Posts Tagged ‘Shields Brothers’

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Thoughts on The Voice: Battle Rounds Part 3

March 19, 2012

Image from [auro] via Flickr, used under Creative Commons

Welcome Voice fans! We’re halfway through this round of the battles and I’ve been pleased with about half of the outcomes. Let’s see how this next group shakes out!

Extra Mentors:
Team Adam: Alanis Morissette and Robin Thicke
Team Blake: Kelly Clarkson and Miranda Lambert
Team Cee Lo: Babyface and Ne-Yo
Team Xtina: Jewel and Lionel Richie

Team Adam: Pip vs. Nathan Parrett – “You Know I’m No Good”
Oh snap? Not Adele?! This is a nice pick from Adam. Amy Winehouse’s range was low and dynamic enough that these guys will have lots of room to show their chops. The challenge will be to convey the damaged goods narration and not overdo it vocally. A good performance will elicit pathos through solid singing. Based on blind audition screentime, Pip will eke out a win. Nathan got maybe 2 seconds in his audition, so the audience isn’t likely as invested. Neither am I.
Pip pulls out the Broadway oversinging way too early in the song. He showing off in his belting and arm flailing. It’s inappropriate and clashes with the tone of the music. It’s incongruent enough that I actually end up rooting for Nathan by the end of the song (also the Andre 3000 ensemble isn’t doing Pip any favors.) He didn’t show off too much. If anything did him in, it was his hesitation before some of the big horn swells and his willingness to take on Pip directly in the belt-off at the end. Nonetheless Nathan sang solidly and seemed to better understand the song. In Glee terms, Pip is Rachel. Nathan is Santana. We all know who sang Winehouse better on that show.
Winner: Pip (Boo! Pip’s a great singer but he was not invested in this song. Nathan tried way harder and delivered the goods.)

Team Cee Lo: Erin Martin vs. The Shields Brothers – “What’s Love Got To Do With It”
This will be a crazy battle. The Shields boys are your basic pop-rock duo whereas Erin is super crazy and raspy. Neither has the pure vocal chops to directly take on Ms. Turner. Erin will have to project and the brothers will have to sing decently while not relying on each other to be the chorus. I predict an Erin win, as she seems like she has a little more vocal control and TV-friendly image. If the boys make it through, they’ll get eaten alive in the voting rounds.
Since neither performer can rise to the occasion of the Tina Turner original, the arrangement tries to split the sound to match both Erin’s twee quirkiness and the Shields’ meatheaded rockism. So half of the song is “Hey There Delilah” and half is “Don’t Know What You Got Till It’s Gone,” and not in a clever mash-up way. Neither side can deliver vocally. Even their stage presence was like three drunk theater kids jostling for the mic at a karaoke bar. I think the blame for this shitshow lies at the feet of The Lady Killer. Also, cut the leering come-ons, Blake Shelton. That’s unprofessional! Sigh….
Winner: Erin (Meh! If that was a battle, Cee Lo Green should be tried for war crimes.)

Team Xtina: Ashley De La Rosa vs. Jonathas – “No Air”
This will be a tough battle! Both contestants had fabulous auditions, though Ashley’s was a little bit on the cannon fodder side. I’m not a fan of this song, though that’s maybe because Chris Brown performs on the original. I predict a Jonathas win based on his R&B chops and relatively higher screentime.
Early on Ashley is off key and anemic. Jonathas can’t quite sing on the off-beat rhythm and it’s jarring. He definitely has more stage presence and charisma, but when it gets time to go high-volume, Ashley kicks things into high gear. By the end of the song, it was clear that she was the better singer. I think Jonathas was more believable onstage, but I think Ashley has more long-term potential. Props to both of them for trying to play off each other.
Winner: Ashley (Yay! She certainly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and from one of the show’s probably chosen ones. Keep it up!)

Team Blake: Alyx vs. Jermaine Paul – “Get Out Of My Dreams, Get Into My Car”
….And we get the first fun song of the night, and it’s 80s cheese to boot! I predict a Jermaine win. He has the professional power and the Alicia Keys patronage. Plus Blake already picked one green teen for his team with RaeLynn (and she’s way more country than Alyx.) Who can belt? Who can convey effortless charisma? Who can make the performance feel more fun than Rock Band night at Jon Hamm’s house?
This is no contest. When Jermaine’s not doing nice little runs all over the place he’s doing subtle, popping dance moves and working the crowd. I appreciated his efforts! Plus he made Alyx look stiff, unpleasant, and way too serious about the whole proceeding – precisely the opposite of what I wanted to hear and see.
Winner: Jermaine (Yay! I appreciated his efforts to get the audience invested in the cheese! He also sang really, really well!)

