Tuesday, November 26, 2013

“The Voice” – Top 8 – Recap

Last week, we said goodbye to Austin and Kat. I figured Austin would be going home, but Kat should have advanced to the Top 8. Surprisingly, Caroline was also in the bottom 3, but she advanced thanks to the Instant Save (which was no surprise). With two artists going home each week, the remaining ones are under a tremendous amount of pressure... and things can change very fast.

After an opening performance by Robin Thicke, James was first to sing for your votes with “Somebody to Love.” Carson commented that James was taking “a big risk with a big song,” but James pretty much nailed it. Walking out on stage with a ‘posse’ of tuxedo clad guys surrounding him set an interesting feel to the song. As usual, his pitch was great... his power notes were almost perfect, and he even threw in a nice falsetto. My only criticism would be his style. Again, he came out singing with that ‘half microphone stand,’ and it just made everything he did look ridiculous. I seemed to fixate on that and lost most of performance. The first time, it was a neat gimmick, the second time... it just had me shaking my head.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Artist Review—Celeste Kellogg

Celeste Kellogg, the soon-to-be-twenty-year-old, is an independent and rapidly rising country music singer/songwriter. Like many artists, Celeste found her love and passion for singing at a young age, while in church and school choirs. It wasn’t long before she realized music is what she was meant to do.

At twelve-years-old, Celeste auditioned for and became part of Radio Disney’s tween group RD7. The group opened for The Jonas Brothers, Raven, Miley Cyrus, and The Cheetah Girls. The group also performed on Kelly Clarkson’s “Addicted to Love” tour.
After Radio Disney, Celeste put together her own group, No Limit, which (strangely) lead to her being able to add acting to an already impressive résumé when the No Limit Kids: Much Ado About Middle School movie was made by Dave Moody. So, Celeste acts... she dances... she choreographs... but my focus is on Celeste Kellogg - Singer/Songwriter.

Available on iTunes
In 2011, Celeste released her debut album “This Is Where I Wanna Be.” She made her first music video for My Jeans, and her single The Look hit #20 on the charts in Germany. It was her video for The Look that introduced me to Celeste’s music. I came across it recently on Twitter and was immediately impressed... not only vocally but also stylistically. The song tells a story, and the video plays that story out. It’s a fun song and a great video. After watching the video, I knew Celeste definitely had the ‘look’ and the sound to become a huge part of country music.

Country music, as with all music, is continually evolving, and Celeste seems to have embraced that in a way that is pretty unique. Her music definitely has the ‘traditional’ country tone, but she seems to be able to incorporate other elements to enhance the song without it losing its intended feel. Her music is youthful, energetic, and fun... but still 100% country. Celeste Kellogg is one of a few artists who is going to lead us into the next generation of country music.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

“The Voice” – Top 10 – Recap

Last week (as I had said), the journey on “The Voice” ended for Josh Logan and Jonny Gray. Last night the Top 10 performed, and the pressure to be the best continued, as another two artists will be eliminated tonight. As the number of artists shrink, the competition gets even more serious. Every one of the Top 10 is extremely talented, and it’s getting more difficult to say who will stay and who will go home. At this stage, all have acquired a strong fan base, but song choice will continue to play a crucial role in getting the votes. I’ve got to admit, the Instant Save has added an entire new element to the eliminations (Kat was saved last week).

Last night started off with the Top 10 performing “Say It, Just Say It” as a group. I was impressed with how well it did come together, considering how different they all are in style and performance. Caroline is beginning to show a new and more extroverted side of herself. Her confidence has grown, and she definitely seems more comfortable and at home on the stage. Will, on the other hand, seemed off in his own world during the group performance. While everyone was moving (or dancing) along with the song, he just kind of stood his ground... barely moving. He was really stiff and one couldn’t help but notice that. Other than Will, the group was full of energy, and I really enjoyed the performance.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

“The Voice”—Top 12 – Recap

Only one week away from the Top 10 performances, and everyone on The Voice is talented, yet so diverse, that it’s hard to figure who will go all the way. Last night, the Top 12 performed with two of them facing elimination tonight. For the first time this season, only the votes will decide who stays and who goes. The coaches no longer have any say or power to save. New this year, however, is the Instant Save. During the live elimination show, after the bottom three artists are revealed, viewers will have a few minutes to 'tweet-to-save' one of the artists. For full details on how the Instant Save will work, visit nbc.com/the-voice.

Caroline Pennell was first up last night. CeeLo mentioned that “Caroline has stolen the hearts of America,” but he still wanted to try and bring a more energetic and up-tempo version of her to the stage, choosing “Wake Me Up” to do this.
It was an interesting performance, but I feel that certain elements didn’t match well with others. Hair and wardrobe gave her a more ‘grown-up’ look. The stage props were classy and elegant, matching her look, but the background images being flashed across screens behind her were in a style that one would probably find painted in kindergarden classrooms. These images were very distracting and conflicted too much with everything else.
Vocally, Caroline did nicely with the song CeeLo picked. He tried to push her out of her comfort zone, but it didn't fully work... maybe he's pushing too far too fast? Her voice is so unique and soft, and there were times where the hidden power in her voice did sneak out, and she sounded great. Unfortunately, there were more times where that power should have come out... and it tried... but didn’t quite get there.
Her voice is pure and simple, but Caroline needs to work on bringing that power we caught a glimpse of last night out more often if she wants to win this. She has the personality. She has the connection. She just needs to believe in herself a little more... Hopefully CeeLo can help her bring out what’s really inside her.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

“The Voice”— Eliminating Eight (Top 20 to Top 12)

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."
~Dr. Seuss

The first live Elimination Show came and went but not without a few surprises and much talk. The show’s Top 20 needed to become the Top 12. America voted and bought the music, and these votes and purchases saved two artists on each team. The third artist was chosen by his or her respective judge. I nailed who America would choose from each team, but I missed the coaches’ choices (with the exception of Ceelo). Blake, Christina, and Adam left me really scratching my head.

