NBC stretched this baby out to two hours.
It included four original songs by the artists. (Take that, “American Idol!”)
And it featured four duets with the singers and their coaches. (Also something that couldn’t happen on “Idol”)
There were appearances by Ne Yo and Pitbull, plus the always delightful Brad Paisley. The opening number (Queen/David Bowie’s “Under Pressure’) by the quartet of coaches was fun, far better than their earlier Queen medley a few weeks ago.
Based on iTunes sales (and that seems like a fair if not perfect correlation), cutie-pie Dia Frampton is going to win. Her passably appealing song “Inventing Shadows” just beats out Javier Colon’s surprisingly good “Stitch by Stitch.” Way behind is Vicci Frampton’s disappointing “Afraid to Sleep.” Beverly McLellan’s rather pedestrian “Lovesick” concluded the night and has been by far the least popular of the four on iTunes.
Who do I want to win? I was rooting for Vicci coming in but her original song flopped. She did pull off the duet, though. Beverly is my second favorite but I liked Dia’s song a smidge better. Oddly, my least favorite Javier gave me my favorite song. So I’m not sure who I want to win per se but wouldn’t it be cool if Beverly did?
That “Voice” tour? A bit on the brief side. Just six cities and Atlanta is not included. Obviously, this was put together at the last second. I’m shocked they aren’t at least making it 20 cities. And speaking of “Idol,” Katharine McPhee showed up to promote her new show “Smash,” which will be paired with “The Voice” early next year. (McPhee sings ‘Beautiful” in the pilot. Christina and Beverly dueted “Beautiful.” Coincidence?)
My take on the four original songs (two songs reference stitches!)
Javier Colon (Team Adam): “Stitch by Stitch.” Up to this point, I wasn’t all that impressed by Colon. He struck me as a bit generic despite a great voice. But I really enjoyed the song. The chorus stuck in my head and the entire song just had a great pop sensibility. Sure it is a stitched-together pastiche of many other songs I’m sure I’ve heard before but it works.
Vicci Martinez (Team Cee Lo): ‘Afraid to Sleep.” With help from former Atlanta rocker Butch Walker, Vicci’s mid-tempo rock tune lacks that killer hook. It just kind of falls flat despite Vicci’s effort to jazz it up.
Dia Frampton (Team Blake) : “Inventing Shadows.” She has the most distinctive voice of the foursome and this song showcases her strengths bringing emotion, sweetness and vulnerability in equal measure. She’s like a merger of Fiona Apple and Colbie Caillat with a bit of Adele thrown in. In this day and age, she has the best shot at a radio-friendly pop career of the four singers.
Beverly McLellan (Team Christina): “Lovesick.” As usual, Beverly sang this with 150% passion and her vocals are impeccable as always. The verses sound rather generic. The chorus is a bit more memorable but not terribly deep: “Lovesick. I’m sick of love!” While not a terribly bad song, I have no idea where this could land in radio. It’s too pop for a rock station and I’m not sure top 40 would go for it either.
My take on the four duets:
Javier-Adam: “Man in the Mirror.” It was pleasant but didn’t add much to an amazing classic by Michael Jackson.
Vicci-Cee Lo: “Love is a Battlefield.” Cee Lo really turns this into a “Mad Max” meets Las Vegas performance. Vicci said it would be “epic.” And it really is! The kids are adorable, too, emulating moves from the original Pat Benatar video. The vocals? Cee Lo is not a great singer but Vicci certainly is.
Dia-Blake: “I Won’t Back Down.” Dia lacks the edge to make this one work on a visceral level. Blake? Better. Combined, this wasn’t great chemistry. And the Blues Brothers glasses and get up? Cheese ball big time, even for me!
Beverly-Christina: “Beautiful”: This is Christina’s most iconic song and anyone who feels out of the norm can relate. Sure, the song becomes a run-a-thon but it’s affecting nonetheless. Beverly is fearless and has no problem matching Christina note for note.