Monday, September 30, 2013

The Voice U.S. S5 Recap: The Pun About Blake's Victory Count

Tonight on the NBC program with ratings (That was NEVER "Guys With Kids" or "Whitney"), the Blind Auditions' 3rd night commenced with the following nouns occurring in the following chronological sequence. Songs were sung, sexual tension ("Playful banter" my ass) was felt yet again between the coaches and most importantly dreams of pop stardom were a step closer to coming true (More or less, but they won't be screwed like recent American Idol or X Factor U.S. winners.)

Let's play rough and get it on!

The first defendant in the Court of Public Opinion was Ray Boudreaux, a singer turned single father (Unprotected sex derails singing careers. Sorry, but it does.) or "Dad with Dreams". He auditioned with, "Use Me" by Bill Withers. He managed to impress Cee-Lo and Blake for whatever reason; he was a bit too schmoozy sounding for me. He ends up picking Blake as his coach; A. Whatever; he was bad to me...B. *yaaaaaaaaawn* Have fun -_- ; by the way, his little girl was a Twitter sensation. Great -_-

Second to have their singing judged was Lina Gaudenzi, a model turned singer (Great; a Josiah Hawley type again. Wonderful -_-). She auditioned with "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac. You know the slants against Shakira for sounding like a goat? Apply it to this chick. X-Tina and Blake adorably bitched at each other until Lina picked X-Tina to coach her.

Third to try their hands at making the big red chairs turn was Juhi...that's her name. Apparently a nerd, Juhi felt conflicted about being on the show. Cut to her audition of "Mercy" by Duffy and there's no reason to feel conflicted. She was lovely and Cee-Lo and X-Tina agreed. After having a fangasm (No thanks to Syfy) over Gnarls Barkley and X-Tina (I understand excitement, but my God was this chick geeking out), she picks Cee-Lo as her coach.

Fourth of the night was Malford Milligan. He has the best name ever and represents for those with albinism [where the term albino comes from; but it's actually a bad term]. He auditioned with "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green. He sounded fabulous and like a legend to me. Yet, the coaches do not turn around. Seriously, this is one of the few audition rejects that baffled me. The coaches explained he sounded too on the nose like Al Green. While that makes sense, it shouldn't with him because he was awesome. Malford is a courteous reject like everyone else so far so there's that.

Oh look; a reject montage. Better luck next season...and NEXT!

Fifth was Justin Blake who is an "Oversized Load" truck driver with kid on the way [Use protection]. He had cojones to sing Blake's song, "Sure Be Cool If You Did". Country singer? Not my cup of hot toddy. He defaulted to Adam's team which shocked me as I thought this was Blake bait ("You mean the one who sang a Blake song seemed like Blake bait?" Yes, goddamn you.) through and through. Still, Mr. and Mr. Shevine fighting is cute. *d'awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww*

Sixth to try and make it on the show was Timyra-Joi, whose vocal coach opened the door on them when her Dad temporarily lost her job. She auditioned with "Girl On Fire" by Alicia Keys. For another youngun' (Out of daycare the show provided, apparently.) she was decent but she picked an Alicia Keys song. Might I suggest Ariana Grande, next time? After X-Tina, Blake and Cee-Lo waged war with each other she ended up picking X-Tina as her coach.

Seventh, Monika Leigh a reluctant administrative assistant for a hotel and aspiring singer. 4 years of no performing against her and she auditions with "The Thrill Is Gone" by B.B. King. This was good to where I almost forgave the "K" in her name. Adam, Blake and Cee-Lo turn around and after a last minute B.S. move, Monika picked Blake. no one with a "K" instead of "C" in their name.

Eighth, Zach Hinson whose a country singing firefighter...a la Warren Stone. He auditioned with "Drunk On You" by Luke Bryan. Ughhhhhhh at the fact MORE country artists are popping up. Luckily, the coaches didn't turn around as Zach became another reject but another courteous reject. Sorry...he was just bland and boring. Credit again to the producers to getting courteous rejects for the show. 'Tis lovely indeed.

Ninth up for public scrutiny was Kaley Cuoco's sister/personal assistant Briana. Briana's out to make a name for herself (Go by Briana or change it to Cocoa) She fulfills a wish and performs "You and I" by Lady Gaga. Kaley went batshit as her sister made it thanks to X-Tina and Cee-Lo. After Briana had a seat to relax, she decided to pick X-Tina to coach her. Personally, she was a bit shaky on the vocals but considering a lot of the singers pick songs that suck [give or take artists I'm fine with] and she went with Gaga...I respect her so much. Thank you, Briana.

Tenth, George Horga Jr. whose main deal is being of Romanian heritage. No T, No Shade, but there has to be something else there. He auditions with "Treasure" by Bruno Mars. Personally he was way too subdued and/or not captivating enough vocally. Being chick magnet bait aside, he defaults to Cee-Lo and is pretty much his Dez Duron.

The montage of boring artists that make it is then relayed...OK then; if you're not boring enough for your Battle Rounds, see you then. Until then, NEXT!

Finally, Preston Pohl, a Christian Rock guitarist turned bar singer [bills, people.] He auditioned with "Electric Feel" by MGMT. He didn't impress me vocally; too scruffy in the vocals for my liking. Adam, Blake and Cee-Lo engaged in another "man-fight" for him. After a brief Texas Hip-Hop history courtesy of Cee-Lo and Blake being confused over DJ Screw having been real [and Cee-Lo forgetting he's no longer with us. R.I.P.] Preston ends up picking Adam as his coach.

