Wednesday, May 18, 2011

NBC's The Voice -- Episode 4: The Battle Continues, Rd. 2

Tonight was the second round of battles pitting two of the coach's team members against each other to see who would make it to the live voting rounds where the very discerning American voters will of course make the correct choice and not, for example, vote out the really talented kid with the big heart in favor of the boring, copycat country singer.  Wait, sorry, wrong show.

First up is the big, lovable teddy bear, Nakia, against the owner of the world's greatest Afro, Tye Austin.  I think the last time that much hair has been on one stage must have been the Poison/Warrant/Quiet Riot reunion tour.  They're singing Nee Yo's "Closer" and it seems more in Tye's wheelhouse.  He has such smooth, silky vocals and a perfect recording voice.  I could listen to him sing all night.  But he is up against a force of nature in Nakia.  He has the power, the emotion, the showmanship to really sell the song.  You can't take your eyes off of him on stage.  I would have gone with Tye, being the vocal purist that I am.  But Cee Lo takes "Kia" an interesting nickname for someone who would appear to outweigh his namesake car.

The next duel is actually a threesome, but much less sexy than it sounds.  It's the so cute you want to puke couple of Josh and Nicole Johnson who inexplicably go by the stage name Elenowen.  The folk-pop duo look like they could be third cousins of Kings of Leon and I want to take up a collection to buy Josh a full sweater or jacket so he can get rid of that gnarly vest.  They're going up against bald, rocker Jared Blake who I did not remember from the audition rounds.  Apparently, he did "Good Girls Gone Bad" and everyone passed, so he got a second chance with "Not Ready to Make Nice."  That time, Blake Shelton took him.

Now the folk-pop duet and the rocker dude are going to battle it out on..."Ain't No Mountain High Enough."  Really?  Strange song choice.  Jared started out all gruff and edgy, and then Elenowen came in and they were hardly a presence on the stage, just two lovebirds singing to themselves, somewhat unaware that they needed to engage the audience.  It was weird, Gertrude Stein-esque ("no there there').  I wonder if they knew this wasn't a rehearsal.  I think Blake may have wanted to go with them -- they're cute and marketable.  But Jared brought it and there was no way to ignore that he went after the song like it owed him money.  So he's the next member of Team Blake. 

Poor Angela Wolff.  She is cute as a button (although she should probably consider visiting a cosmetologist who can tame those formidable eyebrows before they take over her face), has a terrific figure and has a really nice voice.  She is as the saying goes, the complete package.  Just one teensy problem.  She's up against someone who may have the best voice to ever grace a reality TV singing competition in Javier Colon.  This guy gave me chills and while my memory of some of the other auditions may be a bit shaky, I will never forget the first time I heard him sing.

Their coach Adam Levine picks "Stand By Me" for them to sing.  I wonder if he thought of giving Angela a blindfold and a cigarette before she went before the firing squad.  As I expected, Angela is terrific.  She has nice stage presence and a lovely voice and is simply adorable.  So I'll be sad to see her go, but when Javier opens his mouth, well, let me quote Blake here:  "Javierrrrr."   He is what makes the music industry so confounding.  There are no guarantees.  You can have a great, really remarkably pure and soulful, voice and yet never make it.  Javier can sing rings around everyone else, but here he stands on the silly boxing-ring stage singing for another chance at stardom.

But sing he does and even though it's just a snippet of what he can do, there is no question he has the quality this show claims to be about...the voice.  And his is as sweet and crystal clear as any I've heard.

The last battle of the night is from Christina Aguilera's team.  She has bald, ballsy, blaster Beverly McClellan going up against some guy who looks like he sells insurance, Justin Grennan.  How cute, their last name's rhyme.  Last week the final battle was Vicci and Niki.  I'm sensing a theme.

They're assigned a song that looks tailor-made for the rocker chick, The Who's "Baba O'Riley," also known by the name of "Teenage Wasteland" and the theme from "CSI:NY."   Considering Justin has been living under a rock for the past twenty years and was totally unfamiliar with this overplayed song, he did a terrific job.  But in proving that heart and desire are sometimes more important than technical skill, Beverly just worked harder and wanted it more and so she fought off his strong opening vocals.  By the end, she was in complete control of the song and the performance and Justin had faded into the background.  Welcome to the live shows Beverly.

Some of these singers already have songs and albums out there, so no need to wait till the end of the show if you want to buy some of their music:

1 comment:

  1. "The last time that much hair has been on one stage must have been the Poison/Warrant/Quiet Riot reunion tour." Actually, nearly every member of those bands had short hair on that tour. Bret was one of the only holdouts. Incidentally, these two seem like Stefano and Casey Abrams in their late thirties. And they looked like a young Peter Jackson and a young Neal Schon.

    "Jared brought it and there was no way to ignore that he went after the song like it owed him money." If Zakk Wylde sang this song, he would sound like that. But he would never sing that song. And I wouldn't say "like it owed him money" because it seemed that Jared was just singing the song his way, while effortlessly singing with conviction and grit. It's really interesting that out of all the judges, Blake has him. I hope he adds some new colors to this blue collar man.

    "Angela is terrific. Javier can sing rings around everyone else, but here he stands on the silly boxing-ring stage singing for another chance at stardom." Ahhh... the ponderous mysteries of life. So, anyway... I didn't think her runs were all that great. Not that she missed notes, but they were just awkward to me. But I like her; her face reminds me of Ally Sheedy. She's comfort food. And Javier is steak.

    "Beverly just worked harder and wanted it more and so she fought off his strong opening vocals." Ehh. I liked Justin more. She seemed out of control during the out-of-control parts of the song, which is good, but also during the controlled parts, which isn't. He had the opposite problem. Now, The Who was said to be one of the forerunners of Punk, but that was in their attitude way more than in their music. Roger always kept a tight rein on Pete's crafty melodies, even when the rest of the band was furiously rolling downhill towards the climax of each song.

    Now, in these singing "reality" shows, the contestants do not have to sing it the way the originators of the song did in order to make it cook. Yet often, things that those originators did to make their songs cook are why their songs are memorable and appealing in the first place. So, while Beverly was owning the crowd, Justin was owning the singing. Thus, there is truth in your words: "Welcome to the live shows, Beverly." And by the way, what a great song that is, no matter who is doing the cooking.