if you’re doing “What’s Going On,” you have to fill the whole song, not just the high parts! It’s like Andy Samberg’s Shy Ronnie on the mic. Anthony did get a turn from Xtina, so maybe he’ll pick up a few tricks from her.

-Jamie Lono is a low-key, high-voiced guy with an acoustic guitar. Shit. Four notes into “Folsom Prison Blues,” he gets a turn from Adam, who probably needs a few more Javier Colon Clones on his team. However, Cee Lo wins him over. To his credit, Jamie kicks out more snarl and menace than last year’s winner ever did. He’s likable enough, but he’ll have to work really hard to avoid being just another chotch with a guitar.

-Dylan Chambers had some good opportunities to wow the coaches on the Mark Ronson/Amy Winehouse version of “Valerie,” but he was just too bleary and messy to really make an impression.

-Nathan Anderson sounded like he was mixed way too low. Project, dude!

-Luna Searles does Ethridge, which means immediate Beverly McClellan comparison. She’s no Beverly McClellan, so…adios!

-Adam Lasher lazily growls his way through Nickelback. How does he fare? As Jay-Z once rapped “So Poof! / Vamoose, sonofabitch!

-David Gray’s “Babylon” is a pretty neat song with its quiet-loud dynamic and shoutalong chorus. Justin Hopkins could have gone note-for-note, but he throws in a few little belting runs that might have come across as self-indulgent on a lesser performer. Justin’s moves make the piece feel more energetic in the live setting. Way to score the Cee Lo turn, dude!

-Nicolle Gaylon could stand to maybe tighten up her singing on “You Save Me,” but she still did pretty well. While I didn’t know the song, her performance reminded me of when someone does a slow-burning karaoke song really well. The end result is, for lack of a better word, human connection. If your nerves can fuck you up and you still come off as relatable, you are a good performer.

-Ashley De La Rosa got only a five-second clip, but she sang “Shark In The Water,” when it feels like maybe 500 people in America know who V. V.  Brown is. That takes guts! The few seconds the show featured sounded good, too. Christina gives a turn, so good for Ashley! I hope she doesn’t end up as cannon fodder during the battle rounds

-5-second clip victim Jordan Rager sounded like Scotty McCreery with the bass turned down. He had energy but he’ll be a human shield on Team Blake during the battle rounds.

-Karla Davis did “If I Die Young.” It sounded like your garden variety acoustic jam. She seemed ok, but she’ll be a human shield on Team Adam during the battle rounds.

-Alyx didn’t even get 5 seconds of show time for “Just Like A Pill” and Blake picked her. This show needs to work on its pacing.

-Eric Tipton kicks out “You Make My Dreams” and he sounds solid. His range isn’t as dynamic as some of the other contestants, nor is he packing the raw power that the other contestants have. He fails to earn any turns, and the coaches attribute it to sounding too close to the Hall and Oates original. I get where they are coming from.

-OK, we have another Adele performance, this time from Mathai. She takes on one of the livelier numbers from 21 – “Rumour Has It,” and she scores turns from Adam, Blake and Cee Lo. Adam gave it up 8 seconds in, before she turned on the power. To Mathai’s credit, she really conveyed both the righteous defiance and the playful vengeance in the song and nailed most of the runs too! You go, player!

And now a summary of tonight’s winners, in the order they were announced:
-Silky smooth R&B karaoke
-Lots of power, crummy music
-Hippie Dia Frampton
-Xenia Mk II, Now With More Lana Del Rey
-Rock Opera Man
-All Treble Gospel
-A Guitar Guy I Don’t Want To Yell At?
-Engaging Adult Contemporary
-Tell Me More About Piano Country….
-R&B Cannon Fodder With Good Music Taste
-Country Cannon Fodder
-Acoustic Cannon Fodder
-Pop Rock Cannon Fodder
-Fun Adele Impersonation!

And we have one more audition round to see 9 more picks! I can’t wait for this round to be over!

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Thoughts on The Voice: Audition Round 1

February 6, 2012

Image from yi on Flickr, used under Creative Commons license

When The Voice premiered last April, I did not expect it to become a sensation since:
-It was on NBC, which has been a 4th place network for awhile and
-It was a music competition show when multiple other music competition shows were on, including America’s Got Talent, Platinum Hit, and the 800 lb gorilla that is American Idol (which I will be covering once it announces its top 24.)

