News Roundup: June 2, 2014

The Voice

It’s only been about two weeks since Josh Kaufman was named champ of The Voice Season 6, but the show’s coaches and alumni are already making offseason moves. We’ve compiled the notable happenings for you below in this first June edition of our The Voice news roundup.

Adam Levine’s Feature Film Debut Is Almost Here

We’re just a few weeks away from seeing coach Adam Levine make his acting debut. Begin Again, in which Adam plays musician Dave Kohl, has its limited release Friday, June 27 and then expands everywhere on July 11.

The cast also includes Keira Knightley as Dave’s jilted girlfriend, Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers) as a music producer, and coach Cee Lo Green as…well, he seems pretty much like a fictionalized version of Cee Lo Green.

You can check out the new trailer for Begin Again below. It includes Adam singing a new track, “Lost Stars,” which we assume will be included on the movie soundtrack that Adam’s own 222 Records is releasing at the beginning of July. You can pre-order your copy now.

Jake Barker Has A New EP

Fresh off being spontaneously added to The Voice Tour, Season 6 alumni Jake Barker – pictured at the top of this article, and probably best known for taking on Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved” before being eliminated in the first round of playoffs – has released a new EP. You can download the four-song Stage Fright on iTunes now.

James Wolpert’s Kickstarter Comes To An End

Team Adam’s James Wolpert was one step shy of making it to the Season 5 finals; he’s been working hard to parlay his exposure into the funds needed to release new music. James’s Kickstarter is almost over, but you still have time to donate and help him reach his goal.

As of Sunday night, when we went to press, James was less than $3,000 shy of his $25,000 target. His campaign ends tomorrow, June 3, just before 9 PM PST. To get more information or to donate, go directly to his Kickstarter page (kickstarter.com/projects/584074878/james-wolpert-makes-a-record).

Casey Weston’s Recent Music Video

Season 1 semifinalist Casey Weston recently dropped a new music video, “Back To The Start.” Take a look at it below.

New Tour Dates For Tony Lucca

One of the busiest alumni is Season 2 finalist Tony Lucca, who’s almost always on the road somewhere. This summer, he’s touring with both Tyler Hilton and Tonic’s Emerson Hart.

Tony and Tyler take to the road beginning July 8 in Louisville, KY and they wrap up July 22 in Nashville, TN. Then in August, Tony jets over to the West Coast to join Emerson for a short stint that runs from August 2 in Phoenix, AZ to August 9 in Seattle, WA. For all the tour dates and locations, hit up his website (tonylucca.com).

If you’re on either coast, these are great opportunities to check Tony out live – we’ve been to several of his shows, and he never, ever disappoints.

Blake Shelton Has A Pizza

You’ve probably seen the billion commercials for this, but it’s just too amusing not to mention. Blake Shelton has teamed up with Pizza Hut, and they’ve given him his own “Blake’s Smokehouse BBQ” pizza – which consists of bacon, ham, and pork covered with honey barbeque sauce. We think it should’ve come with a special latte.

The Voice season 7 will begin airing on NBC this fall; The Voice Tour launches in San Antonio, Texas later this month. For more updates on artists after the show, visit our sister site Big Red Chairs (bigredchairs.com) and follow it on Twitter (@bigredchairs).

(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.

Throwback Saturday

Got this sent to me and thought you would all get a kick out of it: here’s me interviewing Adam Levine and Blake Shelton during Top 8 week on May 5. You can enjoy me in a Hawaiian shirt and Adam complimenting my work (though the video misses Adam pointing out that I’m wearing one of his shirts, and Blake interrogating me about Adam’s new hair color). Thanks to my friend Ruben Jay for catching this great moment on film.

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.

5 Soundbites From The Top 12

The Voice

The Voice is now live, and we were on hand yesterday to watch the Top 12 artists perform for your votes. Afterward, we spoke to several of the finalists – as well as coach Adam Levine – and here are five of the most entertaining or memorable soundbites from Monday night.

1) Kristen Merlin doesn’t think montaging artists is a good thing: Team Shakira’s country singer brushed off a microphone failure that left half her performance falling on deaf ears, but she did admit to a little apprehension when it came to The Voice‘s practice of montaging certain pre-taped performances. “It makes me nervous that people haven’t had a lot of face time with me. And that’s okay. I just have to take the stage and just rock it every time,” said Kristen, who got the montage treatment during battle rounds. “It kind of made me a little nervous tonight when [the microphone] cut out. I was like ‘They need to hear me!’ But it’s all good.”

