Music Monday: Reality TV Alums

There was a time I used to love American Idol, before everything about it started to annoy me. These days, The Voice is my singing competition of choice, but even I have to admit that them doing two seasons year is quickly burning me out. But you know what? At the end of the day, you can’t deny some of the talent that comes out of these TV singing competitions. Just two weeks ago, American Idol season 8 winner Kris Allen released his third album, Horizons, and it got me thinking about all the other alums who came out of Idol or Voice, whose career I still follow and music I still listen to.

  1. Kelly Clarkson, Sober – Too obvious to put Kelly in this list? Who cares? Let’s be real, it all started when Kelly won that first season of Idol and moved on to international success. It would be easy to put one of her massively successful singles, but instead, I’m going with my favourite Kelly song of all time.
  2. Kris Allen, In Time – As previously mentioned, the winner of American Idol season 8 just released a new album and “In Time” is one of my favourites off of it. People may have wanted to Adam Lambert to win that season, but I was a fan of Kris’ from the get-go and have absolutely loved everything he’s done since the show.
  3. Tessanne Chin, Count on My Love – I’ve loved The Voice from the beginning, but Tessanne’s album (which got released in June) is the first Voice winner’s album I’ve actually bought. She’s an amazing and unique talent, and the album does feel like its an extension of the person you met on the show.
  4. Chris Cauley, She Can’t Take My Love – Chris appeared on the second season of The Voice and immediately impressed me with his rendition of “Grenade.” Though his time on the show was short-lived, I was so impressed by his voice that I continued to follow his music. So glad I did and helped fund (through Kickstarter of course) his EP My Turn which was released last year.
  5. Dia Frampton, Walk Away – She may have been known as one half of the sister duo Meg & Dia prior to being on The Voice, but Dia made a name for herself and took it to second place in the first season. Her album Red was one of my favourites in 2011, with its eclectic mix that still managed to personify Dia as an artist.
  6. Will Champlin, Eye of the Pyramid – Will came in third place in season 5 of The Voice, and that was after being stolen twice during the run of the show! His album Borrowing Trouble was released in June and like Tessanne’s album, it’s what you would have expected from him if you were a fan of his during the show.
  7. Jordis Unga, Hold on Me – I first remember Jordis from when she competed on a show called Rock Star: INXS and one of my favourite songs she did on that show was “The Man Who Sold the World” by David Bowie – that was 2005. Flash forward to 2012, where Jordis re-appears on my radar, appearing on season 2 of The Voice. Like Chris Cauley, I backed her Kickstarter, and “Hold on Me” is one of the songs that is featured on her album A Letter from Home.
  8. David Cook, Life on the Moon – I think it’s safe to say that David kind of ruined how I watch American Idol, in the BEST way possible. That is to say, season 7 of Idol was a game changer and that’s because David regularly remade the songs he performed on the show so they didn’t sound exactly like the original. I mean, who can forget his rendition of “Always Be My Baby“? Classic. Since then, he’s released two full albums and I actually wanted to include his song “Laying Me Low” which is a little bit more recent, but because Spotify doesn’t have it, I picked my favourite song from his first album.
  9. Tony Lucca, All My Friends – Tony had a pretty decent career/following before going on The Voice. I wish I could say I’ve followed his career for a long time but The Voice really was my true introduction to his music (I only knew of him previously as a former Mickey Mouse Club member). He released an EP under Adam Levine’s 222 Records label, but has now gone back to his indie roots and has released another EP Drawing Board on his own.
  10. Melinda Doolittle, You’re the Reason (U.R.Y) – One of the best talents to come out of Idol and she needs to get more recognition. Melinda is simply amazing and this song, from the album of the same name, features her flawless vocals over a modern R&B sound that still has a little old school feel to it. So in other words, it’s awesome.
  11. Ben Hazlewood, Twice – Ben surprised me on the first season of The Voice Australia and it continued post-show. I was incredibly impressed by his EP Loveless which turned out to be a very solid collection of pop songs.
  12. Diana Rouvas, If We Never Said Hello – I feel like it’s a pattern with me, following the careers of more non-winners than actual show winners, but that’s because there’s just so many talented singers who deserve recognition. Diana is another alum from the first season of The Voice Australia, who has such a soulful yet cool voice. I’ve got one of her original songs here, but may I suggest you check out her rendition of Beyonce’s “Love on Top”? Just as good, if not better than the original (yeah, I said it.)
  13. Carrie Underwood, Undo It – I wasn’t a huge fan of Carrie’s, thought she was a great singer on Idol and she deserved to win, I just wasn’t that big on country music. I slowly became a fan after the release of “Before He Cheats” and by the time she released her third album Play On, which features “Undo It” I was a convert. I still can’t do the REALLY COUNTRY songs, but give me a country song with a rock edge and we’re good.

