What did I learn from this week's The Voice
? Here are thoughts from backstage and on the red carpet on the competition, someone's birthday, and a member of Team Adam bringing down the house.
For those of you who haven't read these columns before, I have a different perspective on the show, because I'm backstage and behind-the-scenes, and have been since almost the beginning. There are a lot of print-worthy things that wouldn't necessarily be in a news article
: the laughs, the tears, the "wow, I can't believe I got to be a part of that" moments. That's what this column is for: an editorial reflection on what you didn't see.
It's hard to believe that we're only two weeks from the end of The Voice
. It seems like not that long ago that we were waiting for the Super Bowl to end so the show could get started again. Now, we're down to the final eight.
What did I learn this week? If you didn't already know it, it's how you perform on the night, not how you've been performing over the series or how many fans you have on the interwebs, that determines your fate. We saw two fan favorites (Pip
and James Massone
) go home on Monday night - and it wasn't that they were necessarily bad, but that their competition was simply better.
It's another example of how season two is a completely different animal than its predecessor. In the first year, there were clear frontrunners (including eventual winner Javier Colon
), and battle rounds where things weren't always close.
In season two, both audience favorites and one-time contenders (yes, Jesse Campbell
) have been sent home. It's not because they were lacking or they'd done something wrong. It's because on that night, in that performance, they weren't the best on the stage.
That's exactly the way it should be. You shouldn't advance on popularity, or how many Twitter followers you have, or if someone thinks you're cute. You should move forward because you've outsung the competition.
Now, with just two weeks left, I'm not sure there's a clear winner. It could honestly be anyone's game. And there's nothing wrong with that. Who doesn't love a little suspense at the very end?
Here are the rest of my thoughts, in no real order:
Having said the above, I must admit that I'm sad over losing Pip, who was one of my favorite voices in the competition from the day I got to watch his blind audition as it happened. I'll also admit that I'm biased as he became one of my best friends in season two. He's both a great singer and a great person, and I have faith he'll do awesome things.
On that note, it's Pip's birthday today. You can tweet him your birthday wishes at @pip_andrew.
Speaking of sadness, as I walked to the soundstage where the press gathers on Monday, I ended up going past the podium that Tony Vincent used in his performance of "Everybody Wants To Rule The World". I got choked up. I still miss him.
Adam Levine talking Tony Lucca into singing "Baby One More Time" was classic Adam Levine: smart but also a little snarky. The resulting performance was also pretty cool.
I'm convinced there has never been a better match of song and artist on The Voice than Jamar Rogers taking on Bon Jovi's "It's My Life." Jamar pulled so much emotion out of that in a way only he could, and the audience connected with him because of it. Wise call, Mr. Cee Lo Green.
I'm in love with the Team Adam group performance for two reasons: one, I respect Adam for choosing to play the drums and not sing, ceding all the focus to his artists. It reminds me of last year's final round where he very clearly let Javier take the lead on their duet version of "Man In The Mirror." Adam has a great sense of when it's time for him to step into the background.
The other reason I'll never forget that performance is that I have one of his drumsticks sitting on my desk as I write this. I must give a grateful shoutout to Bill, the audience warm-up guy, who gave it to me in recognition of me being at every show. It meant a lot more to me than I can ever say to him - not just having a piece of memorabilia from my hero, but the fact that I was noticed and appreciated.
At the start of Tuesday's show, Blake Shelton came on stage giving a piggyback ride to Adam. It was hilariously awesome.
Blake spotted me in the studio not once, but twice, and acknowledged me each time. A minor thing, sure, but being noticed by Blake Shelton is always cool.
And executive producer Mark Burnett showed up wearing a The Voice T-shirt.
There are a few other people that I want to give shoutouts to this week: firstly, if you haven't already, check out my post-show interviews from Tuesday's elimination show. Both Mathai and Cheesa touched on something I think is really beautiful: how their coaches believed in them and got them to believe in themselves. It's a great thing that these music superstars really are making a difference in these artists' lives.
That's a subject dear to my heart, because Adam has made and continues to make a difference in my life. For those of you who haven't read my previous columns (which you can find at my Voice blog archive), I've been very honored and blessed to have not only met my hero, but also to have had so much encouragement and support from him...and I'm not even on his team! Case in point: Tuesday evening he saw me sitting in the studio and stopped to high-five me. He didn't have to do that, but he did and it made my week. I'm not sure he gets enough credit for what a beautiful heart he has.
I finally got to interview host Carson Daly this week, and I also want to recognize him, because he does a lot for artists who have been on The Voice and also for aspiring musicians in general, whether it's on his late-night NBC series Last Call With Carson Daly or elsewhere. He may be much-maligned as a host, but he really does a lot of work to support new music, and deserves to be recognized for that.
One last note: keep your eyes open for some season one artists to appear in the final episodes of season two...
I also had the opportunity to catch up with a pair of season two Voice alumni in Hollywood on Wednesday night.
We didn't get to see a lot of Team Adam's Nathan Parrett on The Voice. As it turns out, we didn't get to see a lot of what he can do.
He might have lost to Pip in the battle rounds, but on Wednesday night at the Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill in Los Angeles, Nathan was clearly the star of a showcase he put together with several of his friends. Each time he stepped on stage, he was met with raucous applause from the packed house.
If you thought Nathan's blind audition cover of "The Joker" was good (and it was), you would have been thoroughly impressed by the songs he performed during his set. His rendition of the Panic! At The Disco hit "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" far trumped the original, with Nathan pulling out even more frustration and fire from the lyrics. No offense is intended to Brendon Urie, but when Nathan sang that song, it truly came alive.
Other selections included a cover of Jewel's "Foolish Games" and, surprisingly, Salt-n-Pepa's 1993 cut "None of Your Business." On appearances, you probably wouldn't peg him for listening to that song, let alone being able to sing it, but he did - and he did it well.
Aside from being a great performer, though, Nathan has the intangible "it" quality that we often talk about but can never seem to quantify. Though everyone who performed Wednesday night was talented, the room was simply different when he was on stage. He was clearly in his element - and he was also selfless, having worked to put the whole event together and staying after to chat with everyone who'd come out to see it.
That included another Team Adam member, Angel Taylor, who came out to support her teammate. For her part, Angel has a new EP entitled "Motion" that is out now and definitely worth a listen. You'll also hear different things from her that you didn't get to on the show.
There's the distinct possibility that another showcase with Nathan might happen, so watch this space for more information, and if it does, do yourself a favor and come give him a listen. You'll clearly understand what Adam saw in him and just how versatile he truly is.
Now, with Pip also having left the show, perhaps he and Nathan can collaborate on something as fantastic as their battle round version of the Amy Winehouse hit "You know I'm No Good."
For his part, Pip is open to the idea of re-teaming with former roommate Nathan, telling me on Tuesday night that he'd work with him again: "For sure. I think that he's a fantastically talented person and our friendship is definitely going to continue from this point. Musically, we get along." Until the two of them record something new together, you can check out some of their covers at Nathan's YouTube channel.
That's all my thoughts for this week. For the latest on The Voice, you can follow my Voice-exclusive Twitter at @bigredchairs.