How excited was I about “The Voice” finale Monday night? I’m watching it on Tuesday morning.
My general impressions of each of the final four.
- Jermaine Paul (Blake Shelton) – He was a back-up singer and I can see why. He is a solid singer who tends to over-sing at times, but otherwise, he lacks the magnetism of a real star. He did do a good job tonight with both “I Believe I Can Fly” and Blake’s song “God Gave Me You.” He’s just not somebody I would go out of my way to see. He has virtually no shot at winning tonight. He just makes me wish Jamar Rogers was still around.
- Juliet Simms (Cee Lo Green ) – She had that amazing take on “Roxanne” a few weeks back and hasn’t quite been able to reach those heights since (though she came close on “It’s a Man’s Man’s World.”) She has the stage presence of a star. Her vocals are raspy and often interesting. She is no Pat Benatar, though. And she apparently was sick last night. She got swallowed up a bit when dueting with Cee Lo and her closing “Free Bird” (how cliche!) started weak, ended strong. I’m not sure it was enough to garner the votes to win it all.
- Chris Mann (Christina Aguilera) – He is like a duller version of Josh Grobin and naturally, he sings “You Raise Me Up” and adds nothing new to the equation. I am disappointed Christina stuck with him this long but I guess he brings some variety to the finale with his operatic background. And he has fans. He is definitely a dark horse tonight.
- Tony Lucca (Adam Levine) MJ over on her blog thinks Tony is going to win. The voters have been favoring the men to this point so that is a realistic pick. MJ also noted that he is the only singer who has been willing to rearrange songs, like he did covering Britney Spears a couple weeks back and tonight, with Jay-Z’s “99 Problems.” (He actually takes someone else’s cover but nobody will care. David Cook did the same thing.) There was some sort of controversy over the lyrics that peeved Christina. I’m not sure if that matters much for the voters. Although he hardly exudes youth in this pop world, he has enough vocal skills and personality to get a hit or two if properly channeled.
My power four for the final “Idol’ four.
1) Joshua Ledet. While I haven’t always liked his work, he is undoubtedly a good singer who brings a specific style to the stage. It’s been five season since a non WGWG has won this competition so maybe, just maybe, he’ll garner enough votes to win it all. I am a skeptic but I’m placing him on top this week because he is getting so much love from the judges and Jimmy Iovine and hasn’t had a really bad performance in awhile. As bloggers here note, though, he sometimes comes across as remote and uncomfortable off camera, which could hurt him.
2) Hollie Cavanagh. I never though I’d ever place her this high but she and Joshua would make an intriguing top two. She has been a dark horse throughout this competition, rising steadily. This type of singer tends to finish third (think Vonzell Solomon, Elliott Yamin, Haley Reinhart). But maybe she’ll move beyond that. Her improvements have been steady and noticeable and voters tend to like progress. And she truly is likable on and off stage.
3) Jessica Sanchez. She has a legion of fans who love her. But a good portion of the population, including me, find her less than authentic. She seems like she’s more play acting than really feeling the songs she sings. I have struggled to connect with her from day one and she has done nothing recently to change my mind. I do give her plenty of props for going for difficult songs and being fearless in general.
4) Phillip Phillips. Oh, Phillip. We know you’re sick. How sick? “Idol” gives us only glimpses. He’s skipped two Ford commercials. He avoids choreography whenever possible. He ignores fashion advice. He reluctantly sings duets he cant’ stand. What is he still doing here? He seems like he doesn’t want to be there anymore yet his fans have kept him out of the bottom three (or two, as it will be from here on in.). Let him go. Let him get his surgery and rest up for tour. He’ll be fine.
In other news:
- Clay Aiken, as predicted, is now in the final three for sure on “Celebrity Apprentice.” He got grilled pretty hard by John Rich Sunday night for playing it safe but Clay has played smart in my mind, generally keeping out of the big drama and keeping his composure through a lot of stress. His tastes are not modern or hip by any stretch, but that hasn’t hurt him to date. He is now up against smart egomaniac Aubrey O’Day and wily Arsenio Hall.
- Stefano Langone had something going on with Pia Toscano but apparently lost out of Mark Ballas. He also noted that AI 10 “Live” performers got a pay cut because AI 9 did so poorly. I wonder if AI 11 singers will get a pay raise. They certainly should. I expect the tour will do as well as last year, if not better.
- Greg Kot, the well-respected music critic at the Chicago Tribune, calls the “Idol” top four “particularly uninspiring.” He also doesn’t like Jimmy Iovine’s presence. I don’t agree with him. Do you?
- Chart update: Carrie Underwood’s “Good Girl” holds at No. 7 on the Mediabase country chart, showing some upward momentum but this could still be her first single not to finish in the top two. (It’s at No. 31 on Hot AC) Kelly Clarkson’s “Mr. Know It All,” country version is at No. 33. Kelly’s “Stronger” is down to No. 9 on the top 40 chart after peaking at No. 1 and is no. 2 on Hot AC after also peaking at No. 1. Jennifer Lopez’s “Dance Again” is at No .17. Daughtry’s “Outta My Head” is struggling to get out of the 30s on Hot AC. Haley Reinhart’s “Free” is stuck at No. 39. Ruben Studdard’s “June 28th (I’m Single)” peaked at No. 16 on urban AC and is now at 19. Jennifer Hudson’s “Think Like a Man” peaked at No. 19 on urban AC and fell to 23.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk