Posts Tagged ‘Justin Bieber’

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Thoughts on The Voice: Season 2 Finale

May 8, 2012

Image edited from the original by Bill McIntyre via Flickr, used under Creative Commons

…And here we are. It took three months and a drawn out season to get here (hey, success will do that,) but we made it! Last night each of the contestants delivered at least one blammo rendition along with two sleepers and/or mehs. While I ranked Jermaine at the top of the heap, it wasn’t an enthusiastic pick. For last season’s results show, we got 4 performances, one montage, one results ramp-up, and then the coronation. I praised the show for its brevity. Clearly I was in the minority.

Musical Performances

1. Jermaine Paul ft. Jamar Rogers, James Massone, and Pip – “I Want You Back” James’s tenor is just a tad lower than 8 year old MJ’s alto, but he lacks the delivery of the young King of Pop. Pip sounds like a cloying lounge singer. He could take a lesson from Michael Buble in how to be chill. Jamar sings with conviction, but he still sounds WAY TOO SERIOUS. All Jermaine had to do was sing straight up. After a rough start, he delivered on his ability and threw in a few neat scat runs at the end.

2. Flo Rida and Juliet Simms – “Whistle/Wild Ones” Yeesh. That midtempo “Whistle” song sounded like a rip-off of B.O.B.’s “Nothing On You.” Luckily Flo pulled the plug on that trick real quick before starting into “Wild Ones.” Juliet sang Sia’s part on the hook and managed to sound less grating than the original. Unfortunately that was all she had to do. Flo Rida was leaping all over the stage, working the crowd and showing a general enthusiasm that covered any hint of a prerecorded vocal track. Poor Juliet was left with little to do. Couldn’t she have had a verse or an extended hook? As much as I complain, I still thought this was fun.

3. Chris Mann ft. Lindsey Pavao and Katrina Parker – “Bittersweet Symphony” Dammit, Chris! Don’t do the hand wave thing to this song. It’s tonally inappropriate and it makes you look like you’re trying too hard. The people he beat out? Lindsey did some cool vocal shifts halfway into the song that matched the emotion. It reminded me of why she was an appealing performer early on. Meanwhile Katrina was a straight-up better singer. Her naturally poised and understated singing style worked really well for the song’s mix of posh instrumentation and working class fatalism. Chris had the stage presence of a drunk, whiny college student.

4. Hall & Oates, Chris Mann, Jermaine Paul, and Tony Lucca – “Rich Girl” The three male finalists are relegated to backup singers for a song that Adam pulled away from making his team members sing. I don’t know the song, but it sounds pleasant albeit bland. Daryl Hall sang pretty well for a guy who’s been performing since the early 70s. John Oates came off the best with his solid background presence and neato guitar solos.

5. Naia Kete, Kim Yarbrough, Cheesa, and Sera Hill – “Superstition” Kim executed well enough, but I failed to see any enthusiasm. Cheesa had the power belting down pat, but she took awhile to really rock the cool. Rootsy Naia knocked out her part really well and demonstrated that she had versatility. Her coach just stuck her with a bad song. Sera came off the best in her singing and stage moves. She looked really happy to be back onstage and was really getting down! None of these contestants were in the running but the delivered the best performance of the first half of the night.

6. Juliet Simms ft. Erin Willett, RaeLynn, and Jamar Rogers – “With A Little Help From My Friends” Jamar and Erin did R&B runs like nobody’s business. With her soulfully raspy drawl, Juliet had the classic rock angle covered. That left poor RaeLynn with her aggressive twang and overenunciation on every note. She did have a moment with her growl, but Juliet quickly upstaged her. That’s what experience can do.

7. Lady Antebellum – “Wanted You More” I’m still not a fan of the band name. The song itself sounded decent enough. The dual lead singers harmonized pretty well together and played off each other like method actors overdoing it. The individual parts sounded ok as well. I bet a lot of people were digging this performance, but I wasn’t one of them. That’s not the band’s fault. It’s just not my thing.