All in all, I admit; this is the most lackluster group I've ever seen in a Blind Audition in Voice U.S. history. The strongest based on song choice with vocals and not picking Blake was Briana Cuoco (This isn't MrSwearword V.S. Everyone for nothing). Still, it isn't AI or XF US which has been DOA since their S1. Aren't initials fun?

Next up for scrutiny, part 4 of the Blind Auditions.

Friday, September 27, 2013

ALL MALE (Music) REVIEW: "What You're Looking For" by Cody Belew

After shameless pimping on Twitter and a little bit through here, finally...I can now review "What You're Looking For"; the post Voice debut effort of Cody Belew. [Note: this is an LP I'm reviewing.]

Intended to be a dance friendly pop record ["Bangin' ass record" in his words], What You're Looking For is intended to be all golden rollerskates and fabulousness rolled into a very sleek package.

Here's how my review will work. All of the tracks will be judged individually; cohesion will determine the grade of the album later. Obvious factors like singing ability and the instrumental of the song will be included as well.

# of tracks- 10

# of interludes- 4

Total time of album- 41:46

Interludes will be acknowledged with an "( I )" next to the number of the track that has the interlude.

( I )1. "The Call"- For someone who claimed to be an elderly black lady in a past life, Belew is giving some Tamar Braxton level sass, honey.

2. "Just Come On In"- The album kicks in with some hardcore/aggressive percussion. Already sold until the song has its synth parts of the instrumental remind me of "Move Ya Body" by Nina Sky. That aside, his persona is the one taking the wheel of this song. While not terrible, Cody has done better than this. This does serve as the type of uptempo selection some of his fans insisted on him having. So it's an aggressive Catch-22; more or less.

3. "What You're Looking For"- This song is some Donna Summer realness (I want to be able to rollerskate after listening to this; or be on a reboot of Soul Train with him as the musical guest. Whichever is easier.) If Belew had to describe himself with a song, this is it. He's so in his element on this cut as this is some of his cleanest singing to date. It's totally the album brief and one of the best tracks on the album.

4. "We Are Ready"- I couldn't help but sense a mix of Gospel and New Jack Swing with the sexual impurity of "Miami Vice" (Yes, I can say/write some eye-popping profound shit sometimes. No, I refuse to change that.) A bit of a high concept sound that can be made with other sounds...that involve creaking; and a bed; if I need to spell it out, you have issues. A nice song that was worthy to be on the album.

( I )5. "Power Hour"- The crackly 40s/50s radio style of this interlude plays into the throwback/vintage appreciation this album has.

6. "Great Expectations"- This is Southern style funk not attempted in an album since Outkast's 2006 effort, Idlewild and its song "Idlewild Blue (Don'tchu Worry 'Bout Me)". Really immersive funk that in a church devoted solely to music like this, this song would be the equivalent of the Lord's Prayer; no service goes without this being recited. The fact he attempted a sound like this shows how diverse he can really be.

7. "You Make Me Wanna"- This just so happens to be the lead single off of this album. Released around late July/early August, the song has Belew's charisma and sex appeal ooze from the song. Reminiscent of "Faith" era George Michael but with twice the sex appeal, Belew's debut post Voice single was surprisingly minced by fans of his on YouTube. Their consensus was that the tempo and the song didn't live up to his tenure on The Voice. I call bullshit on that. This song has everything the viewing audience of The Voice came to know of Cody. Signature singing, personality and a hint at an inner sex monster is fully represented in this track. This and the title track are the best songs so far.

8. "You Gotta"- The song has a very 90s R&B flair to it. Reminiscent of a slower SWV song, this cut is one his most alluring efforts. This joins the title track and "You Make Me Wanna" as the best songs of the album so far.

( I )9. "Sugar (PT. I)"- This one breaks my heart. I think this should've been a full song. This had the sexiest instrumental on the album and personally, it felt like a waste of a II part interlude. Still, his inner sex monster knows how to take the wheel.

10. "It Feels Good (To Love You)"- At first, I thought this would be a really haunting/captivating song set at a dangerously slow tempo [What I mean is, think to when I posted songs by Kelis that need to be on The Voice; "Suspended" works only because it's so captivating. Anything less than that and it would've sucked]. Then it registered as a power ballad. Oh good Lord, this had me worried but then I remembered that even though it's not a "Your Eyes Are Fireflies" ballad, slower songs seem to be his strongest set. It played out better than I hoped, ,but flirting with the power ballad line isn't something I would suggest Belew do personally.

11. "Give Me Your Love"- A distinctive groove is est. very early on, but I couldn't quite discern if it was late 80s or mid 90s inspired. Despite that, this song also lets Belew's inner sex monster take the wheel and it serves very well as it blends in with the other cuts on the album. Very nice singing and this is mastered subtlety with just enough hints of carnal know-how.

12. "This Is The End"- A "Your Eyes Are Fireflies" type of ballad; as in, it is motherfucking glorious. I seriously imagined this as Cody's reworking of Adele's "Someone Like You". The piano workings of this are something of a precious beauty. Vocally, this is one of his strongest songs if not the strongest of the second half of this album.

