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“The Voice”: Let The Games Begin

After several weeks of blind audition shows, battle rounds on The Voice finally began on Monday night…and they didn’t disappoint. For those of you unfamiliar with the structure of this show, each team has twelve members after blind auditions. The coaches then create six one-on-one battles, for which they also choose the song and celebrity mentor to help train the contestants. The contestants sing the song as a duet, with the coach choosing the winner immediately afterwards.

It’s always interesting to see how the judges match up their battle pairings. More often than not, they’ll choose two artists with very similar styles in order to make their final set of six as strong and diverse as possible. Other times, though, it kind of seems like they just picked names out of a hat. On Monday night, we saw a little of both… Continue reading ‘“The Voice”: Let The Games Begin’

“The Voice”: The Ones That Got Away

Last night, we saw the fifth and final installment of blind auditions on The Voice. As always, we met a wide array of performers, from blues artists to belting divas to that one dude who sang opera and beatboxed (more on that, later). With the audition segment of the season coming to a close, it only seemed appropriate to pay tribute to a few who got away…

Adorable, down-to-earth OurStage artist David Dunn, a self-proclaimed “black sheep of the family,” channeled his inner-Script on stage in round 5. The girls in the audience seemed to squeal with delight at this soulful pop singer, but none of the judges were wowed enough to press that darn button. Hey David, we’ll watch you sing any time!

Armed with a guitar and a set of experienced pipes, sixty-four-year-old Memphis native Preston Shannon, a.k.a. The King of Beale Street, brought the house down with his bluesy performance. Preston’s rustic tone had all of the judges nodding their heads with approval, but unfortunately, none of them made the move to claim him for their team. We could definitely see why they call him “The King!”

Finally, Cameron “Novackaine” Novack made us all scratch our heads when he busted out opera and rap within ten seconds of his introduction. Novack was incredibly confident that he was about to be begged to join at least one coach’s team, but his performance of “You Oughta Know” seemed to confuse more than impress. Cee-Lo immediately regretted his decision, though, and even asked if it would be possible to bend the rules, just this once. Ultimately, though, Novack had to shuffle off the stage and move on to the next opera hall…or rap show. Whichever.

Sadly, The Voice is a numbers game. All of the coaches said that they would be much pickier with performances in the final round, since the spots left on their teams were limited. We can’t help but wonder: Would these singers have made it through to the battle rounds if they had gotten to perform earlier in the show? Maybe. All we can do now is hope that America was paying attention, because many of the rejected vocalists on The Voice still represent some of the best undiscovered talent.


“The Voice”: Second Chances

One of the coolest things about The Voice is that it can give contestants a second chance at stardom. While some of these performers have only sung for friends and family, more and more vocalists armed with impressive resumes are coming to The Voice for their chance to really make it big.

Last season, there was Dia Frampton, one half of indie rock sister duo Meg & Dia (we even interviewed her, back in the day!). Their band had been a part of the Vans Warped Tour, was signed to a label and had a loving fan base, but they just couldn’t break into the mainstream. After soaring straight to the No. 2 spot on The Voice, Dia released her first solo album and has recently been on tour with her band, opening for her coach, Blake Shelton. Of course, season one winner Javier Colon had also been around the business; he had previously been signed to Capitol Records for four years, but never caught his big break.

Is "The Voice" a second chance for Charlotte Sometimes?

We’re just a few episodes into this season and we’ve already seen experienced talents like emo-alt rocker Juliet Simms and Alicia Keys’ backup singer Jermaine Paul. Last night’s episode added two more music vets to the mix with Charlotte Sometimes and Tony Vincent. Sometimes was signed to Crush Management at the tender age of sixteen, was featured on VH1 and, like Frampton and Simms, is a Vans Warped Tour alum. As she recounted in her backstory segment, she was diagnosed with a degenerative bone disease that had her battling for her ability to sing for years. Now fully recovered, Sometimes blew all four of the judges away with her take on One Republic’s “Apologize” before committing to Team Blake.

Despite the creepy makeup (ditch the lip gloss, please!), contestant Tony Vincent made quite the impression on The Voice last night when he sang “We Are The Champions.” Though ambitious, the song choice was not at all surprising, as Vincent had just recounted his time in Queen’s musical We Will Rock You. Vincent had also previously performed in Green Day’s American Idiot, Rent and more. Vincent brought down the house and ended up on Team Cee-Lo. We’re definitely excited to see what he does next.

Here’s to hoping the second time’s the charm, guys!