8. Tony Lucca ft. Jordis Unga – “Go Your Own Way” Oh snap! The TV vets duet! The song started with a descent down a pair of long staircases, which must have been a lot harder for Jordis in those heels. Still, she kept up with Tony and proved to be a solid harmonizer with him. Tony had some fabulous runs in the song, and quite frankly I wish he did sing this earlier in the competition as it might have won me over to his cause. I wish Jordis got more mic time, but it’s not like Lindsey Buckingham let Stevie Nicks have a lot of mic time on the original.

9. Justin Bieber – “Boyfriend” Yeah, the Biebs has the old Justin Timberlake style down pretty well. He straddles that line between hard hip-hop swagger and teen heartthrob tenor without coming off like a total poser (even though he’s from Stratford, Ontario.) The dancer-heavy choreography was in keeping with the teen pop traditions as well. I thought the song was catchy. I mean, it’s not as though JT is around to watch the throne as he’s too busy with acting. Maybe Justin Bieber wants it more.

An Aside
I’m not normally one for network synergy, but NBC has some of the best comedy on network TV, so the Parks and Rec and SNL crossovers were actually kind of funny. First, I loved that Parks and Rec skit. I wouldn’t mind if Nick Offerman replaced Blake in the coach’s chair and mentored contestants as his Ron Swanson character. On the SNL tip, I thought Keenan Thompson’s Cee-Lo impression on the “Voice: Animals” skit was a little weak but I liked his line that Cee-Lo “looked like a villain in a James Bond movie directed by Tyler Perry.”

Much talking and stalling commences, before the show reveals its vote ranking.
4th place: Chris Mann
3rd place: Tony Lucca
2nd place: Juliet Simms
1st place: Jermaine Paul

The Winner
Yay! Jermaine Paul, the most consistently good performer this season, takes the prize! While I was tempted from time to time to dismiss him as a Javier Colon Clone, he was way the hell more intense! He had one, maybe two flubs for his entire run and he knew how to have fun. That performance acumen and sheer talent made him fun to root for, even if he was on Blake Shelton’s team. Plus those little bear growls he was doing when he was hugging his family was endearing. I’d like to think I’d be doing the same thing if I won the show. Seriously, congrats to Jermaine. I hope that he has a successful career of making fun music.

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Thoughts on The Voice Top 16: Team Blake vs. Team Xtina Voting Results

April 17, 2012

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

We had quite the shocker on Monday’s Voice. Now that wholesome, safe Jesse Campbell’s out of the game, it feels like anyone can take home the prize. Oh and by anyone I mean it’ll probably be Jamar winning the finals. That’s not who I’m necessarily rooting for, it’s just my prediction. Let’s get to the results….

Here are the guest musical performance and video….
– The Wanted – “Chasing The Sun” Boy bands are back! At least they’re performing a different song from their time on Idol. It’s a catchy tune, though Kathy correctly noted that something was a little offbeat in their phrasing, like an O-Zone song. “Mai Ya hee,” and such. The end appearance by Team Blake was a non-factor.

– Justin Bieber – “Boyfriend (Premiere of the Clip)” This little 20-second video clip was a little bit Timbaland, a little bit the Ying Yang Twins (it was actually a Mike Posner production.) Seriously, I thought the Biebs was going to open with “Hey how ya doin’ lil’ mama let me whisper in ya ear…,” which would have been quite the turn for the guy.

Now for the vetted teams….

Team Xtina
1. Chris Mann: Mr. Mann finally started to engage the audience and was rightly rewarded for it. Remember that opera is both acting and singing, so keep on acting, bro.

2. Lindsey Pavao (Xtina save): Her voice is barely louder than Karla Davis’s. I hate to say this, but based on her desperation song she should stick to the sparse material so as not to let her delicate flower of a voice get crushed by the sound. However, if she plays to her strengths she might be boring as hell.

Team Blake
1. Jermaine Paul: He took an overdone dirge and turned it into a fairly star-worthy performance. Once again solid effort is rewarded by the voting audience!

2. Erin Willett (Blake save): Her desperation song was an improvement from last night, but she may have been too casual and couldn’t keep up with the backing track. Find that balance between casual confidence and serious professionalism, Erin! Also, I’m happy we don’t have a repeat of Blake’s misguided teen patronage of last season.