( I )13. "Sugar (PT. II)"- Ugh...another heartbreaking reminder that this should've been a full song. At least there's a "Behind The Music" feel to it as he gets his relatable/professorial side on. The word "superstar" has never sounded better.

14. "Down and Dirty"- The spoken part of the intro felt like a bit of a misfire for Belew ("Traitor! Burn him!" Let me explain...) it sounded like a Madonna intro concept c. Hard Candy. Nothing particularly distinctive that services Belew well, which shouldn't happen. As the song progresses it seems like this is his sex monster driving again, but with Belew tightening the leash and being in more blatant control of it. Then it ends with a pleasantly bombastic M.I.A. c. "Bucky Done Gun" shouting fit. Talk about a way to end the album on a high note.

OVERALL Grade: A- If it wasn't for personal irks of the slight hints at miscasting and "Sugar" not being a full song, this would've garnered an A. However, it is undeniable that the sheer versatility of varied decade inspired songs, kickass singing and Belew's sex appeal being highlighted more than once that What You're Looking For lives up to its name.

**************FRIENDLY REMINDER/SHAMELESS PLUG***************

Apart from albums, the online store for offers t-shirts and pillowcases and the main website has tour dates to see if Belew will be all up in your hood soon!

Follow him on Twitter @CodyBelew ; ; and see his duet with Meghan Linsey "Baby, Get Out" on his YouTube channel.

Also, check out his version of "We Are The World" known as "Say Love" which he did for Heifer International. Unless otherwise noted, the 0.99 cent song has its proceeds go right to Heifer in its fight to eradicate hunger and poverty.

Yes, I just shamelessly plugged ALL of that. No, I am not a "stan". Yes, episodes 3 and 4 of The Voice are still being recapped here. Chill out.

ALL MALE (Music) REVIEW: "Paradise" by Cody Belew

Terrible pun aside, guess what...after a complete luck of the draw I was able to acquiesce both of Cody Belew's albums thus far; Paradise being his first effort long before his tenure of The Voice S3 and What You're Looking For, the album made intended to capitalize his newfound fame from the show. ["WYLF" will have its own review in the next post.]

Paradise was his initial effort made in 2010 that until now was vaulted off from mass consumption. The intended genre was Americana/Singer Songwriter type of music.

Here's how my review will work. All of the tracks will be judged individually; cohesion will determine the grade of the album later. Obvious factors like singing ability and the instrumental of the song will be included as well.

# of tracks- 7 [Paradise is an EP {Extended Play} as opposed to an LP {Long Play}]

# of interludes- 0

Total time of album- 31:24

1. "Gypsy Spell"- Starting with a harmonica inspired fusion of Blues and Country (Without that goddamn portmanteau Grace Askew ["Lana Del Opry"] coined on S4 of The Voice) the album reveals Belew's signature singing was always consistent. The song is about him trying to woo someone to be his mattress mambo partner...err love interest. Either way, he's much to handsome to be the one longing for the other : P. Facetiousness aside, the song is good for what it is; really simple, easy listening whilst imagining walking around a town no bigger than a recycling bin. It's song that immerses the listener in his world beautifully.

2. "Sideways Lover"- Keeping in mind this is his initial effort, B.T.V. [Before The Voice], this is a really subtle track from a man who claimed to have been " elderly black lady in a past life" (His words, not mine. Remember, he knew how to give TELEVISION along with singing his ass off.) Even though it's a more subtle cut, in Belew's case his register allows subtle songs like this to showcase how soothing his voice can be if used right.

3. "Your Eyes Are Fireflies"- This is the strongest track off the EP. The thing with his fans and even some of the direction he took on The Voice, his persona is almost something to typecast him into really uptempo numbers. Ballads like "Your Eyes Are Fireflies" are actually where he shines the brightest (Remember; ballads like this song are his best; any "Bleeding Love" type crap and I'd shiv the bastard that would dare give him a song like that.) This is some of the best piano work I've ever heard in recorded music. It blends so well with his voice, that if I were emotionally unstable (Along with my just self-aware "kooky" unstable) I'd be crying at its beauty. Do I need to mention I found his voice hypnotic and soothing? Well, I did anyway.

4. "Breaking My Back"- A touch more uptempo (At least to ME, goddamnit) than the 3 previous songs, this track kind of has an "Irreplaceable Complex"* that I had no idea he was capable of...

*"Irreplaceable Complex" ;(n.)(s.)- A song with a deceptively sweet aura
whilst the singer/group in question is actually saying "FUCK the 18
generations of your ancestors!" Most common in breakup songs.*

Despite the complex, his voice seems too subdued on this song. On a technical thing, this could be in relation to the languish turned catharsis of relieving yourself of a lover who ain't shit (I sound so eloquent sometimes, it's actually motherfucking repulsive). On the other hand, I love the side of him that just goes for high notes and make The Chipmunks sound like Morgan Freeman on quaaludes by comparison. No song of his should hinder that voice, is all I'm saying (While sounding like a crazier person.)