The Voice: Decisions, Decisions

One thing we’ve noticed about this season of The Voice is that both the coaches and the contestants seem to be making strange decisions…and that goes for wardrobe, song choice, eliminations and coach selection. For example: why did Alicia Keys backup singer Jermaine Paul audition with Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated?” And then choose Blake Shelton as a coach? Why would badass rocker Juliet Simms decide to work with a soul king like Cee-Lo? Why does Carson Daly drive a Kia?

Let’s take a look at some of the choices made in last night’s episode.

Perhaps the most shocking moment of the two hour show was when both Cee-Lo and Blake Shelton turned their chairs around for aspiring model Erin Martin, whose rendition of The Plain White T’s’ “Hey There Delilah” was rough, at best. Though her tone is certainly unique, we couldn’t get behind her mumbling annunciation and shaky vibrato. Also, why was she dressed like an extra from Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show? Oh well. She was good enough for two out of four of the coaches…

But what about blue-haired R&B singer Winter Rae, who brought along her BFF Perez Hilton? Though her shaved head and tattoos might say “rock star,” Rae performed a stunning rendition of Rihanna’s “Take A Bow” (only to be snubbed by the judges). It’s moments like this when we have a love/hate relationship with The Voice‘s focus on finding indescribably unique talent. So many solid performers seem to fall through the cracks in favor of those who are “different,” but it doesn’t seem to always be the best decision. We’re certainly hoping to hear more from Ms. Rae in the future.

Another strange decision came from Boston native James Massone. After seeing his video backstory (which even included a bunch of stereotypical Boston phrases, like “go pahk the cah in tha yahd”), we really weren’t sure what to expect. Massone chose to audition with Drake’s “Find Your Love,” an odd decision, given his soulful, pop/R&B voice. Luckily, his performance was a pleasant surprise to coaches and viewers alike.

What did you think of last night’s episode? Whose performance was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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“The Voice” Is Back: Ones To Watch

Last year, the premiere of NBC’s The Voice brought new life to the tired format of reality singing competitions. Unlike American Idol and The X-Factor, contestants on The Voice audition for the show by performing for four judges, all of whom have their backs turned. If the judges like what they hear, they press a red button to turn their chair around, thereby claiming the contestant for their team. If more than one judge turns their chair around, they’ll have to fight for the contestant, who then has the opportunity to pick which coach they’d like to work with. Oh yeah, and instead of industry execs and Simon Cowell, the coaches of The Voice are four of the biggest names in music: pop superstar Christina Aguilera, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, country crooner Blake Shelton and the “Crazy” and colorful Cee-Lo Green. The show has been applauded not only for having a unique format, but also for being extremely accepting of performers from all walks of life, styles and levels of experience.

Last night, The Voice returned for its second season and viewers were not disappointed.  Even the contestants who weren’t chosen by any coaches, like twenty-year-old Daniel Rosa (who performed “Animal” by Neon Trees), were extremely talented. At the end of the night, however, only five performers were selected to compete. Of the group, there is a country singer, an R&B singer, a rock singer, an opera singer and a soul singer, which instantly gets this competition started on a unique note.

Of the five contestants chosen on last night’s episode, two performers truly stood out as early contenders for the win. Jesse Campbell, a formerly homeless single father from Illinois, had all four judges turn their chairs around before he even reached the first chorus of his song. All of them were taken by his flawlessly smooth voice, which is reminiscent to that of season one winner, Javier Colon. When the performance was over, Adam spoke for everyone when he said, “the whole room was on fire.” Though Jesse is an R&B singer, he decided to join Team Christina. We’re sure those two are bound to make a dynamic pair!

The second contestant to watch is twenty-five-year-old rocker Juliet Simms from Clearwater, Florida. Juliet has been a staple in the modern alternative rock scene, performing under the name Automatic Loveletter for several years. Her rendition of The Beatles’ “Oh! Darling” had Adam Levine singing at the top of his lungs, and although Blake didn’t turn his chair around, the other three coaches spent plenty of time fighting over her. In the end, she chose Cee-Lo as her mentor—a surprising move that is sure to have awesome results.

It’s clear that the level of talent is already higher than season one, so the pressure is definitely on. Tune in tonight for another episode of The Voice, starting at 8pm on NBC!

Missed the show? Check out Juliet Simms’ performance of “Oh! Darling” below:

How Did Blake Shelton Become Country Music’s Top Tweeter?

Blake Shelton, the country superstar who officiates as a judge on hit music reality show The Voice and makes up half of country music’s newest power couple, had his most recent record debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart. Now he can add another notch to his belt as country music’s most engaging star… on Twitter. Given his resume and achievements, Shelton is not an unlikely candidate for “Most Followed Country Music Tweeter”—outside of Taylor Swift, of course. But you cannot judge somebody’s Twitter worthiness based on the number of their followers. No, you must also evaluate the content of their tweets.