2) Jake Worthington and Audra McLaughlin don’t know what’s in Blake Shelton’s cup either: It’s one of the show’s biggest mysteries, and it looks like it’s going to stay that way awhile longer. Neither Team Blake artists knows what their coach is drinking. “Honestly, I don’t know. I noticed that he loves Starbucks, so it looks like to me that it’s an iced green tea,” guessed Audra, while Jake told us, “You’ll have to ask him. That ain’t my business to tell!”

3) Even Kat Perkins thinks she should perform with Kat Robichaud: They share first names and an appreciation for rock, so we’ve been thinking a team-up between Team Adam’s frontrunner and Team Cee Lo’s crowdsurfer is in order. Turns out Kat Perkins is on board with this idea, too. “She reached out to me on Twitter the other day. She says she’s recording her record, and I can’t wait to get it, because I was a huge fan of hers last year,” she said. “I can’t wait to hear her record and maybe sing with her one day.” We’ll be first in line to buy tickets for that performance.

4) Team Usher thinks that their coach should consider releasing a workout DVD: After he made Josh Kaufman run a lap during rehearsal for his performance, we asked what Usher’s artists thought about the idea of an official Usher workout video, and response was pretty positive. “I think it’s a great idea. Because he’s definitely a drill sergeant and he gets us ready for the stage,” enthused T.J. Wikins. Agreed his teammate Josh Kaufman, “I think it’s a good idea. People would be into it, right?” Tell us what you think – would you take fitness advice from Usher?

5) Adam Levine on the difference when it comes to coaching for America’s vote: Asked what it’s like to prepare a singer to impress you rather than to win him over, Adam explained his philosophy about coaching in the live rounds. “I think that the most important thing right now, as far as I’m concerned, now that we don’t have any control, is to make them feel comfortable and confident,” he told us. “That’s number one. If you don’t do that, you’re in a lot of trouble. You need to instill them with that confidence because now you can’t protect them. We’re no longer the ones they need to impress.”

The Voice narrows its Top 12 down to Top 10 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.

Adam, Blake, Shakira and Usher Talk Before The Playoffs

The Voice

Live playoffs for The Voice are just two weeks away – and so BFTV snagged a few quick words with coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Usher and Shakira about potential changes in their strategies, what they’ve learned from being coaches, and who might stick around for this fall’s Season 7.

While you’re watching tonight’s battle rounds, know that yes, they really are as agonizing as they look on TV. “That’s the worst part of the job,” Blake told us. “Anything that’s in between the blinds and the live shows sucks for coaches, because the first thing we do is beg these people to pick us and be on our teams. Then we kick half of them out, [and] then we kick half of them out again.”

Ultimately, sometimes picking a winner is less scientific and more relying on gut instinct. “That’s really what it comes down to,” he continued. “Because everybody did great. There were just great performances across the board, and you kind of just go, ‘Out of these five, [which] three do I think have the best chance of winning this thing?'”

What kind of strategy changes do the coaches foresee going into the live playoffs? “I just look at everything he’s doing and I try not to do it,” quipped Adam.

“Which is why he hasn’t won as many times as I have,” retorted Blake.

“I’ve only won one less time than you have,” replied Adam, “and I told you, I’m going to win this one again.”

The million-dollar question, though, is less who will win Season 6 and more who will still be around for Season 7, which begins shooting in the fall. With Pharrell Williams having been announced as the replacement for the exiting Cee Lo Green, we asked Adam and Blake if they intend on keeping their big red chairs for at least one more cycle. Neither of them are sure quite yet.

“There’s definitely going to be a Season 7,” Adam told us. “Whether or not I’ll be on it, I’ll have to check my schedule.”

“I hope to be,” said Blake. “I hope to hell I am.”

We asked Shakira and Usher, who are completing their second season coaching, what they’ve learned so far from the experience. “So much,” she told us, giving a special mention to her team’s advisor. “I was able to bring Miranda Lambert as a mentor, and that was an extraordinary process of [being able] to observe her and to kind of learn from her. She’s an amazing artist. That’s one example of the many things I’ve learned being at The Voice. And also learning about myself through [the singers] and through their own process.”

