Did you catch The Voice finals? I think it’s safe to say someone bald is going to win. The show was way fun to watch; nor was it without surprises. Know what isn’t fun to watch? Original songs. Ever. I’m of the feeling (and I may be alone here) that part of the fun implicit in these programs is watching performers take on fabulous songs we all know and love. And sure, every hit was once an original song, belted/crooned/rocked by someone on a stage. Or perhaps it was a single released on the radio and we got to hear it about a million times until we either bought it, or condemned it, and soon enough it won something or became part of an album that won something, or at least charted. The point is, the songs we love are evocative and resonant and become very personal because we grow familiar with them and that familiarity is achieved through repetition. Next time they do the show (and the truth is, there will be many, many more next times because it’s awesome and viewers seem to agree) they might want to reexamine the ‘original song’ idea. Quick suggestion: do it somewhere in the middle where it’s not so weighty. It’s called “The Voice” – we’re supposed to pay attention to the pipes, not get sidetracked with brand new content. There’s a reason the show isn’t called “The Vocals” or “The Peculiar Unmemorable Ballad”. To be fair, the conceit did level the playing field – but only when the song was catchy (i.e. “upbeat” ) did singers have a better shot at pleasing voters. Which is what happened to Beverly McLellan, who sang her heart out and whose energy is indeed infectious because she took an unknown substance of a song and made it palatable (or at least suitable for the Foo Fighters someday). Javier and Dia’s songs were touching, which felt boring and anticlimactic at this stage of the game. Vicci managed to stamp her way through another tune that sounded fine, but it didn’t blow everyone’s doors off like Dog Days did.
Maybe that’s why they made sure to have the duets with the coaches. Which I liked a lot. Because even though we’re not “supposed” to vote for them, clearly they’re in everyone’s minds. Blake and Dia stuck close to the heartland with their Blues Brothers take on Tom Petty and were appealing but in no way electrifying. Christina and Beverly opted for a moody, flannel-based Unplugged-style version of Xtina’s own Beautiful (not fair, but it’s Christina’s playground after all), while Adam and Javier out-tenored and out-adorabled one another with Man in the Mirror (risky, but mission accomplished). Finally Cee Lo and Vicci sang Pat Benatar, which is apparently what they were both put on this earth to do, surrounded by astonishing tiny ninja dancers who could easily have been the spawn of the Jolie/Pitts or the Pinkett-Smith/Smiths. The number was a showstopper and an awesome closer. None of it was bolstered by Pitbull (lewd and dressed to sell pre-owned Camrys) or Brad Paisley (who needs another good old boy warning us about the dangers of water consumption in Mexico?) Which is why the show is best served when they focus on the talent at hand. Talent ideally singing songs written by other people who release them on bestselling CDs that we own. Maybe that’s just me. What did you think? By the time you read this blog America will probably already have selected its winner, so for today’s poll let’s just have you all weigh in on the duets you’re not supposed to pay attention to in the first place since they don’t count but which were by far the most fun.
1) Adam & Javier
2) Blake & Dia
3) Cee Lo & Vicci
4) Christina & Beverly