Baton Rouge’s @HunterPlake is my underdog – well not anymore – with his cover of @Sia’s “Elastic Heart” on Season 12 of @NBCTheVoice

HUNTER PLAKE, “Elastic Heart”

It doesn’t happen on every season of “The Voice” but I often select a performer who is an underdog that I root for – and sometimes they stick around.  Despite top notch performances which got him through the Battle Rounds (and stolen by Gwen Stefani from Alicia Keys), I was worried when I heard that 20 year old newlywed Hunter was performing Sia’s massively difficult “Elastic Heart” for the live show, which is when teams get cut from six to three members.  But in an extremely clever move, the arrangement for “Elastic Heart” was stripped down, which allowed Hunter’s gorgeous voice to flourish to heightened emotions even though his version could have probably used some better articulation in spots.  Nonetheless it established a distinct sound that none of the other contestants – or any in recent memory – possess.  Now Hunter is in the Top 12 – underdog no more – and has an excellent chance at finishing in the Top 4.  And people are buying his songs on iTunes even before the Top 12 shows, which is amazing! Check out the performance of “Elastic Heart” – totally melt-worthy 🙂

Published in: on April 23, 2017 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Post-“The Voice” success brings us new @NickHagelin music with the affecting “Blue Moon”

NICK HAGELIN, “Blue Moon”

I’ve written about Atlanta-based singer/songwriter Nick Hagelin so much in the last seven years, that it reads like a chronology of growing personal success that brought him, both somewhat logically and with a lot of hard work, to be an amazing Top 10 contestant on season 10 of “The Voice” as part of Christina Aguilera’s team, where his humble personal life also became front and centre, and only enhanced the appeal of all of his modest talents.  

“Blue Moon” is a new independent release from Nick that tells a common story – being in touch with someone you want to know better, but not enough to call it a relationship.  It’s more of a pop song this time that downplays a lot of the R&B influence from his previous releases, though you cannot deny that beautiful, soulful falsetto of his when it surfaces to bring the some home.  Plus, we get to see some of his dance moves in the above video – as you may know, he’s a ballet dancer too.  Nonetheless, like with some of the videos he released before “The Voice”, it’s nice to see Nick front and centre – simply Nick at his best.  

Published in: on March 26, 2017 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Guilty” by @iamChrisJamison is full of catchy R&B-influenced bounce

CHRIS JAMISON, “Guilty”

With his easy-going, effortless R&B-influenced style, it’s easy to see why Pittsburgh’s 22 year old Chris Jamison has been a fan favourite from TV’s The Voice (Season 7, finishing third).  “Guilty” is culled from his independent self-titled EP, and it’s got a recognizable bass-filled bounce to carry it along with Chris’ seamless vocal.  The song deserves a better video treatment but nonetheless, you could dress his voice up in glitz and synths all you want, and it still suits the singer’s no frills approach.  If you want to have Chris sing on The Voice again soon, then you can vote for him right here.  Watch the video for “Guilty” above.

Published in: on November 26, 2016 at 10:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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#TheVoice’s season 10 soul powerhouse @JoeMaye_ scores with inspired and emotional cover of “Complicated” by @AvrilLavigne

joemaye

JOE MAYE, “Complicated” (free DL)

Baltimore’s Joe Maye is one of the rare contestants on the US edition of “The Voice” who got a second chance.  In Season 9 his fine performance was, to the aghast of many viewers, dismissed by the coaches because he got too wrapped up in dancing which they said affected his singing.  But returning in Season 10, his performance was more refined and he ended up on Christina Aguilera’s excellent team – to me he would have finished in the Top 10 had her team not been so strong.  But in the aftermath, Joe has now made his cover of my fellow Canadian Avril Lavigne’s classic 2002 hit “Complicated” available for free download.  And it’s a fine introduction for those who did not see his performances on “The Voice”.  “Complicated” shows how Joe can take a song everyone knows, and then run with it in his own style.  Thus he removes the gritty, rebellious aspects of the original and replaces them with a convincing, emotional, soulful side completely unlike the original.  It’s a great choice to cover after 14 years and should continue to send Joe Maye on his way as someone with unique talents to offer.  Listen below and download it for free!

Published in: on October 10, 2016 at 7:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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@iamJakeBarker gets his dance groove on with “Bump”

JAKE BARKER, “Bump”

Jake Barker’s recent choices of new material and cover songs are proof in the pudding of the diversity he showed as an underdog favourite who conquered his stage fright on Season 6 of “The Voice”.  “Bump” is one of those new originals, and for the first time it throws Jake into dance music territory, to which his voice is amazingly suited.  Somewhat ironically, the last post I wrote about Jake was about his cover of Usher’s “You Make Me Wanna”, and “Bump” also treads into Usher dance music territory similar to great songs like “More”.  More power to Jake to continue and lay everything out for listeners to hear and find what might resonate for his upcoming full album of Trip.  Watch the video above.