5. Untitled- "GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRL" why does this song have no title? O_o That aside, the violins [If it's violas, let me know] in this song are played beautifully. However, his voice sounds subdued in this song on technical terms as well. This time, it could reflect on the whole "falls on deaf ears" complex as it sounds like he's in a pain that's borderline consuming him. While this is a ballad, I must remind you, it's "Your Eyes Are Fireflies" type of ballads that are his strongest because they allow him to be the strong vocalist he goddamn well is. On a positive note, this does highlight his emotional connection to the songs ("Didn't he exclusively write all of these songs?" Yes, goddamn you, but that's besides the point.) This type of connection to songs is rare in new artists worth their weight. Belew is damn lucky with every musical gift he has.

6. "Love Song"- This song marks the resurgence of his blatant vocal projection. The groove of the song is really simple but enjoyable. Maybe this song/EP is something YouTube sensation, Steve Grand ["All-American Boy" & "Stay"] should take note of. By now "Your Eyes Are Fireflies" won best/strongest track, but this song is a very close silver medal. Great singing, fairly uptempo; just really easy/relatable listening music.

7. "Paradise"- This is the high concept track off of an otherwise easy listening EP. The beginning evokes the instrumental to an esoteric spaghetti western but without the tackiness of a spaghetti western. Whatever the masculine equivalent of alluring is, this song definitely displays it as his voice is breathtaking in this song. Like a male version of a Siren of Homer's Odyssey, Belew's vocals are the most consistent here as his register just exudes male allure. This ties with "Love Song" as very worthy silver medal in terms of best/strongest song of the album.

Despite how great this is, creatively this may have stunted 2010 Cody. The Voice S3 Cody had a lot more versatility and range albeit through shifting control of himself, Cee-Lo [maybe producers] and his fans [who insisted he sing "Somebody to Love" by Queen; for once: No T, No Shade]. I honestly can't help but think that if things fell his way around the time this EP was made and he was signed to a label [Maybe Captiol Records or Cherrytree Records {Interscope}] he may not have been pleased creatively. Remember, this is subjective criticism here; anything I say comes from me.
Either way, Paradise is a surprisingly immersive EP that shows that he's had talent on his side all along. With this being released for the masses along with his post Voice effort, What You're Looking For, available for purchase through (Shameless plug) maybe he'll finally have commercial pull [more or less] to back him up.

OVERALL Grade: A- given the slight irking of subdued vocals, Paradise is a well decorated invitation into a theatrical world run by the man himself.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Voice U.S. S5 Recap: Baptism of Fire II: Electric Sequeloo

Archetype terrible sequel title aside ["Boots From Aldo" is the alternative title], tonight marked round 2 of the Blind Auditions for The Voice U.S. S5. Emotions were felt, teams continued to be built (As X-Tina continues to try her hardest to not come in 4th place for her fourth collective season) and NBC programming that didn't suck made the air. See how that made the episode what it is...

Let's play rough and get it on!

First up to journey with the sword the old man gave them was Jacquie Lee who was serving some (Dr. from Poltergeist voice, everyone) Caroline Glaser meets Patch Adams spirit realness. She auditioned with "Back to Black" by Amy Winehouse. Initially she looked screwed but got X-Tina and Blake to turn. After some boot shopping tips she picks X-Tina as her coach (And I REALLY hope Cee-Lo isn't a foot fetishist. O_O) Personally, she was a good vocalist for being 16 years old (Sorry, is this The Voice or an after school program?) but isn't brimming with superb talent yet. Marketed properly she could be the next teen star turned provocateur (HAAAAAAAAAAY Miley!)

Second to attempt to defeat Sauron was Barry Black. He's originally from American Samoa who now lounges around in Vegas. He auditioned with "What You Won't Do for Love" by Bobby Caldwell. After doing the mouth trumpet, his audition proves to be good. Like a Bruno Mars type with a slightly deeper voice. Mr. and Mr. Shevine* turned and had a cute "marital" tiff. Eventually, Barry picked Adam much to Blake's chagrin. *DIS IS A CLAIMER...despite the homoerotic bond betwixt them, Adam and Blake are engaged to a lingerie model and married to Adam...err Miranda Lambert respectively.*

Third to seek out Soul Edge was Mike Unser. Like every other pending musician, his parents divorced and overcame adversity. Incidentally he performed in a Christian band before coming to the show. He auditioned with "Dirty Little Secret" by the All-American Rejects. Yikes, this was God-awful. He became another S5 reject but kudos to the show for attracting the courteous rejects. Those that ask for help and not curse them to the belly of hell (Where Cassadee Pope's new album Frame By Frame will be having its premiere party)

Fourth to try their hand at removing Excalibur from the stone (Fine...the gag stops here) was Destinee Quinn. A hippie looking chick who performed in biker bars and worked with famed shock rocker/adorable mental case, Alice Cooper. She auditioned with "Cowboy Take Me Away" by The Dixie Chicks. A country song by a hippie looking chick who performed in biker bars and worked with Alice Cooper (Sorry, is this The Voice or Cards Against Humanity?) She got X-Tina and Cee-Lo to turn but she chose X-Tina to be her coach. Good luck with your hippie version of Amber Carrington, X-Tina; Blake may steal her from you if you screw up.

Fifth up, Cole Vosbury who despite his fedora was allowed to audition for the show. It is called The Voice so truth in advertising, I guess. He auditioned with The Jeffersons theme song "Movin' On Up" [and won best song choice EVER]. He defaulted to Cee-Lo mainly because he sang the motherfucking theme song to The Jeffersons. If he's lucky he'll move on up to a place where they ban fedoras from the public eye.