The Losers
– Ashley De La Rosa: Ashley shows proper talent but she took forever to get going in her performances. It kind of shows up her relative inexperience. Still, I like what she brought to the show and feel like she can do some good stuff in the future.

– RaeLynn: Well Rae was finally starting to take shit seriously this week, so the Xenia comparisons might not be as apt as they were before, but her desperation song was purely pageant and that’s just no good. See ya!

Interesting how the two youngest contestants on Blake and Xtina’s teams got the boot tonight, no? Do you see a difference from last season, Voice fans?

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Thoughts On American Idol: Top 13 Men

February 28, 2012

Image edited from original by Maks Karochkin on Flickr, used under Creative Commons

It’s time to get venomous and vindictive on a show I love to hate. This is American Idol!

Notes: We’re off to a good start – the judges aren’t dressed like shit! I have nothing mean to say about any of their looks.

Theme: Contestants can pick any song.

Here are the Top 13 male performers in order of appearance on the show.

1. Reed Grimm – “Moves Like Jagger” Reed opens with some generous eye fucking of the camera on this gratuitous lounge lizard rendition of a song made famous by the coaches on that other show. Reed’s performance had tons of cheese, scatting, bad dancing, and a drum solo on a stand-up kit like he’s in The Stray Cats. However, it was still kind of fun. His singing was totally in his range and he gave the performance a full commitment. Seriously there was zero irony there. Props for kicking things off with something different and sounding good, dude!

2. Adam Brock – “Think” OK, nobody can be Aretha, but Adam had a good run on this song. For the most part he stuck to his range and didn’t oversing too much. He stuck the big notes and seemed to really show a solid mix of self-assurance and empowerment, which you need for a song like this. It was a somewhat rough start for him, but I could see myself rooting for this guy in spite of his Steelers fandom. Please don’t be Danny Gokey Part 2.

3. Deandre Brackensick – “Reasons” …Aaaaannnnddd things grind to a halt on this EWF ballad. This actually could have been cool if Deandre had used his full range instead of staying flat in his falsetto. The high notes only work if there is successful mid and low-range singing. He sounded clunky for most of the song, and gained his composure for the big finish. If he stays after this week, he needs to work his vocal control, lest he blow his voice out on a Bee Gees song.

4. Colton Dixon – “Decode” This spot belonged to your sister, you freeloading chotch! It’s tearing your family apart. See if she gives you a kidney when you need it. Now to the song. Colton tries to go for the high power singing over the nu metal power chords, but he’s out of his league. There was no genuine emotion. Whether it was on the belting or the piano mount, he couldn’t touch a lesser alum like James Durbin, let alone a killer like Adam Lambert. That was painful to watch. And that haircut looks like shit. It makes the mullet look classy. Fuck off, you skunky charlatan!

5. Jeremy Rosado – “Gravity” This guy seemed like a nonentity in Hollywood and Las Vegas. Jeremy goes for restrained and understated, which is admirable on an intimate song like this. The orchestral arrangement kind of buried him in the mix, which is a shame since he seemed like he had a grasp of the emotional component of the material. Of course he had to have the big cathartic finish, which felt messy, but it’s one meh spot on an otherwise decent performance. Frankly I was a little bored with the song choice, but I respect what he did. Just don’t do it too much.

6. Aaron Marcellus – “Never Can Say Goodbye” Once again I’m not so ok with jumping to the Motown catalog so early in the show, but that aside this was pretty good. Aaron showed good vocal control throughout the performance and he was just upbeat enough to convey coolness without overdoing it. I love that cool professionalism, especially when there’s some boppin’ within. And that super high ending? I think Aaron just took Deandre to school.

7. Chase Likens – “Storm Warning” Unlike last year’s country boy who shall not be named, Chase displays his solid tenor with ease. Like Aaron, he showed good command of a stage and some personal investment in the song. Way to use those theater chops, dude! When he was smiling it conveyed fun, not playing around. He blew a lot of the big notes at the end, but he might tighten up if he sticks around. I don’t listen to country music much, but I’m not sad by this performance.

