News Roundup: May 14, 2014

The Voice

Just in time to promote their new singles – and the recently announced The Voice tour – the three finalists from Season 5 of the hit NBC show came back to its stage this week. BFTV caught up with Jacquie Lee and Will Champlin on Monday, and we’ve included the video of their performances as well as that of Season 5 winner Tessanne Chin in case you missed them. The songs are available on iTunes as well.

Jacquie spoke with us about being reunited with Tessanne and Will for the tour, which begins next month in San Antonio, Texas. “I’ve seen Tess and Will since [the end of Season 5],” she said, “and then I met Dia for the first time the other day…Dia is amazing. We’re both nerds. We get along really well and we’re going to have so much fun on tour. She’s already like a big sister kind of figure.”

About her new single, “It’s my first song that I’m ever releasing,” she told us. “We’ve been working hard on it…I worked my butt off after The Voice, and I’m coming back as a new artist, away from the show as my own person, so it’s a really cool feeling…I’m really honored to be singing it on The Voice stage where it all started.”

What’s been the coolest thing that’s happened to Jacquie since The Voice? “Ed [Sheeran]. Ed followed me on Twitter,” she laughed, but then teased, “I have some exciting news – just keep an ear open. You should just be hearing a lot from me really soon.”

Here’s Jacquie performing “Broken Ones,” which amusingly is just one word off the title of Dia Frampton’s first post-show single, that was called “The Broken Ones.”

Will Champlin was the third-place finisher in Season 5, and we asked him if there’s any one Season 6 artist that he would like to see take home the title – and therefore a guaranteed place alongside him on tour. “I don’t know. It’s hard to say and hard to speculate at this point,” he said. “It’s anybody’s game. I think they’re all talented and I know what it’s like to be in their position.”

Has his career after The Voice gotten the boost he hoped it would? “Yeah,” he told us. “I just know that it set me into a state of priority to work on the music that’s going to work for me as an artist. I’ve been just putting my nose to the grinder in the studio and trying to get this album done before the tour comes out and just try to drive it home.”

Will released his first single “Last Man Standing” a few months ago, and “Eye of the Pyramid” is setting a benchmark for him, too. “it’s going to radio without a label,” he told us, “which is another very cool thing.” That’s extremely cool, although we hope somebody wises up and signs this tremendously talented artist soon.

Here’s Will performing “Eye of the Pyramid.”

Tessanne was unavailable to join us for an interview, but here’s her performance of “Everything Reminds Me Of You.” According to her comments on Tuesday night, her post-Voice album will be available in June.

Thanks to the results of Tuesday night’s semifinal eliminations show, we now know that The Voice Tour will include Tessanne, Jacquie, Will, Season 1′s Dia Frampton, and Season 6′s Christina Grimmie, Josh Kaufman and Jake Worthington.

The seventh and final spot will go to one artist also from Season 6 – either Audra McLaughlin (Team Blake), Delvin Choice (Team Adam), Kat Perkins (Team Adam), Kristin Merlin (Team Shakira) or Sisaundra Lewis (Team Blake) – who receives the most Twitter votes. You can vote at the tour website (nbcthevoicetour.com/pick). Tickets for the tour are on sale now through Ticketmaster, so don’t wait!

In other news that you didn’t see televised on Tuesday, Team Adam has been busy. Fresh off his successful Kickstarter, Season 2′s Tony Lucca will be playing select West Coast tour dates this fall with Tonic’s Emerson Hart, including Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles; you can find more information at his website (tonylucca.com).

Season 1′s Casey Weston also released a new music video, “Back To The Start,” which we’ve included below for you to watch.

And if you’ve missed any of our recent The Voice alumni interviews, we’ve included some links to the last couple of them here: Nicole Nelson (Season 3), Nicholas David (Season 3), Caroline Glaser (Season 4), Kat Robichaud (Season 5).

The Voice finishes Season 6 this week and Season 7 will begin this fall.