Then, Holly Henry took the stage and expressed being a touch shy. It wasn't Caroline from last episode bad, but it's Sky Ferreira nervous. She auditioned with "The Scientist". Her voice was too subdued for my liking, but she got all 4 coaches to turn for her. The coaches were enamored by how sweet her voice was but honestly but I can't get with this one. I give her credit for having repeated instances of "Wind In The Hair" moments *golf claps*. She ends up picking Blake as her coach giving him his first artist of night #2.

Next, Sammy C. revealed he was diagnosed with alopecia when he was young. As someone who had alopecia areata in middle school, this one got personal favors. When Hip-Hop was revealed to be his main inspiration, I was wondering what his frame of reference was. He auditioned with "Where Is The Love?" by the Black Eyed Peas. A decent frame of reference for someone who's 16 ( this The Voice, or The Babysitter's Club? Seriously.) He sounded like he was making fun of Glee (Not entirely bad, but that's personal.) and it worked against him as he became another reject [be it a very courteous reject].

Then a reject montage emerged...oh so sweet and oh so brief. Anywho, NEXT!

After that, scooter tour guide [it pays the bills, y'all] Austin Jencks took the stage with the emotional turmoil of his father's suicide as inspiration to move on. He auditioned with "Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd and was sweet sounding but not exactly captivating personally. Cee-Lo and Blake turned around and proceeded to adorably fight each other over the self-described Country/Folk singer. If that wasn't a spoiler, he picked Blake to be his coach. Bonus points for looking like he can build a cabin with his bare hands for a lover.

Then every childhood formed in the 90s died from nostalgia overload when E.G. Daily...yes, Tommy Pickles and Buttercup from the Powerpuff Girls auditioned. She auditioned with "Breathe" by Faith Hill. She was flawless and had Cee-Lo and Blake turn. She may have chosen Blake to coach her but Tommy Pickles/Buttercup is on The Voice now. YAY!

Now that the inner child in me is playing in the corner, next up was Jonny Gray who despite the Jesus hair has his own holiday and served in the Air Force. Who'd've thunk, eh? He auditioned with "All These Things That I've Done" by The Killers. He has his sights on Adam as a coach and got him and Cee-Lo to turn for him. Personally the vibrato was kind of hypnotizing but I have to see what he does next as the season progresses. Then he diverts missions and chooses Cee-Lo as his coach. Scrub the barracks, Jonny! Just kidding; thanks for your service and for looking like the most effective Pantene ad ever.

Finally, Tessanne Chin from Kingston, Jamaica revealed her love of reggae and rock...and looked like HRFH...err Judith Hill's mama. O_O She auditioned with "Try" by P!nk and was able to get 4 chairs to turn in about 3-7 seconds (Much like the overrated backup singer last season...O_o) I defer to this tweet I made...

"Nicely done, Tessanne but you still look like Judith Hill's mama. #AllTAllShade #ThisIsTheVoice"

She ends up picking Adam and I hope that she can actually project when she sings. *shaaaaaaaaaaaaade*

All in all; younguns were let out of school for this show, Mr. and Mr. Shevine still aren't "divorced" and HRFH may have resurfaced in Tessanne...O_o Thanks for the experience NBC!

By the way, I still want songs by Lana Del Rey, Janelle Monae, Kelis and Lady Gaga to be performed on the show. It wouldn't kill people to have some gravitas on this show.

Up next for scrutiny...part 3 of the Blind Auditions.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Voice U.S. S5 Recap: The Blind Leading The Blind...Auditions

See? I told you my titles would be a little more funny/bitchy. Either way, tonight marked the return of the televised Dutch import that the U.S. has received with open arms (And no, this is not about the non-existent High Times TV channel). This is what occurred, made me insane and love NBC for not cancelling this glorious program.

Play rough and let's get it on!

After the coaches gave a "Reunion Tour" version of "I Love Rock & Roll" by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, The S5 baptism of fire began with Kat Robichaud who auditioned with "I've Got The Music In Me". Personality wise and stage antics wise, this chick had the nerve to try and copy Michelle "Amazing Human" Chamuel (Gurl NO; NO; Gurl NO). She somehow got everyone but Adam to turn (I completely understand. Her audition was not THAT good.) She ended up picking Cee-Lo as her coach and he nabs artist #1 for his team.

Next up in the line of fire, Caroline Pannell who had the nervous system of a leaf. (All T, All Shade). She auditioned with "Anything Could Happen" by Ellie Goulding (If The Voice were called The Song Choice, she'd barely get a chair to turn around). Despite the nerves, she was very good as I was reminded of other hauntingly dainty contestants Melanie Martinez and (Dr. from Poltergeist voice, everyone) Caroline Glaser. She had to pick between Cee-Lo and Blake and chose Cee-Lo giving him artist #2 of his team.

Third up for their trial in the Court of Public Opinion was Donna Allen who toured with Gloria Estefan & the Miami Sound Machine for years. She sang "You Are So Beautiful" with the justice it deserved. Granted her hair made me think of the lead singer of Parliament Funkadelic...O_O. Adam and Christina were adorably bitching at each other for her place on either team and ended up picking Adam. Then a glorious straddling bear hug moment occured, thus cementing Donna as artist #1 for the Maroon 5 lead singer/half of "Shevine" (Yes, jokes about the homoerotic bond between Adam and Blake will be made throughout the season. No there is nothing you can do about it except embrace it).