 

Published in: on March 13, 2016 at 8:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The false beauty of loneliness is captured in “Frozen” by Clinton Washington @ClintonWmusic

CLINTON WASHINGTON, “Frozen”

When I write an initial blog post about a performer, it’s with every intent on sticking with him or her to see what’s next.  As readers of this blog know, Little Rock native Clinton Washington’s recent single “Hearts Beat Loud” is one of my current favourites (it will forever be a companion song to Adele’s “Hello” for me).  “Frozen” also looks to rank right up there too, featuring an equally remarkable vocal performance that makes it seem like Clinton has been performing songs like this well beyond his young years.  “The Voice” Season 8 contestant not only has superlative range but the control in his voice that’s needed to bring a song back into perspective.  “Frozen” glides by so easily, laden with emotion, that you cannot help but want more from Clinton Washington.  The gracefully directed video brings out the stark feelings of loneliness and isolation without leaving you in a puddle on the floor.  You can pick it up on iTunes as one of the songs on his recent album release called Clinton. 

Published in: on January 27, 2016 at 11:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Voice season 9 contestant @Chance_Pena scores with low-fi original “1965”

CHANCE PENA, “1965”

15 year old Texas singer Chance Peña was a dark horse Top 20 contestant on the most recent season of “The Voice”, but you couldn’t help but root for him with his sincere performances that soared beyond his young years.  He was too-harshly critiqued for his performance of Imagine Dragons’ “Demons” (below) on the show – I personally thought it was the best of that night, honest and vulnerable to the core, and it got better as it went along – which was his last until coach Adam Levine knew that Chance had more to offer and brought him back.  And without that, we wouldn’t have got to see Chance’s take on The Civil Wars’ “Barton Hollow”, which stood out as thoroughly unique from the rest of the performances.  Like season 8 winner Sawyer Fredericks, Chance simply cannot be placed in the same pop box as the rest of his fellow contestants.  He is working on new original music, and he’s posted “1965” on Soundcloud above for you to hear.  It’s low-fi but that adds to his touching story-telling charm; a song like this needs no busy arrangement.  While he might be leaning towards folk and Americana as his key sub-genres, I still think Chance has a lot to offer as a diverse pop singer.  Keep your ears out for more new music from Chance Peña.

Published in: on January 3, 2016 at 9:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Voice’s season 6 contestant @iamJakeBarker puts his spin on @Usher’s “You Make Me Wanna”

JAKE BARKER, “You Make Me Wanna”

With two recent EP’s under his belt (Stage Fright, Trip) after his experience on TV’s “The Voice”, likeable NYC-based R&B/pop singer Jake Barker is off to a fine start in 2016.  He kicks off his new campaign with an original spin on Usher’s “You Make Me Wanna”, and has chosen to post new songs every two weeks each month along with some covers (which he explains after the song in the video above) .  It’s only two minutes long but Jake’s unique vocal spin on “You Make Me Wanna” really deserves a full rendition.  This was Usher’s first huge single (and remains my favourite by him) from late 1997, and isn’t heard as often as his later hits these days.  But if you need to be convinced that Jake is someone to watch, this will do the trick.  Continue to watch this blog for more of Jake Barker’s music in the months ahead!

Published in: on January 3, 2016 at 9:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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L.A.’s @SugarJoans shows off her gorgeous range in “Nvr”

SUGAR JOANS, “Nvr”

You will undoubtedly remember Sugar Joans as a contestant from Season 7 of “The Voice” whose blind audition made mincemeat out of Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools”, among her many standout performances.  And appearing on such a show is never about the winning when a song like “Nvr” comes out of nowhere and grabs your ears.  Sugar comes from musical roots – her father is pop/R&B singer Joe Pizzulo, whose own striking voice was the lead on 80’s hits by Sergio Mendes, “Never Gonna Let You Go” and “Alibis”.  Marry Sugar’s multi-octave voice with a chilled out EDM backdrop and you have a breakout when she goes to town with the strong, emotional and retrospective lyrics of “Nvr”.  It might be a touch long at over 5 minutes long but it’s a fine story, and I would definitely enjoy hearing what some remixers might do with it for the dancefloor.  You can pick up “Nvr” on iTunes.

Published in: on November 28, 2015 at 5:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Love rises above all with the stunning “Hearts Beat Loud” by @TheVoice’s Clinton Washington @ClintonWMusic

CLINTON WASHINGTON, “Hearts Beat Loud”

One of the reasons why I’m a regular watcher of TV’s The Voice is to see where some of its finest contestants end up going next.  Whether they get cut from the show at the Battle Rounds or any of the next steps, there is some immensely fine talent that just doesn’t fit into the rest of the competition.  Arkansas native Clinton Washington ended up finishing his time on the show facing off against Top 5 contestant India Carney last season with their beautiful duet of Rihanna’s “Stay”, but he left an indelible mark with his distinct voice and commanding stage presence.  His new single “Hearts Beat Loud” is a heart-wringer, and you may need a few tissues to help you get through.  Clinton has an engaging and genuine delivery that is so becoming and fits easily alongside some of our finest singers today.  Once you hear this knockout of a song you will wonder why it shouldn’t be front and centre on the radio, but alas that is not the nature of our business today.  So give the video a good solid watch and look forward to hearing more from this very talented singer.  Play it back to back with Adele’s “Hello” 🙂

Published in: on October 25, 2015 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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