8. Creighton Fraker – “True Colors” It’s tough for me to root for this guy because I don’t like his face. He makes things worse by singing “True Colors.” Look dude, if the Glee cast couldn’t make this sappy claptrap interesting, you shouldn’t try. That performance felt empty and forced like so much inspiration bait. His singing was halfway decent, but it was quickly overshadowed by the rest of the bleaty shitshow. Get off my TV.

9. Phillip Phillips – “In The Air Tonight” A low-key white guy with an acoustic guitar? Ladies and gentleman, your season 11 American Idol winner! Demographic predictability aside, this was a good song for Phil to do. I give him props for doing an alternative take and he did a good job singing, but the arrangement just sucked. It was grungy and hoary, and the song is supposed to be quiet and resigned. The matter-of-fact dread and self-hatred in the piece comes from the emotion and the minimal instrumentation. There was a little too much naked anger and bad sax playing. Show me “haunting,” you demographic bait!

10. Eben Franckewitz – “Set Fire To The Rain” I should be down on this Lil’ Justin Bieber, but he seems too nice and self-deprecating for me to root against him on principle. However, I will root against him for this underwhelming karaoke car wreck of a performance. The song choice did him in. He’s singing notes he can’t yet hit for emotions he hasn’t felt yet. He’s a small child and there’s a good chance he’ll develop both vocally and emotionally. One day Eben’s power might rival Adele’s, but it is not this day. Sidenote: notice the judges trying their best not to sound critical of this probable chosen one. Remember when people made fun of Paula Abdul for being too nice to the bad contestants? Now it’s like that for all three judges most of the time. But I digress.

11. Heejun Han – “Angels” I’m disappointed that Heejun picked another slow ballad, since they seem like such a departure from his offstage persona. I’m not familiar with the Robbie Williams original, but Kathy says that Heejun’s version just wasn’t as good. He just couldn’t make those big vocal moments count. Ballads like this tend fraught with emotion and vocal acrobatics. I felt some of the emotion and conviction in Heejun’s delivery, but his vocals just didn’t match. Kathy played the original for me, and yeah, it’s better. Robbie Williams’s soaring highs on the chorus were damn impressive, so I can understand her disappointment with Heejun for failing to deliver the same.

12. Josh Ledet – “You Pulled Me Through” Josh is taking on Jennifer Hudson and he’s throwing everything but the kitchen sink at this song. It’s a good demonstration of his raw vocal power, but there were a lot of times where the big oversingy moments felt unearned at best and screechy at worst. He can’t handle the power yet. This plodding yet overindulgent performance style can lead me to only one conclusion: Josh Ledet is Jacob Lusk without the sibilant “s.” ZZZZZZZZZ………..

HERE COMES A NEW CHALLENGER!

13. Jermaine Jones – “Dance With My Father” Wow! They brought the talented bass singer back! I did not see that coming. I thought he came off as pretty good in the Las Vegas round. The producers actually made a good decision! This sentimental grinder made famous by Luther Vandross isn’t my favorite song, but Jermaine sure makes good work of it though! He had great conviction in his singing and in how he came across onstage. There was tender emotion and some fabulous low note holds. Way to do us low-voiced guys proud, Jermaine!

And what would I have sung? I’ll admit that I’m not a very good singer overall. My voice tends to be in the lower range and I love to perform slightly alternative, uptempo songs in karaoke and Rock Band. The focus in this fairly open round is to make a good impression on the audience, many of whom are turning in for the first time. I suppose I would kick things off with one of my karaoke staples – “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie. It’s one of his better-known songs and when I’m warmed up I can stay in my vocal comfort zone and still pull off some the song’s builds and held notes. If was lucky I’d come across like Taylor Hicks.

My Top 3 Performers
1. Aaron Marcellus
2. Jermaine Jones
3. Reed Grimm

My Bottom 3 Performers
1. Colton Dixon
2. Creighton Fraker
3. Eben Franckewitz

Tune in tomorrow when the women take the stage!