Fourth, gravy sweating Texan Jake Worthington who sang "Keep Your Hands To Yourself" by Georgia Satellites.*FRIENDLY REMINDER: Not every person in the state of Texas likes country music. Thinking that makes you no better than those in Texas who like country music : P* He seemed like Blake material (Understatement of the Century nominee), but ended up being the first S5 reject. Boo-hoo -_- but at least he was friendly and asked for advice on how to improve. Oh well; NEXT!

Fifth, rugby player/bagel boy/singer Matthew Schuler (Best job combo ever.) He auditioned with "Cough Syrup" which got 4 chairs in about 1-4 seconds. The coaches proceeded to lose their shit and fight for this guy and admittedly I understood why. He was very good with that song, but I thought it'd be a process to get him. Oh well, he had 4 to choose from and he ended up picking Christina as his coach giving her artist #1 for her team. [*FUN FACT: His Dad's church lost the lease and ended up in his basement. The church is still going strong; you can sleep at night.*]
Sixth, a self described "Amy Winehouse/Jessie J" singer/Hip-Hop dance teacher Nic Hawk took the stage (And amazingly gave "Running of The Bulls/Pamplona Eleganza" realness with the type of nose piercing Kelis & Lady Gaga have). He auditioned with "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops)" by Blu Cantrell (I LOVE him for this song choice). Adam and Cee-Lo ended up turning for this VoteForTheWorst realness and Nic picked Adam. Then again, when he said Adam was good-looking, this kind of spelled everything out. Let's be's his charisma that helps because his singing wasn't that up to snuff.

Oh the reject was cute and had younguns learn the hard way that it really is about The Voice! NEXT!

Matthew Brea then took the stage with "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5. For one of the younguns [at 15] he is rather good. Experience could shape his voice a lot. Too bad he ended up as a reject but got a hug from Christina who pretty much paraphrased the "Paris Is Burning" nerve speech. Cee-Lo was pissed at himself once he found out he was a potential child prodigy and from Atlanta, Georgia. How upsetting was this? Cee-Lo removed his sunglasses, shed a tear and went backstage to send his "Don't give up, come back for Season 6" speech (But forgot to mention that S6 is when Usher and Shakira make a return).
Next up was Shelbie Z. (No I am not making that up, but pretty sure an 80s cartoon character had that name.) Her beef involved hamburgers and cruel size jokes (Like the one in that line). Dear Shelbie and other thicker milkshakes* [*thicker milkshake=nice way of saying big girls*] use the logic I do about my size; I'm not fat. I'm just easier to spot in a crowd. Her audition song was "Here For The Party" and got Blake, Christina & Cee-Lo to turn. A country girl that sang a country song picked the country artist to coach her; REDUNDANCY y'all. Blake did end up with his first artist so that's good only on a technical term.

Then, Josh Logan came around reminding people that unprotected sex derails singing careers. Sorry, but every contestant under 35 with kid needs to realize kids derail singing careers. He auditioned with "Too Close" by Alex Clare and sounded a bit too much like him. Adam, X-Tina and Blake turned around for him (Thank you Cee-Lo; thank you so very much.) After acting all awkward around the homoerotic bond betwixt Adam and Blake (Welcome to The Voice, Josh.) he picks X-Tina to be his coach. She now has 2 artists that'll go home in the live shows first. on her team.
Delvin Choice then took the stage with his [no joke] Parliament Funkadelic meets Janelle Monae hair (He called it "The Lobster", but I called it Parliament Funkadelic meets Janelle Monae after getting it styled by Jill Scott who was inspired by Fraggle Rock). He auditioned with "Closer" by Ne-Yo. He didn't totally suck but his hair is just awful. Hair karma worked against him as he became another S5 reject. I'd say there's always next season but I don't want him going all Sanjaya Malakar on us with awful hair and mediocre at best singing.

Finally James Wolpert who once attended Carnegie Mellon*, auditioned with "Love Interrupted" by Jack White and got all 4 coaches to turn. [*FUN Fact: After dropping out of Carnegie Mellon he got a job at an Apple store in Pittsburgh. I thought GeekSquad but I can't help feel I was pretty damn close.*] He wasn't stellar but I wasn't thinking "Kewpie Doll is back in another form" (This isn't Mr. Swearword V.S. Everyone for nothing.) The coaches lost their shit fighting each other and he picked Adam. Mr. Shevine...err Levine got the final artist of Night 1.

Overall, no one stood out in this audition; 2 people almost scalped the lead singer of Parliament Funkadelic and NBC proved why they beat the Amazing Race for the Emmy for Best Reality Program.

Up next for scrutiny, part 2 of the Blind Auditions.

P.S.- Would it kill the contestants to know songs by Lana Del Rey, Janelle Monae or Kelis? (Really any artist or band that doesn't suck?)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

W.W.C.I.I.T.M.I. Post 11: Kelis

This is a series dedicated to women who despite success in the U.S. Music Industry, have est. a very complicated image for themselves.

Round 11 of this series goes to criminally underrated [yet fairly known "dairy product endorser"] R&B songbird extraordinaire, Kelis. It's no secret on this blog and at my Twitter account that I appreciate Kelis. I own copies of her albums, Kaleidoscope and Flesh Tone. However, she's kind of been screwed out of a proper career in the U.S. outside of her songs "Milkshake" and "Bossy" ft. Too $hort.