However, The Voice quickly differentiated itself. It had gimmicks that were interesting or weird including the blind auditions with Bond-villain rotating chairs and duet elimination rounds in a boxing ring. It focused on current music trends more than its competition, to the point where Top 16 contestant Raquel Castro was singing Ke$ha’s “Blow,” complete with backup dancers. It had judges who were somewhat active in making pop music.

Ultimately a competition show is only as good as its contestants, and The Voice delivered. Its top tier contestants were both diverse and competent. Three of its top four singers (Beverly McClellan, Vicci Martinez, and Dia Frampton) were women and the one guy (Javier Colon) was a person of color. Of course he took the whole thing with his somewhat boring acoustic balladeering, but unlike American Idol’s last 4 winners, he seemed at least competent at performing.

Seven months later we’re at the start of a new season. All four coaches are back as is the host. What remains to be seen is whether the show can remain entertaining if the gimmicks are no longer new and whether the contestant slate can remain diverse and interesting or if it will fall into a bland mix of archetypes.

The last point is especially concerning since each coach must pick a team. It’s perfectly logical that since a high-voiced guy with an acoustic guitar won season one, a whole bunch would come out of the woodwork and each coach would want to have one on his or her roster.

Let’s get to it….

-With success comes a longer show run, so each coach gets 12 contestants instead of 8. Uh oh. I hope I don’t get tired of the show like I get with Idol. On the plus side, maybe the good contestants will get more time to really benefit from the coaches’ guidance.

-We’re off to an ominous start with RaeLynn, an aw shucks farm girl Lauren Alaina clone. She’s also singing a song by the spouse of a coach. As far as song choice goes, “Hell On Heels” is way more fun than “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing.” It’s a pity that Rae never learned to sing from her gut. She’s burned her throat out crashing that song and still got 2 chair turns. At least Blake Shelton had a sense of humor about the whole thing. Let’s just hope he doesn’t make RaeLynn this season’s Xenia – an underachieving teen who gets by on misguided patronage.

-Jesse Campbell does some high-voice plinky plinky piano ballad thing and within 3 notes he gets 3 chair turns. For once I agree with Blake in taking things slowly. Vocal-wise this contestant was soaring, but, eh, I was underwhelmed with his music choice. Hopefully Christina Aguilera can turn him into someone fun.

-During the weaker auditions, the entertainment becomes watching the coaches squirm and grimace like they have to go to the bathroom. Hold it in, Adam!

-Juliet Sims bleated like a sheep, but it was enough to turn two chairs. Adam called her voice gruff. She has some potential, but it may take some guidance to bring it out. Christina kept on interrupting Adam’s pitch by calling him a used car salesman with little feet. It was pretty funny. When Juliet went with Cee Lo Green, Adam gave her a look that said “I’ll have you killed.” It was pretty funny.

-Chris Mann’s audition was very impressive, going with the deeper operatic style, but I wonder how it will translate to the pop-oriented Voice. Once again I agreed with Blake’s hesitance. This is not a good sign. However, when Christina turned her chair it made sense. She totally sang that kind of heavy slow song in the late 90s – the kind that ended up in the credits to Disney animated movies. Too bad they make those anymore, Chris. Also, there can be only one Josh Groban.

-Tony Lucca: OK story, but I take one look at him and…bleh. I was tired of acoustic guitar guys like this on Idol. But sound wise he’s like Javier, and the arms race is on…. Oh well, at least by not mentioning their past, Christina may have tipped us off that the coaches aren’t fed contestant story info ahead of time, so they aren’t influenced by sob stories or other non-musical factors. It’s still cool that someone fed her the info afterward so they got to have a little moment afterward.

So to summarize the first round of contestants:
-Lauren Alaina MK II
-The first move in the Javier Colon clone wars (Co-lone Wars?)
-Bleaty bleat bleat
-You’re not Josh Groban
-Another acoustic guitar-playing white guy or a Mickey Mouse Club alum out for blood?

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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