The Voice

Best birthday in over five years.

Okay, first things first:

Saturday, the band performed at the local VFW Post, a gig we weren’t expecting to have, but enjoyed immensely nonetheless. The show went well – the crowd was smaller than I would have liked considering how much they were paying the band, but the audience that was there was incredibly supportive and enthusiastic. There had been a few cautious looks when we started loading in all of our equipment – evidently, we brought far more gear than most of the bands playing there – and we’d suffered through a little teasing leading up to our start time – we were brought in to specifically not play country music – but once we kicked into our sound check, the naysayers’ eyebrows shot up and the smiles started appearing. The show was already going well when I announced to the crowd that we weren’t just the entertainment, we were fellow veterans – Paul, Dave, and I had all put our lives on the line for our country; from that moment on, we could do no wrong. I lost track of the handshakes and hugs I received the rest of the night; the free beer and Tequila shots wasn’t bad, either. All in all, it was a very nice night, and a great warm-up for this weekend’s big show.

Amanda F Palmer - I'd tell you what the "F" stood for, but then my sister would never read my blog.

The Lady Fair’s newest girl crush and my new muse, the lovely and talented Amanda Palmer, is in Dallas mixing the new album she just finished recording in Australia. Don’t know why she picked our fair burg and I don’t care – she’s here, she’s promised a ninja gig, and my wife and I are fairly hyperventilating at the thought of breathing the same air as AFP. And if that wasn’t awesome enough, her husband will be joining her for a while here in Big D, the incredible Neil Gaiman.

(When the Lady Fair and I first started dating, I wanted to share all the things I was passionate about with her, and at the time my biggest hobby was comic books. I took her down to the comic book store, showed her around, made sure she saw it was more than just funny books – I introduced her to Heavy Metal, Elf*Quest, and Love & Rockets, but by chance a new series from this unknown British guy had just started a couple of months earlier, a comic that was equal parts adventure, fantasy, horror, and gothic romance. The Lady Fair fell in love with me, then The Sandman, and then finally Neil Gaiman, and I’d be jealous, but I fell in love with Morpheus and Mr. Gaiman, as well.)

Christina's so hot, she has others do her pointing for her.

And now, finally, the true subject of this post, NBC’s The Voice.

I don’t do reality shows – I did the whole Survivor thing when it first came out, then it eventually got tired and old, and I haven’t seen it in years; and I’ll watch reruns of Top Shot on the History Channel if I’m home sick during the week; but I avoid most of the reality TV show nonsense, and I have never seen American Idol. Not once. Not ever. The show has an age maximum, a maximum I maxed out years ago, so I had no interest. I didn’t watch America’s Got Talent because it felt like an American Idol retread; I didn’t watch the first season of The Voice because it felt like yet another retread. I don’t do reality TV – my life is real enough.

So I’m home a couple of weekends ago, flipping channels like guys do waiting for the Lady Fair to get home from work, and I end up on the E Channel’s repeat marathon of the blind auditions for The Voice. Now this is the hook of the show: the four celebrity judges don’t see who is auditioning – their chairs are all turned around – they can only listen and judge on only what they can hear; and if something catches their fancy – the tone, the professionalism, the technique, or just the sheer power – then the celebrity hits their button and then and only then do they get a look at the contestant. After watching a few auditions, I was HOOKED – most of the people the four judges (Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton) ended up choosing I whole-heartedly agreed with. Once the teams were in place, the show did a couple of weeks of battle rounds, where teammates were pitted against each other in a sing-off for their mentor – again, most of the people the four judges ended up choosing I whole-heartedly agreed with.

Then came the LIVE PERFORMANCES.

If I’m understanding correctly, this season of The Voice a change was put into place: the public would vote on their favorites during the live performances. The first round with Team Christina and Team Blake went off without a hitch – performers who nailed their songs got the saving votes, while singers who missed a note or wobbled on their pitch ended up on the bottom. The three singers needing saving throws then had a chance to sing one last song of their choice for their coaches, then the coaches picked the one best singer from the three to save, sending two home – and again, this round went off without a hitch as the performers who nailed their songs got the saving vote.

This guy? Jamar? NAILED IT. He could win the whole kit-n-kaboodle.

This past Monday, Team Adam and Team Cee Lo had their turns at bat. IMHO, these are the two teams with the most truly talented singers, and it was going to interesting how this round turned out. And it was – the two vocalists with the most experience struggled with bad song choices, giving solid but uninspiring performances; younger contestants with less technique gave inspired but flawed performances. In the end, I felt that six singers, three from each time, had done the best job.

On Tuesday, the results of the voting were announced, and on both teams a singer who’d given a wonderful performance found themselves at the bottom of the rankings, while a pretty boy who’d given a less-than-stellar effort was saved. As it turned out, the two performers I felt had no business fighting for their spot on the show belted out two more wonderful songs, securing their positions for another round, but by then, my enthusiasm for the show had waned. Up until this point, it had been about talent and performing under pressure – Monday, it was about being popular with tween girls with cell phones and iTunes accounts. Tuesday night’s show felt like being in Junior High all over again – it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how many chicks you score at the dance.

I may continue watching, finish out this season – I’m emotionally invested in some of these contestants, I’d like to see how they do, where they end up. I no longer see myself making a trip to LA to compete on the show myself, though. Yeah, I’d considered it, considered it hard: a singing competition where you’re judged on your talent and poise, not your Q factor – where do I sign up? But knowing a high school junior with half as much talent and a fraction of my skill can still beat me ‘cause he’s got adorable dimples? I just don’t think so.

Tween girls. Thirty years after the fact, still bringing me down. At least Amanda Palmer is in town.

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