(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

What We Learned From Top 5 Eliminations

The Voice

On Tuesday night, The Voice revealed the results of America’s fourth vote for Season 6, and narrowed down its Top 5 all to the Top 3 that will be contending for the title next week. Here are a few things that we took away from the results show, as you voted for the artists you wanted to see in the final round.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen Tuesday’s live eliminations show yet, read no further, because we’re about to tell you exactly who got knocked out of the competition.

01) NBC really likes the Twitter Instant Save. Last season, when it came time to name the finalists, the social media vote went away. Not this time. For Season 6, Twitter – or at least the East Coast audience on Twitter – was allowed to determine the third finalist. We’re not going to argue with the choice, as Team Adam’s Christina Grimmie deserves to be in the finale, but we will argue with allowing an already questionable method of voting to be used at the most critical juncture. Maybe it’s because they needed to fill time in Tuesday’s show with Instant Save performances, but we’d rather that the finalists be determined the old-fashioned way, by America’s vote…all of America’s vote.

02) Shakira just can’t seem to catch a break. For the second season, the Colombian songstress is shut out of the finale, as Kristen Merlin did not advance. In fact, Shakira finishes exactly how she finished in Season 4: she brought one artist (Sasha Allen) to the Top 5 and had that artist knocked out when it came time to name the Top 3. Is Shakira still figuring things out as a coach, or has she just not had the talent to break through to the last level? Whatever it is, she now has a goal to set her eyes on should she return for Season 8 next spring.

03) This is still the most even playing field we’ve ever had. For the first time since The Voice went to a three-finalist setup, each of the remaining artists is from a different team: Team Adam (Christina Grimmie), Team Blake (Jake Worthington) and Team Usher (Josh Kaufman). That means Usher has another legitimate shot at ending Adam Levine and Blake Shelton’s stranglehold on The Voice championships – possibly the best he’s ever had since there’s no clear favorite amongst this pack the way Danielle Bradbery steamrolled the second half of Season 4. What do you think, America? Are you ready to see someone new hold up that trophy?

04) The right people made it to the finals in Season 5. As we mentioned last night, the trio of finalists from last cycle performed their new singles on Tuesday, and they showed us exactly why we all voted for them last fall. Incumbent champ Tessanne Chin performed “Everything Reminds Me Of You,” while runner-up Jacquie sang “Broken Ones” (just one word off from the title of Season 2 runner-up Dia Frampton’s first single, “The Broken Ones”), and third-place Will gave us “Eye of the Pyramid.” Strangely, Tessanne’s song is the only one that you can’t currently buy on iTunes.

05) Next week, we could make history (more history). Not that Blake Shelton needs another title to brag about, but if Jake Worthington wins, he will be the first returning artist to be named champion. He’s already the first second chance artist to make the finals. Imagine how trippy he must feel right now – unable to even get on the show last season and now one step away from winning the whole shebang. And that’s one of the great things about the show: that artists are not only allowed, but encouraged, to take the coaches’ constructive criticism and come back for another try.

The Voice finals air on Monday at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC, and a winner will be named on Tuesday at 8 PM ET/PT.

(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

5 Soundbites From The Top 5

The Voice

Monday night marked the semifinals of Season 6 of The Voice, and so the Top 5 artists really pulled out all the stops. BFTV was on hand after the performances to get the dish, and here are some of the most fun and memorable soundbites from Monday, including Christina Grimmie explaining these balloons and which two alumni will be returning to the show tonight.

01) No, it wasn’t Christina Grimmie’s birthday. Team Adam’s pop star finished her performance of Fun.’s hit single “Some Nights” with balloons raining down from the rafters, leading Usher to exclaim “Happy Birthday!” and Blake to throw balloons at Usher.

Afterward, Christina explained what was up with the balloons in the first place. “Why not the balloons?” she said. “I feel like they needed to be dropped because it was a party. The whole song was just like get up and [dance].”

