News Roundup: November 7, 2013

The Voice - Season 5

News and notes from around The Voice universe:

Congratulations are in order for coach Blake Shelton, whose album Based on a True Story won Album of the Year at Wednesday night’s Country Music Awards. Blake also nabbed his fourth straight Male Vocalist of the Year trophy. His wife (and one-time Voice advisor) Miranda Lambert was named Female Vocalist of the Year for her fourth straight victory.

We also want to give a shoutout to an extended member of the Voice family: Rodney Clawson, the husband of Team Adam’s Nicolle Galyon (from Season 2), was named Songwriter of the Year at the 2013 BMI Country Awards on Tuesday.

Season 3 runner-up Terry McDermott (Team Blake) has been a really busy dude since leaving the show. Firstly, he and fellow alum Cody Belew have been sighted stepping in to partially fill Christina Milian’s social media correspondent shoes. Terry can be seen interviewing the Season 5 artists after their battle rounds in exclusive videos on Sprint’s new The Voice Unlimited Access minisite (you’ll have to set the filter to “Sprint Exclusives” and scroll back to find them). Our thanks to reader Mariah Skye for pointing out these great videos!

Terry also released his next single, “Lose This Feeling,” on Halloween. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, you can snag it off of iTunes by clicking here.

Lastly, we accidentally revealed this before it was official (whoops), but now we can officially say it: Season 2 finalist (and one of our favorite folks!) Tony Lucca has joined up with the National Football League for a pair of high-profile gigs. He’ll be playing during the halftime show of this year’s Thanksgiving Day game, which features Tony’s hometown Detroit Lions. He’ll also be taping some material for the NFL’s Play60 campaign, which encourages kids to get outside and play for at least 60 minutes a day.

For more on what Tony’s doing currently, you can click over to our recent interview with him, conducted during his recent West Coast tour. He’s currently on the road with Brendan James and support from Season 1′s Vicci Martinez.

In other new music, Team Cee Lo’s Justin Hopkins (Season 2) has released a new single, “One Heart” featuring Bryan G, to benefit Stop Hunger Now. It’s a great song by a great guy for a great cause. Click here to download it now.

For more on all things related to The Voice, be sure to check out BFTV’s sister site Big Red Chairs and follow us on Twitter (@bigredchairs).

(c)2013 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.

Album Review: Justin Hopkins, ‘This Could Happen Anywhere’

Justin Hopkins never quite got his due on Season 2 of The Voice. His duet battle with fellow Team Cee Lo member Tony Vincent was as good as the much-discussed match between Jesse Campbell and Anthony Evans, but Justin largely flew under the radar during his brief tenure. Now Voice fans have a second chance to discover him with his live acoustic album, This Could Happen Anywhere.

The choice to go acoustic is a perfect one for Justin, because it strips away anything that might distract from his vocals. Listeners can appreciate the grit and sincerity in his voice, particularly on the earnest “Someday.” Another standout track is “Here Goes Nothing,” which sounds entirely different than the version that first appeared on the Justin Hopkins & The Guilt album of the same name in 2007, but still retains the song’s catchiness.

The songs on this album are some of Justin’s lesser known or even previously unheard, so it should cater to both newer fans and existing ones alike. When taken as a whole, there’s enough variety here to show almost the full range of what he can do; he also happens to be pretty handy with a piano, but that’s for the next one, perhaps.

It’s also important not to overlook Justin’s ability to write interesting, often amusing lyrics, which are front and center on the well-recorded album. These are not a dozen songs about the same thing. They contain all sorts of different lines, like the entire first part of “The Times,” which references dirty cops and drug addicts, and every one of them can be heard clearly on this CD. Justin is hilarious, down to earth, and unafraid to tell it like it is, and his personality comes through in his songwriting.

Those are also the qualities that make This Could Happen Anywhere so appealing. In a landscape of music that can be overhyped, overproduced, and just generally too much, there’s something to be said for an album that’s comprised of just a guy and his guitar – yet still has just as much heart and soul as any standard release. Its old-school feeling – it was recorded to tape – only adds to the release’s charm.

If there’s any flaw in this album at all, it can be chalked up to personal preference; it’s missing one of Justin’s best songs, “Why Would God Come To LA,” but thankfully you can download that track at his ReverbNation page.

A collection of good music without anything else to get in the way, This Could Happen Anywhere is an outstanding album from an underappreciated artist. Hopefully with its release, more people will hear what The Voice missed out on.

You can download This Could Happen Anywhere on iTunes here. It’s also available on Amazon MP3, Spotify, and more. For more about the record, check out my Anthology interview with Justin Hopkins.

For more from Brittany Frederick on The Voice, visit Big Red Chairs and follow me on Twitter (@bigredchairs).  