“This has become routine in a lot of ways. and for us we’re kind of re-living all of what the passion of being an artist is about,” added Usher. “That’s what I learn or am actually just reminded of. Like ‘Man, I remember the first time the lightbukb went off in dealing with a certain thing or a certain hurdle I had to jump over.’ And helping them find it.”

For all the Voice coaches, the bottom line is making a difference in the lives of the artists that they’re working with. “I’m going to be supporting my team a hundred percent,” said Shakira. “Just doing it in every possible way. Psychologically, morally, nourishing them and nurturing them from a human standpoint.

“But also artistically, I hope to be able to share with them everything I’ve learned over the years, and contribute in some kind of way to the lives of artists and to their careers, so they can continue and pursue their own goals and dreams regardless of what happens.”

The Voice continues season 6 tonight at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC. For more on the show, you can also check out our editorial on why The Voice can’t afford to lose Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. Stay tuned tomorrow as well, as host and producer Carson Daly gives us his input on the show’s growth and development.

(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.

Why ‘The Voice’ Can’t Lose Adam And Blake

The Voice

Can you imagine The Voice without Adam Levine and Blake Shelton?

We can’t either.

The Internet’s been abuzz this week following the news that Pharrell Williams is signing on to NBC’s Emmy-winning singing competition for Season 7. Everyone wants to know if the Maroon 5 hitmaker and the multiple CMA award winner will be joining Pharrell in those big red chairs this fall. The network, for its part, has only said that the identities of the other three coaches for the show’s next cycle will be revealed “at a later date.”

But there is absolutely, positively no way The Voice should go on without Adam and Blake.

Not if anyone knows what’s best for everyone – for NBC, the show, the singers competing, and even the superstar coaches themselves. A Voice without its two most popular coaches would likely survive, depending on who uber-producer Mark Burnett could secure to replace them, but it wouldn’t be the same ever again. And right now is not the time to make that kind of drastic move.

Coaching on The Voice isn’t just about being one of “the biggest names in music,” to quote host Carson Daly. It’s also about being a TV personality that can entertain America and have a good rapport with the other panelists. More important than that, it’s about being the best possible mentor for a dozen would-be singers. And being able to commit to weeks of coaching, live tapings, and press appearances. Finding somebody who fits all those criteria is an uphill battle. Not only do Adam and Blake tick off all those boxes, it’s pretty clear that they’ve set the standard for what a coach on The Voice should be.

NBC obviously doesn’t want to see them walk, and they certainly shouldn’t want to see it in Season 7. The addition of Pharrell – and the previously announced permanent departure of Cee Lo Green – already has one question mark hanging over the upcoming cycle, so it wouldn’t be wise to add two more. Especially not during the more competitive fall TV season, where the other networks will be rolling out more than just midseason replacements. With the demise of The X Factor and the continued struggles of American Idol, The Voice is in position to definitively be the top singing show – and possibly the top reality-competition show – on the air. NBC doesn’t need to have anything jeopardize its biggest hit just as it reaches the top of the mountain.

The Voice itself needs Adam and Blake in those outside seats. The show was able to continue when it replaced Cee Lo and Christina Aguilera with Usher and Shakira for Seasons 4 and 6, but Cee Lo and Christina were also the two coaches that had other factors around them – Cee Lo has been contending with legal issues, and Christina seems to be the one that fans either love or love to hate. Adam and Blake have no such concerns. They’re pretty much beloved by The Voice‘s audience. Most of the show’s best moments, from a TV standpoint, involve one or both of them. Jokes about Blake’s sobriety, Adam’s impressions of Shakira, the infamous “bromance” – there’s your entertainment value.

What really matters, though, is how well Adam and Blake can coach: better than anyone else. Between them, they have all of the show’s five championships (Blake’s three bookended by Adam’s two). Watch any episode and it’s easy to tell what makes them stand out. Adam gives very specific constructive criticism, and he’s unafraid to be honest, to the point where he called out everyone in Season 2 for not giving enough effort and directly led to the creation of the Instant Elimination. Blake has shown the ability to nurture talent, particularly the less experienced artists, which is crucial as The Voice‘s talent pool seems to skew younger every season. All of the coaches can do the job, but these two operate on another level.

That extends to what they do off-camera, too. Both Adam and Blake have maintained relationships with their Voice artists well after their time on the show has ended. Adam appeared on Javier Colon’s album, signed Tony Lucca to a record deal, has had both of them open for Maroon 5 on tour, and just recently tweeted about Melanie Martinez’s new release. Blake hired Gwen Sebastian as one of his backup singers, brought Dia Frampton on tour, and he’s stuck his neck out on social media to defend his artists against uncalled-for commentary. They’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty here.