02) Kristen Merlin consulted Miranda Lambert before performing “Gunpowder and Lead.” It was a gutsy move for the Team Shakira singer to tackle the song – other Voice artists have tried it and not done so well – but she revealed to us that she actually had some input from Mrs. Blake Shelton beforehand.

“I had a conversation with Miranda over the past week and kind of tried to talk about different things,” she told us. “It’s one of her songs and it makes me really nervous to fill those shoes and Blake’s sitting right in front of me…I just wanted to have fun with it and I wanted to command the stage again.”

03) Will Champlin and Jacquie Lee will be performing their new singles. This is usually the point in the season when Voice alumni return, and as they get ready to set out on the show’s official concert tour next month, Season 5 finalists Will and Jacquie will be presenting their new singles, “Eye of the Pyramid” and “Broken Ones” respectively. We got to speak with both of them on Monday, and they’re both busy.

“I’ve been just putting my nose to the grinder in the studio, just trying to get [my] album done before the tour,” Will told us, while Jacquie added, “I worked my butt off after The Voice and I’m coming back as a new artist, away from the show, as my own person, so it’s a really cool feeling.” If you can’t wait to hear them perform tonight, both songs are already available on iTunes.

04) Usher told us how he’s approaching the final week. Once again, Usher is likely to have a finalist, in his second season of coaching. Asked what it feels like for him right now, he told us, “It’s all about staying focused and keeping the course. This season has been full of unpredictability. Who would’ve ever thought that, from a steal, we would be here? I put so much time and effort and focus in the original Team Usher and yet I lost everybody – and Josh [Kaufman] has become a shining star.

“We have to continue to be consistent,” he added. “I think that week by week, we’re introducing different aspects to who Josh really is and really showing America that he has what it takes to be a real artists so that they’ll continue to vote all the way through. You don’t win it until it’s won.”

05) Carson Daly isn’t worried about The Voice producing a commercially successful star. The main criticism of The Voice has been that its artists haven’t caught on after the show, and the artists’ biggest defender has always been host Carson Daly. We asked him Monday night if he thought any of Season 6′s Top 5 might be the breakout artist critics are looking for, and he shrugged off the pressure.

“I’m not worried about it,” he said. “I think making great television is more important. That’s what we do. We’re a network and we’re trying to make a great television show, an entertaining one with great talent, and we do that at the highest level. It’s hard for somebody to break out in the music business anyway. This isn’t American Idol seven years ago; the world’s in a much different place. It’s hard to do that. It’s not even our goal; we would like people to be successful, and we think that they are.”

Tonight’s live elimination show will reveal which three of the Top 5 will make it to next week’s finale, and feature special guest performances from Will Champlin and Jacquie Lee. Tune in tonight at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC to find out who advances and listen to the new music!

(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

What We Learned From Top 8 Eliminations

The Voice

On Tuesday night, The Voice revealed the results of America’s third vote for Season 6, and narrowed down its Top 8 all the way down to the Top 5. Here are a few things that we took away from the results show, as we prepare for next week’s semifinals. That’s right, we’re already just two steps away from crowning a new winner.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen Tuesday’s live eliminations show yet, read no further, because we’re about to tell you exactly who got knocked out of the competition.

01) Someone finally broke the curse of the Twitter Instant Save. For the second straight week, America gave a reprieve to Team Adam’s Kat Perkins, who found herself in the bottom four, but whose performance of Heart’s “Barracuda” earned her another week in the competition. This is actually somewhat of a relief, because it gives us hope that the Instant Save is no longer an Almost-Instant Elimination. There were some good singers who got axed too early in Season 5 after getting that last-minute life preserver (James Wolpert, we mean you).

02) This is the most even playing field we’ve had in a long time. By this point, this is usually when the new format means there are only two coaches in contention to win the title. After tonight’s results, every team has at least one artist left standing. Team Adam has two – Christina Grimmie and Kat – but otherwise, it’s still really anyone’s game. And when a consistently praised singer like Team Blake’s Sisaundra Lewis gets the boot, you know there really isn’t a favorite anymore. There’s not even a lot of musical commonality between the remaining singers; the only two that share a genre are Team Blake’s Jake Worthington and Team Shakira’s Kristen Merlin. So who knows what we might see in two weeks?