Personal information RE: Kelis is a touch limited since there's no Behind The Music dedicated to her (Yet they dedicate an episode to the likes of Nicole Scherzinger -_-). Interviews on the PBS program, Tavis Smiley, and the U.K. outlets of Later Live...with Jools Holland and BBC Radio One persona Trevor Nelson reveal that Kelis grew up to a jazz musician father and a mother who dabbled more or less in catering [anything I missed, you are more than welcome to add in the comments].
Leaving home at 16 and beginning her career with Virgin Records, she est. a relationship with future production superstars, The Neptunes (One of the things that Pharrell Williams did before getting involved in "Blurred Lines" with the creepy uncle of music known as Robin Thicke.)

Her debut effort, Kaleidoscope, presented Kelis as an avant-garde creation discovered on the "4th Sector" by Pharrell and co. The album would spawn the singles “Caught Out There”, “Good Stuff” and “Get Along With You”. The first being "Caught Out There"; this is the song known for its hook...


It peaked on the Hot 100 at #54 and at #9 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. Despite a Top 10 R&B song made from it, the chart placement began the troubling fact that Kelis has been doing better abroad then in the U.S. ["Caught Out There" went to #4 in the U.K.]. The next single, "Good Stuff" failed to chart in the U.S. altogether, but gave her another successful U.K. charting at #19. Then, her 3rd and last single from the album, "Get Along With You" fared better in the U.S. but wasn't a major impact in the way "Caught Out There" had been. It peaked at #57 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts and at #19 on the Hot Dance Club Play charts.
Kaleidoscope had garnered critical favors, but found its commercial success in the U.K. where it was certified Gold. In the U.S., the album peaked at #144 on the Billboard 200 and #23 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. In positive lights, Kelis does have versatility as in the span of 3 songs charted on the Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and the Hot Dance Club Play charts.

Cut to 2001 and her sophomore effort Wanderland. Continuing with the experimental edge of R&B, Wanderland was intended to build upon Kelis' critical success Kaleidoscope gave her. Like her debut, Pharrell and co. were behind the album's sound. In case any U.S. readers are unfamiliar with the effort, you can partially blame Virgin Records for that. Kelis claims that the label hated the album for U.S. audiences. As a result, the album was slated for only international markets [where sadly, the album floundered].
The one known song from Wanderland was "Young, Fresh n' New". The instrumental of the song took on its own life in about every VH1 "Biggest Feud-a-palooza"* (*Not terribly far off from the titles of the actual programs.*) The song was a minor success in the U.K. but did see the music video light of day [at least in Canada on the MuchMusic circuit]. The songs "Flash Back" and "Popular Thug" did see U.S. exposure as "Flash Back" was re-titled "Flashback" for her 3rd effort and "Popular Thug" had Nas replace Pusha T for The Neptunes' only album, The Neptunes Present:...Clones.

Cut to 2003 and her 3rd effort, Tasty. By then, she had left Virgin Records and had signed with Arista Records [because Pharrell had est. the boutique label Star Trak Entertainment]. Her misgivings with her "experimental"/"edgy" efforts lead to this being her presented as an atypical R&B chanteuse. Her career skyrocketed with the album's lead single, "Milkshake". Instrumental by The Neptunes? Check; Scintillating song title that was the source of endless jokes about what the "Milkshake" refers to? Check; Performances on SNL, The Spike VGA's and even Last Call with Carson Daly? Check.
The point is, Kelis had attained commercial success in the U.S. for the first time when the song peaked at #3 on the Hot 100. However, someone at Star Trak or Arista mismanaged the fuck out of her [or something] and didn't capitalize on her success properly.
OK; supposedly, at the time of the release of the next single, "Trick Me", Arista went under and she was shipped over to Jive Records. Either way, somebody who isn't Kelis screwed her out of a successive Top 5 song in the U.S. "Trick Me" found international success and wasn't even released officially in the U.S. other than an appearance in the video game Saints Row 2 and bubbling under the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at #107.
The 3rd and 4th singles "Millionaire" ft. Andre 3000 and "In Public" ft. Nas respectively weren't as lucky to bubble under any chart and floundered in the States. Tasty itself peaked at #27.

By 2006, she had officially become part of LaFace Records [who was under Jive Records]. Her fourth effort, Kelis Was Here, continued the more "obvious" R&B route she had been pushed in but still intended to sell Kelis' signature style. The lead single is the second biggest hit she's had in the U.S. to date in Hot 100 terms; however, it's a song I cannot personally forgive her for as it does nothing to justify her glorious voice. "Bossy" ft. Too $hort would become one of the most sold ringtone songs in history selling well over 800,000 units. The song itself peaked at #16 on the Hot 100. Her next single from the album "Blindfold Me" ft. Nas would flounder in the U.S. peaking at #91 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts.
International audiences were treated to her best song from the album while the U.S. was screwed with "Bossy" ringtones. "Lil Star" ft. Cee-Lo Green would peak at #1 on the U.K. R&B Singles charts. For all the flaws "Bossy" had (And still has) Kelis Was Here peaked at #10, making it the only album of hers to peak in the Top 10.