Before the results were given, each team performed as a group. Team Blake took the stage first and sang “Free Ride.” There’s not much to say about the performance. It was alright. For the most part, they sang well together, but it was nothing spectacular.
The results came and America saved Austin Jenckes and Cole Vosbery. Both are very talented and have connected rather well with the viewers, so it was no surprise America’s votes put them in the Top 12.
It’s what came next that surprised me. Blake made his decision and picked Ray Boudreaux as the third member of his Team. Blake said that he picked Ray because he believed Ray was the one he could “move forward with and have the most success with.” Huh?
It’s not that Ray isn’t a great singer... he is. I just figured Blake, one of the biggest country superstars in the industry right now (he won Male Vocalist and Album of the Year at the CMA Awards the night before), would have taken his Country powerhouse Shelbie Z to the Top 12... especially after her live performance last week when Blake said to her, “If I had been in a coma and woke up and saw that, I would think that’s one of the biggest stars in country music.” So what happened?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

“The Voice” – Recap – Top 20 Live (p.2)

Last night Team CeeLo and Team Christina wrapped up the Live Top 20 performances. Ten more talented artists grabbed the microphone and took the stage in hopes of making it through to the Top 12... remember, only three artists from each team will move forward.

Tuesday’s show was very different from Monday’s, and I’m not sure I agree with how much the production was changed. From the opening numbers (Christina was a part of both) to the contestants’ performances... the two shows were like night and day. Monday night started off loud, flashy, and full of energy. It set the tone for the rest of the show, and most contestants used and exhibited that kind of energy in their performances.

Tuesday, in stark contrast, production stripped everything down. The opening act by Great Big World, accompanied by Christina Aguilera, was absolutely beautiful, but it was so tame... a piano, a microphone, and a few spot lights. While it was a emotional performance, there was nothing else. Sadly, this set the tone for most of the remaining ten artists.

Sure, by stripping it down, we can more easily focus on the talent of the artists, but I think it gave an unfair edge to those from Monday. I do agree that when you have the band, light shows, and dancers, it takes a little away from the actual vocals... but it makes for one heck of a show. With minimal light effects, a hidden band, and no dancers, we can see what the artist really has vocally. But was this fair? My answer is no.
Both nights should have been the same, so we could make the same type of judgement and form the same kind of opinion for each artist performing. At this stage in the competition, people are beginning to form opinions and to pick favorites... and many people are heavily influenced by the ‘show’ surrounding the vocals. What I’m saying is that a stripped down show is fine, but it should have been done for both nights then. I'm afraid this production decision may create some biased decisions.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

“The Voice” – Recap – Top 20 Live (p.1)

“Getting to the Live Show is just magical... It’s really special”
~Christina Aguilera

Last night, “The Voice” began its Live Shows. This week the Top 20 perform over two nights, with the results being shown on Thursday. Each team currently has 5 artists, but on Thursday, each team will be brought down to three—making this year’s Top 12. After the performances, the viewers vote. Their votes will put two artists from each team into the Top 12... the third artist will be chosen by the respective coach.

Monday’s show featured Team Adam and Team Blake and opened with Christina performing with Flo Rida. Their opening number was impressive and included a spectacular display of morphing stage props, magician like movements, lights, dancers, and ended with a couple of large confetti cannons. I wonder how much added pressure that opening act put onto the contestants? Really... how do you follow that?

2013 CMA Awards – Predictions and Performers

Tomorrow is “Country Music’s Biggest Night™,” and the fans are not going to be disappointed. All week, country music fans have been celebrating the music and preparing for “The 47th Annual CMA Awards” broadcast. When the nominees were announced, I wrote a piece on the CMA Awards... you can read it here. With tomorrow’s broadcast, it’s time to share my predictions on the winners and the exciting list of performers.

As it has been for the past five years, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley will be co-hosting the broadcast tomorrow night (November 6, 2013 on ABC). Not only can we look forward to the energy both Carrie and Brad bring, but there is also an amazing line-up of performers scheduled for the evening:

1. Jason Aldean
2. Luke Bryan
3. Eric Church
4. Florida Georgia Line
5. Alan Jackson
6. Little Big Town
7. Time McGraw
8. Kacey Musgraves
9. Brad Paisley
10. George Strait
11. Taylor Swift
12. Carrie Underwood.

The two I’m most excited to see are Carrie Underwood and Kacey Musgraves... but all of them are great and will do nothing less than entertain.

So, lets see how well I do. Add your predictions in the comments below...
My 2013 predictions are...