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.

 

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The Voice Season 2: A Look At the Coaches’ Teams

The Voice has without a doubt replaced American Idol as my singing competition of choice. Heck, when my own mom (who loves watching Idol) agrees that Voice is so much more entertaining, you’ve got something. Let’s be real, we totally love it for the coaches, just as much as listening to the contestants. Anyone who watches the show has to admit that it’s totally fun watching Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green, and Christina Aguilera bicker at one another and fighting to get picked by the contestant. But enough about the coaches, let’s talk about the contestants.

Now the battle rounds have come and gone, with some very hard decisions (and let’s be real, some questionable ones) made by the coaches. We are now left with 6 members on each of the coaches’ teams. As I did last season, I figured I’d break down each team, and see which coach actually has the strongest team.

TEAM ADAM

  • Tony Lucca
  • Pip
  • Kim Yarborough
  • Mathai
  • Karla Davis
  • Katrina Parker

This is a new season, and yet Adam still has the strongest team, in my opinion. Tony’s a former Mouseketeer with Christina, even though she didn’t recognize him. He’s one of my favourites. I remember hearing about him when he opened up for Sara Bareilles (who is also friends with Adam!), not to mention watching the E! True Hollywood Story on the Mickey Mouse Club. Truth be told, I never got around to listening to the stuff he’s released previously, but I definitely have motivation now to check it out.
Pip did really well covering “House of the Rising Sun” and considering he’s only 19? He’s got a great future ahead of him.
Kim is the definition of a diva voice, not to mention, she proves that it is never too late to go for your dreams.
While I enjoyed Mathai’s version of “Rumour Has It” during the blind auditions, after her battle round performance, I kind of realized that her voice was uniquely similar to a couple other singers on the show.
Karla and Katrina, though I didn’t make much of their initial auditions, impressed in their battle rounds.

I’ll also have to admit, that even though the general thought is to never get too attached to contestants early in the process, there were a lot of artists whom I really liked during the blind auditions, who lost in the battle rounds. I was kind of upset with Adam for pairing up Tony with Chris Cauley because I expected both to make it to the live shows (and I absolutely loved Chris’ version of “Grenade”). Angel Taylor was a name I was familiar with, but like Tony, never got around to listening to her material. Orlando Napier showed some real soul singing “Waiting On the World to Change”. I guess it’s not a bad thing to have such a stacked team going into battle rounds, but at the same time, we lost some great talent there.

TEAM BLAKE

  • Jordis Unga
  • Jermaine Paul
  • RaeLynn
  • Erin Willett
  • Naia Kete
  • Charlotte Sometimes

Not to be outdone by Adam, Blake’s got a pretty solid team himself. First of all, I totally remember Jordis from Rock Star INXS. I was quite the fan of hers on that show and still listen to her version of “The Man Who Sold the World”. Now after getting over the shock that Adam didn’t push his button for her, I’m actually glad that she ended up on Blake’s team. She’s got better chances at staying longer by being on Team Blake.
Jermaine was once Alicia Keys’ backup singer and now he’s trying to go at it on his own. He’s got a good sound to him, though I’m not entirely sure I liked his performance of Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated.” However, he showed true professionalism and performance with “Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car.”
For her age, I thought RaeLynn did a decent job in her blind audition. But I thought for sure that Adley Stump was going to beat her in the battle. Adley’s got natural talent and sang ‘Free Fallin’ with more clarity I thought. I certainly understood Blake’s decision to pick RaeLynn; she’s someone who could use mentorship and has room for growth.
Erin making it through over Gwen Sebastian in the battle round was a tough call for Blake, but it turns out it was a win for everybody, since Gwen is now on tour as a backup singer for Blake now.
Naia’s got a really easy going sound, not all that different from Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat.
Charlotte’s another name I had heard before when she had done the blind audition. I didn’t love her performance of “Apologize”, but then with “Pumped Up Kicks” for her battle round (which is a song I don’t particularly like in the first place), I kind of felt indifferent. I give her credit for having a unique tone to her voice, but it seems as though each coach has one artist with this apparently not-so-unique tone.