Team Adam: Angel Taylor vs. Katrina Parker – “Bleeding Love”
Dammit Adam, this song is Ryan Tedder-penned midtempo claptrap! This is gonna be sad! That’s my bias though and it’s not the contestants’ fault. The challenge here will be to engage the audience without resorting to blunt vocal exercises or excessive whininess. I predict an Angel win, especially after Sera Hill’s win for Team Xtina. Adam will need an answer for a singer like that, even with Katrina’s TV-friendly second-chance backstory.
It’s clear that Katrina has more range than Angel. The tone of her voice takes up more of the empty space in the song and her parts feel riches as a result. I feel that Angel is trying harder to emotionally connect with the somber, grisly lyrics of the material, though her stiff stage presence may have been a little too much. If Katrina could improve on anything, it would be to take on a little more emotion and not come across so pageanty.
Winner: Katrina (Yay! She was so much more pleasant to listen to! She fought off an opponent skilled in the emoting trade and came out stonger.)

Team Blake: Gwen Sebastian vs. Erin Willett – “We Belong”
Wow, I think Blake made the best song picks tonight! I’m certainly shocked. Gwen is certainly more in Blake’s comfort zone, though Erin’s no slouch and her sad backstory may also help her cause. I predict an Erin win. Based on our Rock Band sessions, I think Kathy does a great Pat Benatar rendition. According to her, the keys to a good Benatar performance are to project on key with just a little attitude on the verses and fearless belting on the chorus. Her best songs are unpretentious, but they still demand that you sell them. They’re not ballads, but they demand vocal power! Let’s close this out!
This was some of the best harmonizing I heard all night. Gwen and Erin actually tried to play off each other and work together rather than dominate or oversing each other. The solo parts came in the quieter verses and both did a good job with those, too! Predictable Gwen was twangier and Erin was more soulful, but the end results are still solid. It’s ultimately a matter of taste.
Winner: Erin (Yay! While I was rooting for her, either singer would have been a good choice. Sob story or not, Erin has the pipes to show she deserves to be here.)

This was an entertaining episode! I was annoyed or disappointed with the first 1/3rd of the show, but then things really recovered. I expect to have a solid stable of contestants to root for in the voting rounds. Other than the first two picks turning out differently, the only other way this could have been better would be to replace Carson Daly with Mark Dacascos as the host of the show. He would make these battle rounds so much more theatrical!

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Thoughts on The Voice: Audition Round 5

February 27, 2012

Image from &y at Flickr, used under Creative Commons

Alright people, I think the coaches have fewer than 10 picks to make, so hopefully they can wrap this up and we can get to the much more fun and very probably rigged battle rounds.

Contestants’ Notes

-Whitney Myer is giving off that Nikka Costa vibe, and it’s not because of just her curly red hair. It’s also that light, uptempo, janky R&B. She’s doing “No One,” which I think was originally by Alicia Keyes, and I quite light this bouncy rendition. She earns turns from all four coaches. Whitney goes with Adam, whose experience fusing pop-rock and R&B might help develop her overall brand with minimal genre clash. What a good start to the show!

-David Boreanaz lookalike David Dunn goes the lite-rock route on “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved.” When I heard the first few notes of this song, I thought this was going to be another jerk with an acoustic guitar, but I saw him with just a mic, which was a relief. David tried to make the bleh song lively with some walking around the stage, but he just didn’t have the emotion or charisma in his voice (and he just blew that falsetto section.) No turns for you!

-The Shields Brothers seem like some kind of rock n roll Coreys. At least their dual-tenor duet of “Dancing With Myself” is different than the usual schtick duo acts pull. Nonetheless, they have the same problem most of the duos on this show have – neither one of them is a very good singer individually. They skate by on their uptempo style and their harmonizing. They end up on Team Cee Lo.

-I must compliment Cheesa for taking on Beyonce, especially on the midtempo clunker “If I Were A Boy.” She starts off sounding way, way, way too low for her range at the start, but she pulls out the stops for the big, soaring chorus and knocks out most of the notes. I didn’t care for the performance because it felt like so much oversinging. Still, I respect her vocal prowess and she definitely has the charisma worthy of a Beyonce song. She gets a turn from Cee Lo.