03) Could this be the year the coaches in the middle break through? It’s true that statistically, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton are the superior coaches. But Season 6 is a prime opportunity for Shakira or Usher to pull an upset. After Tuesday, Blake has only one artist in the competition, so he’s on the razor’s edge with everyone else. And Team Usher’s Josh Kaufman is getting better and better each week – his performance of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” was pretty much perfect. With the field much more open than it was for Michelle Chamuel in Season 4, Usher could win his first Voice trophy. And Adam will wish he’d hung onto Josh when he had the chance.

04) Song choice really is a tremendous factor in an artist’s survival. The departures of Sisaundra and Delvin prove that you have to be particularly careful what song you decide to sing, not just how well you perform it. Delvin may have connected with R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly,” but America has heard it a lot (including on this show, when Season 2 winner Jermaine Paul covered it). And while Celine Dion’s “River Deep, Mountain High” wasn’t a bad choice for Sisaundra vocally, it probably wasn’t something The Voice‘s pop audience wanted to buy on iTunes (which is weighted heavily by the show’s vote-counters). Unless you perform a song so amazingly well that people have to own it no matter what it is, you have to give some consideration to what they want to hear, too.

05) Are the coaches going to start to get tougher with these artists? America has made a pretty strong statement by eliminating previously favored singers. Yet the Voice coaches have been pretty forgiving this season; the only real critique we’ve heard in live rounds was when Adam offered his opinion on Bria Kelly’s version of “I’m With You.” Otherwise, it’s rare to hear criticism from the panel. Now that three of the four coaches only have one artist remaining, there is literally no room for error for any of these superstar artists. It’ll be interesting to see how they coach – and how they critique – when the majority of them are up against the wall.

The Voice semifinals begin on Monday at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC.

(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

5 Soundbites From The Top 8

The Voice - Season 6

The Voice dropped a bombshell on Monday night, and we’re not referring to Adam Levine’s change of hair color. Host Carson Daly revealed on-air that to get things down to the right number for next week’s semifinals, the show would be axing three of its remaining singers – almost half the field – after the latest round of performances. We spoke with each of the singers after the show to get their thoughts on that and other things. Here are some of the soundbites from the Top 8.

01) Kristen Merlin’s not afraid to get emotional. Team Shakira’s last remaining artist teared up during her performance of Lee Brice’s “I Drive Your Truck.” That was something she somewhat expected, given the track’s subject matter and because she was already familiar with it. “I’ve sung this song a ton of times before and each time it brings up emotions,” she said. “I was nervous about getting choked up and I did towards the end of it, but hopefully finished strong.” No doubt, Shakira’s hoping so, too.

02) Christina Grimmie doesn’t want to do a third straight rap song. Last week it was Drake; this week it was Lil Wayne. While Christina proved once again that she knows how to transform a rap track into something uniquely hers, that doesn’t mean that’s the direction she wants to go in. “It is very crucial that I don’t do another rap song and do it the same way that I’ve done it,” she told us. “It was a cool thing, but I want to leave it at that. I want to make another bold choice. If I’m here next week, I would love to do something bold, something people will have to vote for.”

03) James Valentine was an impressive guest mentor. The Maroon 5 guitarist came by The Voice to help Team Adam this week, and the artists had strong praise for Mr. Valentine. “He’s just like Adam,” said Delvin Choice. He is very intuitive when it comes to just like knowing what to do in certain situations to make things better. I enjoyed every moment that I had to share with him.”

Added Christina, “What I loved about him was you can definitely tell he and Adam work together…They know how to pick each other’s brain properly and they’re very honest. That’s what I love.”