(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Big Red Chairs. Appears at Starpulse, Examiner & Fanbolt with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.

‘The Voice’ News Roundup: Who Has New Music Coming In November?

November is set to be a big month for fans of The Voice! Not only are the Season 3 live shows starting on November 5, but a number of artists have new music set to be in your hands this month. Here’s what’s headed your way, in chronological order:

  • November 4: Coach Blake Shelton is taping his new Christmas special, which will air on NBC in December. Blake Shelton’s Not So Family Christmas will feature appearances by some of Blake’s former Voice advisors, including Reba McEntire, Kelly Clarkson, and of course, his wife Miranda Lambert. You can put in your request for free tickets to the taping by visiting this website.
  • November 5: The Voice‘s first Season 3 live show airs.
  • November 6: Team Cee Lo’s Justin Hopkins (Season 2) releases his live acoustic CD, This Could Happen Anywhere. Having already had the chance to hear it, I can say this is an album The Voice fans do not want to miss. You can hear Justin talk about it in my recent interview with him from his October show in San Diego.
  • November 7: The Voice‘s second Season 3 live show airs (postponed due to Election Day).
  • November 8: The Voice‘s third Season 3 live show – the first results show – airs on NBC. This show will feature a special live performance by Adam Levine and Maroon 5, as well as the debut of Season 2 winner Jermaine Paul‘s next single. Jermaine’s album will arrive on December 18, the Tuesday before Christmas.
  • November 12: The Voice‘s fourth Season 3 live show.
  • November 13: The Voice‘s fifth Season 3 live show. Coach Christina Aguilera‘s Lotus, which features guest vocals from Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton, arrives. In addition, Team Christina’s Moses Stone (from Season 2) is releasing his mixtape, Resilient, which includes a track with Lisa Scinta (from Season 3).
  • November 20: The Voice‘s sixth Season 3 live show. Team Cee Lo’s Tje Austin (Season 1) drops his new album, Dreamin’ Big.
  • November 21: The Voice‘s seventh Season 3 live show.
  • November 27: The Voice‘s eighth Season 3 live show.
  • November 28: The Voice‘s ninth Season 3 live show.

In other The Voice news, NBC has officially announced a premiere date for Season 4, which will be the first season for new coaches Shakira and Usher. That will start on March 25, 2013.

For more from Brittany Frederick on The Voice, visit Big Red Chairs and follow me on Twitter (@bigredchairs).  

(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Big Red Chairs. Appears at Starpulse, Examiner & Fanbolt with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.

The Anthology Interviews: Justin Hopkins

If The Voice had a ‘Class Clown’ award, it would have unquestionably gone to Team Cee Lo’s Justin Hopkins. He’ll talk to you seriously about music and poke fun of himself in the same sentence. I knew I liked Justin when our first conversation somehow got to be about whether or not his Voice publicity picture made him appear to be under the influence. He’s always having a good time, and when you’re around him, you’re going to have one, too. Not that it necessarily came across on national television.

“I was probably the most vanilla person on that show if you don’t know me,” he said. “I figured if I could get to the live rounds, I could do things like light my piano on fire” – which he has done, at The Bitter End in New York. He’s entirely straight-faced when he says it, too. He’s just crazy enough to do it again.

Aside from Justin’s sparkling personality, he was also one of the most underappreciated artists ever to have appeared on The Voice. One of the great disappointments of Season 2 was that Justin left the competition so early; folks justifiably hold up Anthony Evans as the example of an early departure, but they rarely speak of the battle between Justin and Tony Vincent, which was equally outstanding. (If you missed it or just want to relive it, you can hear it on YouTube.) After his exit from the show, “I did take a minute to kind of chew on everything and get over the bitterness of being evicted,” Justin quipped, before admitting “I was pretty pissed for a little bit.”

That’s not to say he regrets his experience on The Voice: he adds later on that he’d do it again. “The relationships I built were huge. Tony Lucca and I were good friends going into the show; we’ve become much, much better friends since. Tony Vincent, Naia, Angel, Jordis and all these people that I met, we’re like really, really close. I think that camaraderie was evident on the show. Having watched other shows, you don’t see that. We were all friends on the show, bottom line.”

As far as his relationship with his coach, “Cee Lo and I kept in pretty decent touch – not so much as pen pals but I just keep bumping into him at various things. Every time I see him we start to brainstorm a little bit more. I really admire the guy,” he says, adding that he thinks it’s a good idea that Cee Lo, along with Christina Aguilera, is taking a break from The Voice after season three to resume his musical career: “I don’t want to see him get stuck in the rut of being a pop icon on television.”