 

55th Annual Grammy Award Winners + Performers

Music’s biggest night came and went last night, and with no real indication as to who would come out on top, it was an interesting affair to say the least. I’ve made my comments on the nominees, but here’s a rundown of some of the winners and quick thoughts.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

  • The Black Keys, El Camino
  • fun., Some Nights
  • WINNER: Mumford and Sons, Babel
  • Frank Ocean, Channel Orange
  • Jack White, Blunderbuss

The nominees was a bunch of very solid albums, but I do think Mumford and Sons’ win for their album “Babel” was very much deserved. “Babel” was one of the big successes of 2012, selling 600,000+ copies in its first week of release in September. Critics were fair with the album and without a doubt, Mumford are a part of time in music where real music is once again being appreciated.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

  • The Black Keys, Lonely Boy
  • Kelly Clarkson, (What Doesn’t Kill You) Stronger
  • fun. ft. Janelle Monae, We Are Young
  • WINNER: Gotye ft. Kimbra, Somebody That I Used to Know
  • Frank Ocean, Thinkin’ About You
  • Taylor Swift, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

“Somebody That I Used to Know” is a perfectly fine song, but because radio played it to death, I have negative feelings towards it. I really wanted Kelly to win it and thought that fun. would probably take it instead (and I was going to be fine with that), but not so fond of Gotye winning.

SONG OF THE YEAR

  • Ed Sheeran, The A-Team
  • Miguel, Adorn
  • Carly Rae Jepsen, Call Me Maybe
  • Kelly Clarkson, (What Doesn’t Kill You) Stronger
  • WINNER: fun., We Are Young

Again, I figured “We Are Young” would win, but was really hoping for “Stronger” to take it.

BEST NEW ARTIST

  • Alabama Shakes
  • WINNER: fun.
  • Hunter Hayes
  • The Lumineers
  • Frank Ocean

I honestly thought it would’ve been great if Frank Ocean had won. However, considering the track record of R&B/rap/hip-hop acts winning the category, chances were slim. Not so surprised by fun.’s win.

BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE

  • WINNER: Adele, Set Fire to the Rain [Live]
  • Kelly Clarkson, (What Doesn’t Kill You) Stronger
  • Carly Rae Jepsen, Call Me Maybe
  • Katy Perry, Wide Awake
  • Rihanna, Where Have You Been

The only 2 possible winners in my book were Adele and Kelly. Kelly’s had a spectacular year, so I was really hoping for her to take the win, but I am perfectly happy with Adele winning.

BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

  • Florence + the Machine, Shake It Out
  • fun., We Are Young
  • WINNER: Gotye ft. Kimbra, Somebody That I Used to Know
  • LMFAO, Sexy and I Know It
  • Maroon 5 ft. Wiz Khalifa, Payphone

Of course I was pulling for Maroon 5 to win, but alas, Gotye ended up the winner. At least LMFAO didn’t win.

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

  • WINNER: Kelly Clarkson, Stronger
  • Florence + the Machine, Ceremonials
  • fun., Some Nights
  • Maroon 5, Overexposed
  • P!nk, The Truth About Love

I hate the idea that I would vote against Maroon 5 winning, but in this case, I had to give it to Kelly. I have been listening to Stronger ever since it came out, and I’m still not tired of it. So call me super excited when I heard Kelly’s name called out as the winner for this amazing album.

Other notable winners:

  • BEST RAP PERFORMANCE/BEST RAP SONG – Jay-Z & Kanye West, N****s in Paris
  • BEST RAP ALBUM – Drake, Take Care
  • BEST COUNTRY SONG/BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE – Carrie Underwood, Blown Away
  • BEST COMEDY ALBUM – Jimmy Fallon, Blow Your Pants Off
  • BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM – Frank Ocean, Channel Orange

PERFORMANCES

Let’s talk about the performances, shall we? To me, this year’s telecast was one of the best in recent memory. Overall, almost all the performances were incredible, really bringing back the musicianship of it all.

Taylor Swift, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together: Taylor opened up the show, with some sort of circus/Wonderland theme. Vocals were on the iffy side.