And that’s also made them great ambassadors for The Voice. Ask any former Team Adam or Team Blake member and they’ll not only tell you about what they learned from a coaching standpoint, but praise their coaches for being amazing people. We were all witness to Erin Willett competing in Season 2 through the loss of a family member, and how Blake was there to support her, not just to get her ready to perform but to take care of her. We can personally swear to Adam going backstage during commercial breaks to speak with his team members. This show’s pitch is that it’s different than all the other ones, and these two are the two biggest examples of that.

Adam and Blake would be crazy to leave now, too. They’ve benefited immensely from their “second jobs” – Maroon 5 toured not once but twice last year alone, and Blake is preparing for his second tour in two years. Both of them have seen the tremendous success of albums released during the show’s run; Maroon 5’s Overexposed was certified Platinum by the RIAA, as was Blake’s Based On A True Story… They were successful well before they became coaches, but they’ve obviously gotten a boost from TV viewers who may never have listened to one of their albums otherwise.

The show has also given deserved attention to how outstanding both of them are as people. We now know that Adam isn’t just the photogenic face of his band; he’s a smart, funny and down-to-earth guy, and we can personally say that he is the best person we’ve worked with in 14 years in the entertainment business. Blake isn’t far behind on that list, equally pleasant and accessible, and as loyal as they come. They’ve both managed to balance touring and recording with their Voice duties so far; why not stay with a good thing when it’s poised to get even better?

Add that to all the things we’ve discussed above, and the bottom line is glaringly obvious.

Season 7 of The Voice needs Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. Let’s just hope that everyone involved can make that happen.

The Voice continues its sixth season Monday at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC; stay tuned Monday for our interviews with all four coaches and host/producer Carson Daly.

(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.

Season 6 Premieres Tonight: Your Catch-Up Guide

The Voice

Tonight begins Season 6 of NBC’s The Voice, but there have been plenty of happenings with past artists – and the coaches – since Season 5 wrapped in December. Before you tune in to the new cycle, read on to find out what you may have missed over the last three months.

The major news is that coach Cee Lo Green announced last week that he will not return for Season 7, marking his second departure from his big red chair. Cee Lo’s best finish on The Voice was having the runner-up (Juliet Simms, season 2) – which Usher has already matched (Michelle Chamuel, season 4). No word yet on who will replace him, whether it’s Usher or anyone else.

In happier coach-related news, Blake Shelton has announced he’ll hit the road for a 2014 version of his Ten Times Crazier Tour; information can be found on his website (blakeshelton.com). And Adam Levine and his Season 4 artist Judith Hill performed on the same stage when both participated in CBS’s February 9 special The Beatles: The Night That Changed America. You can hear some words from Adam and see a clip of Maroon 5’s performance in the below video.

A few The Voice artists have turned out new music since December. Season 1 finalist Vicci Martinez has a new release, Otra Cancion, available via Bandcamp. Season 4’s Melanie Martinez debuted her new single, “Dollhouse,” on iTunes. According to iTunes, Season 5 winner Tessanne Chin will release her record in March.

We’ve also caught up with several former contestants to find out what they’re up to recently. You can check out our interviews with Season 3 finalist Nicholas David, Team Cee Lo’s Kat Robichaud from Season 4, and Team Adam’s Caroline Glaser from Season 4. Kat’s recent music video, as well as a music video from Season 2’s Pip, can be found in our January news roundup.

The Voice also won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Competition TV Show in January, over America’s Got Talent, Dancing With The Stars, MasterChef and the now-cancelled The X Factor.

Lastly, if you missed the various announcements over the last few weeks, we now know the full advisor lineup for Season 6. They are Aloe Blacc (Team Adam, after his appearance performing opposite Team Adam’s Will Champlin in Season 5), The Band Perry (Team Blake), Jill Scott (Team Usher) and Miranda Lambert (Team Shakira, her second go-around after advising Team Blake in Season 2). You’ll see the advisors in a few weeks, when Season 6 heads to its battle rounds.

The Voice premieres tonight at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC. Stay tuned all season for our recaps, interviews and news behind the scenes here and by visiting BFTV’s sister site, Big Red Chairs (bigredchairs.com).

(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.