TEAM CEE LO

  • Jamar Rogers
  • James Massone
  • Erin Martin
  • Tony Vincent
  • Juliet Simms
  • Chessa

Same as it was last season, Cee-Lo’s got a rather eclectic mix of artists on his team. I remember Jamar from Idol a few years back, auditioning with his best friend (and eventual third place finisher, even though I wasn’t a fan, Danny Gokey). Glad to see him audition for The Voice and definitely enjoyed his performance of “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes during the blind auditions. He also killed it with his performance of “I Want to Know What Love Is” in the battle round, even though it meant that we lost Jaime Lono. Not so sure how I feel about James; I don’t think he’ll go all the way, because he still has to develop his sound more.
Erin is Mind-boggling inclusion #1. I really don’t get why she got chosen in the blind auditions in the first place, let alone making it through to the live shows. She’s got a very limited range and to be honest, her voice is kind of annoying (when speaking and singing).
Without a doubt, Tony is one of the most talented guys on the show. I mean, the guy’s coming from a dynamic Broadway background. It hurt to see Justin Hopkins go after their battle round pairing, but I really am looking forward to what Tony will bring to his performances.
Juliet’s got a lot of grit and edge to her. Her personality’s not coming off all that well on the show, but in a show called The Voice, does it really matter? (Just a little. It’s still reality TV after all.)
Chessa, I’m afraid, is Mind-boggling inclusion #2. I don’t get her. I can’t quite pinpoint it, but just something about her voice just doesn’t connect with me. I definitely thought Cee-Lo was going to pick Angie over Chessa in their battle round because Angie had much more clarity in her singing. Alas, that’s not how it went down.

TEAM CHRISTINA

  • Moses Stone
  • Jesse Campbell
  • Lindsey Pavao
  • Sera Hill
  • Chris Mann
  • Ashley De La Rosa

Christina changed it up the most between this season and last with her team. While last season her team consisted of big-voiced singers/belters, her team this season is quite varied. She’s got Moses, the show’s first ever MC. He certainly showed that he does also have the ability to sing and not just rap in his battle round.
If you weren’t already impressed with Jesse’s blind audition, singing “A Song For You”, which had all 4 coaches turn around, then his battle round with Anthony Evans singing “If I Ain’t Got You” should’ve done it. That was definitely a tough call for Christina.
Lindsey’s another unique voice in the competition and really showed creativity performing Trey Songz’ “Say Aah” for her audition.
Sera impressed Christina so much in her audition, that Christina even went up to sing with her! It was a pretty good performance, but now I’m waiting to see what else she brings.
Chris is certainly one of the reasons why The Voice is so different from other talent shows. He’s an opera guy. Where else (except maybe America’s Got Talent) would you find a guy like him competing? I’m not sure how receptive audiences will be to his style, but I’m looking forward to watching it.
I’d say Ashley’s a dark horse. I mean we don’t actually know much about her, except that she’s a young talent. She did a pretty good job of singing “Shark in the Water” by V.V Brown (credit for a different song choice) for her audition, while her battle round duet of “No Air” faced some pitch issues (though her recorded version is much better). She might get shown up by her more polished teammates, but here’s hoping that Christina really uses the opportunity to help Ashley grow as an artist and develop her sound.

So there’s that, a rundown of the 24 artists who made it to the live show. As I understand, the live shows will alternate for 4 weeks, with Adam and Blake’s teams going first this week, then Christina and Cee-Lo’s teams next week, and same thing for another 2 weeks. After that, we’ll be left with a total of 8 artists (2 from each team), then it’ll be the finals. As it was last season, still no theme weeks like Idol (YAY!!!). New to this season is the live results show on Tuesdays, so we’re not left with artists preparing for a song that they won’t get to perform (that was a little awkward).

Now, I still stand by my thinking that Adam’s got the best team, but Blake is a very strong second (down to a Team Adam vs Team Blake again for the finals?) Christina’s definitely got a diverse team this season. And Cee-Lo…well, it’s Cee-Lo, you just never know what you’re gonna get with that guy. For fun (as I did last year) I’ll make a guess as to who the final artist from each team will be (however biased they may be): Tony Lucca, Jordis Unga, Jamar Rogers, and Jesse Campbell.

The Voice airing on NBC Mondays @ 8:00 P.M, with results show Tuesdays @ 9:00 P.M.