Jaded by American Idol, I didn’t expect to follow another talent show, but The Voice was a pleasant surprise. The final four contestants squared off in the finale last night showing why they were picked best of their teams.
Pressure – The show kicked off with a disastrous performance of Pressure from the four judges. Clearly they didn’t have much time to work out the performance. It also seemed like they were having trouble hearing themselves. No one was particularly bad, but they were disjointed.
Each contestant performed an original song as well as a duet with their judge. The contestants did NOT perform the same songs, so I’m not quite sure how it will all work out.
Javier Colon kicked things off with his original song. He’s clearly the best singer in the group, but his song nearly put me to sleep. That’s not really his fault. Most of the original songs written for these type of awards shows tend to suck. The only one I actually remember was “A Moment Like This” from the first season of Idol, and that one was, at best, a ’90s prom ballad.
Javier’s duet with Adam Levine was a bit better. “Man in the Mirror” was a good chance to showcase his upper register, a place where Levine was clearly comfortable as well.
Vicci Martinez is the underdog. I never expected her to make the finals, but Nakia’s weak song choices did him in. Vicci has a good voice, but she needs the right song to make a great impact. Her original song wasn’t that song.
Vicci’s voice is best suited for ’80s girl rock, and her original song felt like it would have fit in nicely with Bonnie Tyler’s “Faster than the Speed of Light” rather than a record this century.
Her duet with Cee Lo was the highlight of the show. Pat Benatar is an easy choice for Vicci, and I had expected her to dip into that pool earlier in the show’s run.
The duet illustrated what I like about Vicci. She’s fearless. There had to be a point when Cee Lo started talking about having fire, a mohawk and gangs of kids where she began to doubt his sanity. But she jumped right in to the madness and made it work. She won’t win the contest, but she will be remembered. In the music business, being remembered is the point. Maybe she can get something out of it.
Beverly McClellan tried to milk her original song for all it was worth, but it just wasn’t a great song. It WAS the only original song with any real energy though. Add that to her performance skill, and she might have a shot.
Her duet with Christina “Master Exploder” Aguilera on Christina’s “Beautiful” certainly helped Beverly’s case a good bit. But Beverly has kind of the same problem that Vicci has. There just isn’t a lot of marketability for old school female rock voices at the moment. That means any following album will have to have kick-ass songwriting.
Dia Frampton’s original song was the best of the night. Though I don’t think she’s a better sing than Javier, Dia knows her strengths and weaknesses. She knows what she can get from a tune, and she showed it with her performance. Her song was the only one that felt modern, like I could turn on the radio and hear it. I’m not saying it was a great song. No. It wasn’t. But for a reality show, it was pretty solid.
Dia’s duet with Blake “Lt. Dan” Shelton was the worst of the duets. They made a decent pass at Tom Petty’s classic “I Won’t Back Down,” but the Blues Brothers outfits were distracting. Dia’s voice didn’t quite fit with Blake’s either.
Still, Dia will likely win. Javier is the better singer, but Dia’s better at putting a song together. Her original song was stronger, and her version of Kanye’s “Heartless” still has her sitting comfortably in the audience’s minds.
I imagine both will get some sort of record deal. A few months of media exposure can do wonders for marketability.
I’m also hoping to see more of Xenia. Her voice was the most distinct of the finalists. If she had chosen a better song in the semi-finals (A Fine Frenzy perhaps?) she would stand a decent chance of winning it all.
As season one wraps up, my only real issue with The Voice would be the judging. You can count on one hand the times a judge said anything negative about a performer. I’m not looking for another Simon Cowell, but some of the performers just stank. When a judge then compliments them, I know that judge is either lying or wasn’t paying attention.