Cut to 2010 and her fifth effort, Flesh Tone. By then, everything had changed for her. She was no longer married to Nas, she had given birth to her son Knight, she had left LaFace/Jive and joined Interscope by way of Music Group. Flesh Tone saw a sort of return to form as it was sort of reminiscent of her avant-garde/experimental era with Kaleidoscope. The album's lead single "Acapella", did service her a #1 hit albeit on the Hot Dance Club Songs charts [Technically, "Milkshake" did this as well, but I'm not counting that; why? Because in a sense...FUCK "Milkshake".]
The follow up single and my favorite song in recorded history, "4th of July (Fireworks)" [despite being screwed out of the Top 100] did become the second Top 5 hit Kelis never had in any of her previous works in the U.S....albeit on the Hot Dance Club Songs charts where it peaked at #4.
The 3rd and 4th singles "Scream" and "Brave" failed to make any U.S. charts and even struggled internationally. "Scream" went to #18 in Belgium and #168 in the U.K/ while "Brave" went to #123 in the U.K. Flesh Tone would peak at #48.

In a sense, what makes Kelis one of many W.W.C.I.I.T.M.I. is a case of bad luck/mismanagement by her record labels. She may have attained success through "earworms" such as "Milkshake" and "Bossy" but until Flesh Tone, she wasn't even close to consecutive Top 5 singles on any charts.
However, I'd be remiss not to mention her sense of intuition as to what single comes first from her efforts. In a VEVO “webisode” {portmanteaux of web episode} when briefly describing the lead single to Flesh Tone, “Acapella” she hinted at possessing a knack for what to release for her first single. With “Caught Out There”, “Milkshake”, “Bossy” and “Acapella” itself, it seems Kelis knows the pattern to lead single success. How any of her A&R/management couldn't hone her intuitive skills is just baffling.
It isn't like she's struggled for work outside of her solo efforts. In 2011, she worked with Calvin Harris on the song "Bounce" off of his latest effort, 18 Months. Despite the fact that this was the lead single from the album (And it had a Las Vegas video shoot) it only went to #22 on the U.S. Hot Dance Club Songs charts (It was more successful in the U.K. where it reached the Top 10, but screw U.K. charts at the moment.)

Kelis has also expressed that she has had continuous conversations/discussions over her ethnicity. On Tavis Smiley, she expressed that the industry " so segregated". In a radio interview with OutQ personality Larry Flick, she expressed that she never had a "Hip-Hop" audience. Flick queried whether or not her song "Acapella" would alienate any of her Hip-Hop or R&B fans. *She essentially responded that she never strictly had a Hip-Hop audience, but that it was mainly radio stations that branded her that way. She could sing the same song as any other singer, but due to her being Black [technically she's of Black, Puerto Rican & Chinese lineage] it was labeled Hip-Hop/R&B anyway*
*Please note I am merely paraphrasing what she said in response to Larry Flick. The sound byte of this can be found on YouTube under the SiriusXM channel*
If this much racial issues had any hand in this, then Kelis' place in the music industry as one of many W.W.C.I.I.T.M.I. is based out of a victimized circumstance [for lack of better phrasing].

She is slated to release her upcoming sixth album in November, with the tentative title FOOD. This could be a slight homage to her being a certified chef [Le Cordon Bleu and everything with a specialty as a saucier. (No; her specialty was not milkshakes, you asshole)]. Slight issue comes with distribution/label. Meaning, she is no longer with Interscope, but instead on the label Federal Prism. T_T So, there's a possibility that she could be screwed again. However, that may not be the case as the lead single, "Jerk Ribs" proves that she does have the potential to be big in the U.S. So far, FOOD seems it's going for a 70s vibe of some kind; really groove/ebb and flow centered dance music. Again, this is basing everything from "Jerk Ribs".
However, that would require the U.S. audience to stop by her yard again on the condition that they want Jerk Ribs with their Milkshake on the 4th of July. Movie critic Gene Shalit would have my head with that string of puns. : P
 *RANDOM Fun Fact Time: Kelis has also appeared on Top Chef: Masters as a "Quickfire Challenge" guest judge and has done voiceover work on the weird as hell U.S. redubbing of the weird as hell movie Volcano High and Freaknik:The Musical as "Tyra Banks" and "Oprah".*

Next up; the woman who can use some Motivation to compete with the Queen Bey.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Pending September Follies & Such

Sorry for not updating the blog more. I'm in school for the fall, but I do have the following confirmed and pending...


- S5 Recaps of The Voice U.S.- The recaps will have funnier titles or Diet Coke level pun-friendly titles. The lovable bitchiness of the recaps won't lose their place here.

- Post 11 of the W.W.C.I.I.T.M.I.- Here's the twist...usually at the end of these posts I leave an obvious reference as to who's next up. In Post 10, I left a message with an "!" in it; Well, despite the "!" I'm not covering P!nk. She has nothing complicated to her enough for the series. "So who is it, Mr. Swearword?" Bitch, I'm not telling you here : P Keep an eye out for that one.


- The Review of Cody Belew's debut effort- If I'm lucky enough to acquiesce* a copy of his debut effort, What You're Looking For [out September 3rd in physical copy form; shameless plug] I will review it (*Acquiesce = acquire; retrieve; purchase; a word you never gave a fuck about before reading my blog, etc.*)

Anything else, I will tell you about it as I'm writing that post in question.

Hope this helps est. what I'm up to with the blog & such.