04) Having three people eliminated does add to the stress level. Especially when you get that information too late to take it into consideration. “We found out probably shortly after last week. Going through the motions backstage, we heard chatter, and it’s nerve-wracking. Eight going down to five, that’s huge,” Kristen said, though she told us that she didn’t have time to consider changing her plans once the news broke. “For me, it was like immediate after I got off the stage on Tuesday, I was already locking in the song and then starting rehearsal..I kind of just had to throw it all out there and wish for the best.”

05) Adam Levine and Blake Shelton really are the better coaches. As we pointed out two weeks ago, statistics prove that Team Adam and Team Blake fare better with America. We brought that information to Adam and Blake on Monday, and asked them what they think they’ve been doing right. “I really don’t know,” laughed Adam. “We just like to do this. I think we’ve been doing it for so long we’re getting the hang of it. We’ve done 6 seasons of this so we have a lot of experience under our belts.”

“I think it’s knowing what artists to move forward,” Blake theorized. “That’s the most important thing you can do. You start with 12 or, depending on what season it is, 16 or 8. You’ve got to figure out which handful of those are the ones that you think have the best shot at winning this thing. That’s probably what he and I have been the best at, if there’s any advantage that we’ve had or anything that we’ve learned by doing this as long as we have been doing it, is who are those three or four artists that we think can win this thing.”

The Voice eliminates 3 artists and reveals Season 6′s Top 5 tonight at 9 PM ET/PT on NBC.

(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

What We Learned From Top 10 Eliminations

The Voice

On Tuesday night, The Voice revealed the results of America’s second vote for Season 6, and narrowed down its Top 10 to the Top 8. Here are a few things that we took away from the results show, plus one big announcement made by NBC about the upcoming Season 7.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen Tuesday’s live eliminations show yet, read no further, because we’re about to tell you exactly who got knocked out of the competition.

01) The Twitter Curse is still legitimate. Season 6 failed to break the streak of Twitter-saved artists going home immediately thereafter, as Team Shakira’s Tess Boyer – the artist that America gave their votes to via social media last Tuesday – was handed her pink slip this week after her performance of Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun.” Just because it bears repeating, we’ll remind you that means every artist who’s ever gotten a Twitter Instant Save on this show has then been kicked to the curb the following week. Which prompts another thought.

02) If that trend holds, the competition is about to take a big blow. This week’s Instant Save went to Team Adam’s Kat Perkins, whose version of the hit song “Landslide” wasn’t a bad one. It brought her to tears and did well by the track. Furthermore, Kat’s been one of the most consistently praised performers throughout the entirety of Season 6. So if she goes home next week, things are going to look a lot different around The Voice. Let’s hope Kat and coach Adam Levine step up their game on Monday and finally put the kibosh on this bizarre trend. Somebody’s got to do it.

03) Live shows really do mean zero room for error. Team Usher’s Bria Kelly did not have her best outing on Monday with an average rendition of Avril Lavigne’s “I’m With You,” a song that probably wasn’t the best choice for her either since we’ve heard it a lot over the last 12 years. (Die-hard Voice fans will recall that Lavigne and Cassadee Pope even performed it as a duet in the finals of Season 3.) But one wonders if she didn’t help her cause when she was visibly upset after the coaches’ comments. That only added to the perception of her as having an off night, and America isn’t very forgiving of off nights. As evidenced by how they sent Bria packing.

04) The social media thing is really getting a bit over the top. And we don’t just mean the Twitter Instant Save. This season’s “Voice Tailgate” concept is like a pregame show for reality TV. Now again this week, NBC is taking over your screen during The Voice‘s final commercial break, showing us a bar graph of the Instant Save numbers in alleged real time. (They’re showing it to the artists in-studio, too, albeit with their names removed.) Do we really need to see second-by-second results when we’re going to find out the answer two minutes later? It feels like the show is wringing every last bit of drama out of Tuesday nights, and we’re nervous enough for the singers without all that.