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Internet Roundup

March 28, 2011

Popdust has a rundown of the Juno awards, which is the big music awards show in Canada. Drake was the host! Arcade Fire took home several of the big awards, including Album Of The Year, but lost the Artist Of The Year award to Neil Young. Justin Bieber won the Fan Choice award. Deadmau5 lost the Electronic Album Of The Year award to Caribou, but took home the Dance Recording Of The Year.

Meanwhile Hard Candy has posted a new DJ mix by Aeroplane. I don’t normally care for that “Balearic Beat,” but Aeroplane’s remixes of Chromeo’s “Don’t Turn The Lights On” and The Human League’s “Never Let Me Go” were pretty damn catchy. The 12-track mix features songs and remixes from French House vets Etienne De Crecy and Alex Gopher, up and coming power diva Clare Maguire, and remix band The Swiss (who are actually from Australia).

Finally in serious matters, I managed to track down an old essay by ESPN columnist and native Detroiter LZ Granderson. Granderson wrote the article in October 2009; about seven months after Chris Brown violently beat Rihanna. Ryan O’Connell expressed a similar sentiment in a piece on Thought Catalog written a few days ago. Read both articles back to back and see how much has changed in 2 years (answer: not a whole lot). Brown is still very violent and never really did any time for domestic assault and yet there’s still a big media push to “welcome him back.”

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Thoughts on American Idol: Audition Week 1, Part 2

January 21, 2011

Original Image From Wikipedia

Note: I am not a fan of the audition rounds on American Idol. I find the pace too fast, the montages inane, and the freakshows not that funny. Then again, I concede the audition rounds are the favorite parts of the show for a lot of people, specifically for the unintentional comedy. I try to keep up with the many contestants, but often it isn’t until the top 24 where I really feel like I can start picking favorites and diving into the contestants’ onstage personalities.

  • The judges’ intro: aaaaaannnnnnddddd Steven Tyler is still acting like a douchebag.
  • It wouldn’t be a New Orleans audition without Seacrest forced into some “Ah gay-ron-tee” patois.
  • This musician Jordan could have potential. He rocks the keyboard and I liked his interaction with his 6 year old student. To top it off, his double-time audition had some pop to it. That said, “Over The Rainbow” is another one of those audition songs that I feel like 1000 or so people trot out and I roll my eyes when someone sings it.
  • During Sarah’s audition, on the subject of her lips: “Steven, are you part of her family?” You know Randy, Steven Tyler has been touring a lot since the late 70s. Aside from that, I really liked her fashion sense and her smoky voice.
  • I was really feeling Jovany’s singing (and his suit!). I can’t remember the last contestant to come audition singing en Español. I hope he makes the top 12 and does more of this.
  • I hope Dave, the 16 year old with the big red hair and beard makes it through. His big hair and high voice remind me of Claudio Sanchez from Coheed and Cambria and that would be cool to see on TV. He did crack his voice a few times during his audition, and hopefully he will get over that soon lest I lose patience with him like I lost patience with Sanjaya Malakar.
  • Oh man, Gabriel: With his 70s haircut, striped shirt, acoustic guitar, and shit-eating grin, I want to punch this guy before he plays a note. Then he starts singing “Bad Romance,” and he hit a lot of the notes. The man sounded great! It was like Adam Lambert went all astral projection and took over Lee DeWyze’s body. It’s a pity the judges blocked him on song choice, because he performance style was a total surprise – down home on the outside, glam on the inside. I would have followed that.
  • I know the K-Fed lookalike was shown during the horror show reel and that guy was just a trainwreck, but seriously, I would like to see rappers audition and make it through the show. They have country weeks on the show, it’s only fair.
  • Idol Camp?
  • So when Randy started telling off an off-key contestant, he began to use many of the same Cowellisms, especially “Really, it was awful, really.” He is really taking charge of that top spot.
  • 15 year old Jacee sang in this high, “balls haven’t quite dropped” voice that made me want to yell at the judges – “Make him sing ‘Baby’!” Could he be the American Bieber that the show’s producers were dreaming of when they lowered the minimum age to 15?
  • Since this was only an hour-long episode, there weren’t too many contestants that horrified or annoyed me. I feel like most of the contestants they let through were at least mildly interesting or entertaining. Good episode.