The intersection of music and television is something he knows a little bit about: before The Voice, he was briefly part of another reality competition series. “I was actually on America’s Got Talent and I walked away from it during Vegas week,” he says. Shortly after that, he ended up in the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, Denmark’s precursor to the Eurovision Song Contest, which was also televised. It all adds up to enough time on television for Justin. “After doing The Voice, I don’t know if I could ever put myself through it again,” he admits. “The show would have to be something really, really amazing and I would have to know that I’m going to have a lot more creative control.”

For Justin, The Voice didn’t provide a huge boost to his career – but he wasn’t expecting it to. “It was kind of a nice little momentum change. For me, I didn’t think it was going to be a life-changing scenario,” he explains. “There’s this huge hype and then it just died off – it’s kind of like a slow build that’s been happening ever since the show and I think that’s just due to persistence and my unwillingness to not keep making music.”

Now, he’s making a lot of new music, starting with his live acoustic record, This Could Happen Anywhere. It’s everything that’s great about acoustic records, something so stripped down that it gives you a perfect opportunity to appreciate Justin’s interesting way with words and the grit in his voice. Recorded to tape, everything is so clear that you hear each syllable and each string on the guitar. With the winning combination of unique songwriting, pure vocals and just that sprinkle of Justin’s wit, It’s one of the best acoustic albums that I’ve ever heard.

If you haven’t checked out Justin’s original work, he calls this latest CD the place for you to start. “The reason I made that was essentially to give people a taste of where the songs come from, why I do this in the first place, how I was doing it before the show,” he says. “And we did it to tape so it has an old-school feel and sound to it. There’s tunes on there that nobody’s ever heard. I did more obscure stuff that people would have as much new music as possible.”

That’s only the beginning of his plans for the end of this year and into the next. “We’re getting ready to start a Kickstarter campaign in November,” he tells me. “Following that we’re going to go back in the studio and make a live record in the spirit of New Orleans jazz and funk – taking the songs and essentially performing them another way. I’ve never had a sound, I’ve never been known for a sound, I’ve been known as a singer, and that’s what we’re going to keep pursuing, is making whatever music we feel like.”

Call it making up for lost time: “I haven’t put out a record in like three years and I think that’s my biggest regret as a musician,” he reflects. “I think people are geared up for three albums in the next five months. I appreciate the support of everybody and I’m really excited about what’s coming up.”

Knowing Justin, that will be something genuine, heartfelt, just slightly badass…and titled after a random noun. One thing’s for certain: Justin Hopkins is a fantastic singer and songwriter who deserves more attention than he gets. Maybe he just has to light a few more pianos on fire to get it.

You can keep up with Justin Hopkins by following him on Twitter (@jhopsmusicbox) and visiting his official website (justinhopkinsofficial.com).

(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Big Red Chairs. Exclusive to Big Red Chairs. No reproduction permitted. All rights reserved.

News Roundup: Justin Hopkins with Tony Lucca, Moses Stone, Lisa Scinta, Charlie Rey and Fan Twitter Search

There’s been a lot going on for The Voice fans this weekend! Here’s all the news that couldn’t wait till Monday:

  • Wednesday night, Team Adam’s Tony Lucca and Team Cee Lo’s Justin Hopkins visited San Diego on their “Chapter Two” tour. Stay tuned tomorrow and Tuesday for my exclusive interviews with the guys, but you can check out all my event photos from the show by visiting the Big Red Chairs Facebook page.
  • Team Christina’s Moses Stone celebrated a birthday by releasing a new song, “Pray For Them.” It’s free for download – you can snag it here.
  • Another Team Christina album, Lisa Scinta, has posted a new video. Click here to check that out, don’t forget to visit her Kickstarter if you haven’t yet, and stay tuned in the near future for my post-show interview with Lisa!
  • Team Blake’s Charlie Rey has put together a Kickstarter effort to fund his post-show efforts. That link can be found here for those of you interested in helping him make some new music.
  • A few Voice birthdays this week: Team Christina’s Celica Westbrook, Moses and Justin all turned one year older recently. If you haven’t already, wish them a happy birthday!

And now, for some Twitter business:

  • The folks at @Fans_AdamLevine would like me to let you know they’re putting together a project for fans to thank coach Adam Levine. The deadline is this Wednesday morning (EST), October 25. You can send your notes, fan art and other submissions to them directly at fansadamlevinenyc@gmail.com and contact them via Twitter for any questions.
  • Speaking of fans, writing my piece on identifying official The Voice Twitter accounts made me interested in compiling a similar list to recognize the best and most active fan Twitter accounts. If you would like to see your Twitter handle listed, or nominate a great fan account you know of, go here to read what I’m looking for. If I get at least ten (10) submissions, I’ll add them to the site.
  • A reminder: if you want to reach me with any tips, questions, or concerns, I respond to fans via @bigredchairs on Twitter and I also answer my emails at bigredchairs@gmail.com.