-I think Preston Shannon could have used a sparser arrangement for “In The Midnight Hour.” singing was rough and solid, but it couldn’t quite stand out against the big, clean arrangement of the house band. While Preston seems to come from a blues background, he kept the soloing to the beginning and end. He was good on the axe, but it’s called The Voice, not The Guitarist. It’s too bad, and I hope this guy finds a good avenue for his art.

-OK, so the alliterative Lex Land lands two turns (Adam and Cee Lo) within the first 8 notes of the song, but damn she is undersinging the hell out “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” I heard serious mush mouth problems in her singing and the dulcet, plinky music didn’t help al all. Maybe if she did something with more menace and smokiness (Portishead, Goldfrapp, early-2000s Moby, etc.) she would have come across better. Then again I just want trip-hop to make a comeback. Eh, maybe Blake can help bring out her inner torch singer.

-Cameron Novack starts out strong, doing a weird Savage Garden-esque soft sell of Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know.” Then he gets bogged down in the flow of the build up to the chorus (back off the freestyling, dude.) He then shifts to oversinging the chorus. Overall Cameron’s performance wasn’t too bad, but his abrupt shift in delivery style for each part of the song might have been too jarring. If he stuck to the restrained pop style or even charged in with aggressive oversinging I feel like he could have done better. Also, letting the coaches “cheat” and pick him after the turn would have set the worst precedent for the show, because then every hot contestant who walked up onstage would have a second shot, and that would be shitteous!

-At the start, Orlando Napier comes across as a low-key guy with a piano (which is still better than an acoustic guitar.) He got away from that once he got up from the piano, but he failed to win me over. The John Mayer song choice and Randy Newman singing style was a bad combination. Also…ENUNCIATE! Adam picks him has his final team member.

-Lee Koch has guts for taking on Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” which karaoke connoisseur Brian Rafferty called one of the worst songs to sing since the verses are so rambling and weird against the familiar chorus. Lee is trying his best with the material and doesn’t flub any of the lines, but he just could not hit those “how does it FEEL” lines in the chorus. He earned a turn from Christina through his harmonica playing, which in my opinion is a bad sign. I don’t like when competitive singers use instruments as crutches. It feels like cheating. I predict that he’ll get eaten alive in the battle rounds.

-WADE (is the all-capitalization really necessary?) tries something kind of cool with a warm Stax-ed out soul rendition of “Rehab.” Vocally WADE (and that’s the last time I’m all-caps-ing that) has bursts of greatness, especially in the verses, though he hit some rough spots in the other parts. He just needs a little practice. Otherwise he’s a good combination of traditionalism and risk-taking. Cee Lo should be able to work his voice out, as Wade becomes his concluding pick.

-Adley Stump takes on Carrie Underwood’s “Last Name” (uh-oh) and it’s a bit of a wreck. She wasn’t bad, just mediocre. You could walk into any karaoke bar, and someone singing that song would sound just as good. Frankly the performance felt like so much mediocre singing except for those few belts (which I concede gave me chills.) She really couldn’t sustain her run and stick the landing. Predictably, she heads for Team Blake, and I think he’ll have more faith in her. Maybe he’ll coach her on fashion as well (go-go boots, star bandana, and Victoria Jackson hair?) She is the last pick of Team Blake.

We get a brief montage of failed singers (the Beta lady who sang Jason DeRulo sounded kind of interesting to me.) Also, Danny Devito sings “Three Times A Lady” during a Lorax crossover commercial skit. I was just wishing he’d sing “Troll Toll” from The Nightman Cometh. Then….

-Sera Hill pulls out every trick in the traditional R&B singer book – up and down runs, extended holds, power belting – and she kills every one. I thought her song choice was super slow and boring (and way too Idol) but damn she was good! She was a pro doing her thing, and that’s just wonderful. She becomes the final pick of the show as the last contestant to join team Xtina.

And now a summary of tonight’s winners, in the order they were announced:
-Mark Ronson should pay attention
-“I can’t tell Corey Feldman from Corey Haim.
-Charisma without the power
-Will Beth Gibbons come on as a mentor?
-Bad meets icky
-Karaoke cannon fodder
-Tradition meets risk
-A lot of people could do that
-She could have a good run on Idol

And there we have it! We have our Top (shudder) 48! Tune in next week for the theatrical battle rounds and tune in tomorrow for the start of my recapping of American Idol’s Live Top 25 rounds. SO MUCH SINGING!!!