Ed Sheeran & Sir Elton John, The A-Team: I still contend that Ed Sheeran should’ve been nominated for more awards, but it was certainly a treat to have Sir Elton John perform alongside Ed on this track. This performance really kicked off the show.

fun., Carry On: Nothing says “this is a live performance!” like bringing out the rain machine.

Miranda Lambert & Dierks Bentley, Over You/Home: What should have seemed like a no-brainer in the duet department, the set up for this pairing felt a little off somehow. Although I still don’t understand how Miranda got snubbed for that wonderful song of hers that she co-wrote with Blake Shelton.

Miguel & Wiz Khalifa, Adorn: I had no idea who Miguel when nominations were announced, but the short performance of this song got me intrigued. I have to say though, how hilarious is it that after they performed, they were giving the award for Best Country Solo Performance? Can we say random?!

Mumford and Sons, I Will Wait: These guys are a no-fuss bunch, and simply bring the music.

Justin Timberlake, Suit & Tie/Pusher Love Girl: This was the highly anticipated performance of the night, and JT did not disappoint. Starting off with his new single, the telecast turned the performance to black+white, giving the song the extra amount of class. I haven’t made my thoughts known on the new single, so here’s what I have to say about it – with its retro/throwback vibe, while still sounding current, it may not have been what people expected from JT, but it’s exactly what radio needs right now. Jay-Z came up for his verse, and JT subsequently followed with a new track off of “The 20/20 Experience” (out March 19th!). Highlight of the night, hands down (says the biased JT fan).

Maroon 5 & Alicia Keys, Daylight/Girl on Fire: I’m a little taken aback by how well these two songs meshed together. The way they changed up the songs to suit each other, made me like the songs more. I want this version of Daylight that M5 performed here, to be how they perform it on tour. To be honest, I was never a big fan of Girl on Fire, but I enjoyed this version.

Rihanna ft. Mikky Echo, Stay: Usually one for a dance spectacle, Rihanna surprised with the performance of her new single, a ballad that showed off her vocals in a way we hadn’t seen.

Black Keys, Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Lonely Boy: There was so much going on the wardrobe front, but with such a lively performance, nothing mattered but the music.

Kelly Clarkson, Tennessee Waltz/Natural Woman: Kelly paid tribute to Lifetime Achievement honorees, Patti Page and Carole King. With the latter song, I got total Idol flashbacks to when Kelly had performed it back then, and as always, she KILLED the vocals.

Bruno Mars, Sting, Rihanna, Damien Marley and Ziggy Marley, Locked Out of Heaven/Walking On The Moon/Could You Be Loved: It’s hard to imagine that Bob Marley never won a Grammy, but he has made an indelible mark on music today. It was certainly fun to hear Bruno Mars’ hit song segway oh so perfectly into The Police song, but then getting Damien & Ziggy Marley to come out with Rihanna and completely giving tribute to Bob Marley was a moment that the Grammys are made for.

The Lumineers, Ho Hey: Everyone’s new favourite song. Though to be honest, their performance was a little too short for my liking.

Jack White, Love Interruption/Freedom at 21: I still haven’t taken a listen to Blunderbuss, but will certainly have to now. I liked the two different sounds we heard for each of his songs, and it definitely got me interested.

Carrie Underwood, Blown Away/Two Black Cadillacs: It was a big night for the 2 biggest stars to come out of the Idol Machine. I’ve really come to enjoy Carrie’s music, but I thought she sounded a little under-the-weather here. I mean, we’ve heard Carrie perform numerous times before and know she’s great, so this felt a little disappointing. And that dress! I actually don’t know what to think about it, though it seemed a little distracting.

Levon Helm Tribute, The Weight: Amongst the artists who contributed to this tribute were Sir Elton John, Zac Brown, T-Bone Burnett, Mumford and Sons, Mavis Staples, and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes. It was an uplifting tribute and certain proof of real musicianship.

Frank Ocean, Forrest Gump: This was interesting…I’ve listened to Channel Orange and thought that it was an interesting album to say the least. Though I do agree with a lot of people in wondering why he didn’t opt to perform his breakthrough song “Thinkin Bout You” instead, which would’ve gotten more people on board with his music.

LL Cool J, Chuck D, Z-Trip, Tom Morello, and Travis Barker, Whaddup/No Sleep Till Brooklyn: LL Cool J as host, jumped into a performer mode to close out the show, performing a new song and following up with a the Beastie Boys song as tribute to the late Adam Yauch. The timing felt off, with the performance coming on after a commercial break, after the last award of the night was given out.