05) Gwen Stefani is your newest confirmed coach for Season 7. This wasn’t actually part of the results show, but NBC broke the news in a press release just before Tuesday’s program went to air. The No Doubt singer is stepping in for Christina Aguilera this fall, in much the same way that Pharrell Williams is replacing Cee Lo Green. Ultimately, the success of Season 7 will depend on the chemistry between Stefani, Williams and existing coaches Levine and Blake Shelton (who were also confirmed to be returning!), but purely from a musical standpoint, would you want to be on Team Gwen or Team Pharrell? (And hey, only needing 8 coaches over 6 seasons is pretty great. We’re sure American Idol is jealous.)

The Voice‘s Top 8 will perform to reach the Top 6 on Monday at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC.

(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

5 Soundbites From The Top 10

The Voice

The Voice had a wild Monday night as the Top 10 performed hoping to reach the Top 8, while there were celebrity guests at hand and the coaches got into some shenanigans off-stage. Here are some of the interesting and amusing soundbites from the artists, as well as Shakira’s insight into getting her team back on the right track after a difficult first week of live playoffs, and Usher’s important advice to singers.

01) Delvin Choice didn’t know who Graham Nash was prior to rehearsal. Each of the coaches was permitted to bring in a new advisor, and Adam Levine chose Graham Nash, of the legendary trio Crosby Stills and Nash. But Team Adam’s Delvin didn’t know he was in the presence of a rock superstar until he looked Nash up online. “Once I realized who he was, I knew his name by the end of the night,” he quipped, going on to say, “He had a lot of great things to say. A lot of words of wisdom. He’s a legend. He can tell you how to rewrite your ABC’s and you’ll go back.”

02) Some people double-checked their microphones this week. After the snafu that caused half of Kristen Merlin’s performance to go unheard last Monday, there was some extra precaution when it came to making sure the equipment worked. “I think I checked it twice,” said Delvin. “During rehearsal, I think I checked it three times, because it really wasn’t on.”

The one singer who wasn’t fazed was the person the glitch actually happened to. Kristen told us, “I was just throwing it in their hands and hoping for the best.”

03) Shakira was very careful about picking the right guest mentor. With Team Shakira already down an artist, the Latin superstar brought in producer Busbee – who worked on her recent self-titled album Shakira as well as with Christina Aguilera and Season 1 runner-up Dia Frampton – to help them rebound. She told us why she thought he was the best choice for her duo.

“He’s an amazing producer with a great resume; he’s worked with Pink and Rascal Flatts and Lady Antebellum and me and Blake. So I thought that his opinion would be very valuable,” she said. “He’s very smart and very direct as well. And I needed that. I needed someone who would not beat around the bushes but deliver straight advice to my contestants. And he did. He did amazingly well.”

04) The artists don’t think that they’re as good as you think they are. We asked two frontrunners, Team Blake’s Sisaundra Lewis and Team Adam’s Christina Grimmie, if they feel like they’re at the top of the competition. They don’t. “I appreciate all the positive comments and everything, but there’s so much amazing talent on the show that there’s no way I would take it for granted that ‘Oh, God, you got this.’ No,” said Sisaundra. “Every single day I live in the moment and just try to practice and present excellence.”

“Tere are nine other incredible artists here and I would be foolish to think that I’m a solo frontrunner. That’s just a very arrogant way of going about it,” concurred Christina. “Everyone here is incredibly talented and any one of us could be going home at any time. I just keep telling myself, just work hard. Just do your thing.”

05) Usher’s tips for balancing everyone else’s opinions. How do you balance your opinions as an artist with those of your coach, your guest mentor of the week, and the social media feedback from America? Usher gave us his thoughts on keeping it all straight. “You know what you do?” he told us. “You go out there and you realize there’s no right or wrong. There’s just the hard work that you put in. Everyone’s going to have an opinion. Do your best, and walk away from it knowing that you gave it your all. That’s the one thing that I tell each and every person about life, period. Someone’s going to have an opinion, whether it’s art, whether it’s a conversation, whatever it may be… But you have to honestly be connected to what you’re doing.”

The Voice narrows down its Top 10 to the Top 8 tonight at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC.

(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.