Part of the description on Shelton’s account reads “You’re getting the real BS straight from Blake himself.” This is not an empty statement: Shelton is one of rare breed of celebrity that actually tweets from their own account as opposed to having a team do it for them. And he tweets a lot; all day, every day. The closest and most unlikely of parallels to Shelton’s Twitter feed is that of rapper cum professional instigator Lil B. Both constantly retweet @mentions, both make outlandish statements to the ire of the easily offended and both just do not give a damn.










This is why Shelton is so refreshing: his tweets are pure id. If someone tweets at Shelton talking shit then Shelton will just throw it right back at them. Any fan appreciation is returned in kind and, most importantly, there is no better troll than Shelton in the country music twittersphere. His specialty is imagined inebrated escapades. If you believed his tweets, then Shelton is shopping with Miranda Lambert drunk, peeing into dresser drawers, propositioning everyone in sight and, well, doing stuff like this. His online reputation is such that the second result in a search for “Blake Shelton Twitter” is the twitter account for Blake Shelton’s Liver.

Continue reading ‘How Did Blake Shelton Become Country Music’s Top Tweeter?’

Your Country’s Right Here: Joey and Rory Invite Fans to a ‘Farmhouse Christmas’

Joey & Rory make no secret that they’re as country as their music.

Although the married couple, Rory Lee Feek and his wife Joey Martin Feek, came to prominence on a reality television show—CMT’s Can You Duet—they are the real deal as far as country life and values are concerned. Not that the two don’t have bona fide music chops, such as Rory’s songwriting credits for a host of hitmakers including Blake Shelton.

“We kind of look at our careers a little differently [than some other artists],” said Joey. “What we do is unique and we’re not afraid to step out of the box. Our faith is ultra important to us.”

One way the duo is setting its own course is to record and tour behind their new Christmas recording A Farmhouse Christmas, the third album of their career. Although some artists wouldn’t consider releasing such a niche album so early in their career, Joey & Rory didn’t hesitate .

“Christmas is Rory’s favorite holiday. What gets him in the spirit are classics like [a holiday movie featuring the television family] The Waltons and [songs by] Nat King Cole,” said Joey.”People record the same songs over and over and there’s nothing unique. How often can you sing ‘Jingle Bells?’ Rory being the songwriter that he is and bieng so talented and loving holiday and music, he has always wanted to record a Christmas record. When I asked him what would make it different he said ‘Well, we will write solely for this project.’”

The couple are proud that they have recorded an album that is full of what Joey calls “new standards for the holiday.” Besides the new songs such as “Let it Snow (Somewhere Else), which Rory co-wrote in Key West, FL, the duo recorded songs that aren’t traditionally associated with the holiday including Merle Haggard‘s “If We Make It Through December.” A few traditional Christmas songs like “Away in a Manger” are also included.

Joey and Rory, whose honors include the 2010 Academy of Country Music award for Top New Vocal Duo, have planned a special tour behind the album when it kicks off November 25th in Joey’s home state of Indiana.

The stage will be set up like the living room of the couple’s 1870s farm house in Tennessee and the duo will mix their personal stories in with the music they play.

“I feel like we’re trying to bring elements of fun and orneriness and seriousness and heartfelt love into it,” said Joey of the tour and music. “Even though our [personal] faith is ultra important to us, we all have to be reminded of what Christmas is [beyond the] hustle and bustle and stress. It’s about much more than that.”

For album information and tour dates, check the duo’s Web site.

Vocal Points: America’s Got Talented Singers

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know about the show American Idol. Since the show’s start in 2002, it’s unbelievable success has created a series of stars—Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Kris Allen and most recently Scotty McCreery. But Idol‘s popularity is now on a whole new level, as evidenced by a crop of similar shows. The X-Factor, The Voice and The Sing-Off are just a few shows which focus on vocalists and their journey to become stars. But which of these programs, if any, actually completely focus on the singer and the importance of a voice above all else?

American Idol, despite its longevity and success, has never been focused on just the voice. While these artists obviously are judged on their singing, the competition is more of a popularity contest, rather than an in-depth examination in vocal technique. And while ex Idol judge Simon Cowell‘s The X-Factor has a different approach, the show is really about contestants with the whole package deal. Premiering earlier this fall, this show boasts a $5 million prize to the one person who can wow the judges with their X factor—the ”thing” that  makes someone a star.

Continue reading ‘Vocal Points: America’s Got Talented Singers’


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