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Survivor – Blood Vs. Water – San Juan Del Sur – Recap – 12/3/14

December 8th, 2014 · No Comments

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The Voice: Final 8, Season 7, 12/1/14

December 2nd, 2014 · No Comments

Tonight’s cut on The Voice is down to the final five, not the final six.  That means that, if the Twitter save is used, half the field is in jeopardy.  A whole team could disappear before next week.  As Adam Levine said during the final eight’s performances last night, “This is the week everyone has to give their best.”

1.  Ryan Sill of Team Gwen is earning a “Comeback KIng” title because he keeps escaping elimination.  His fans may not show strong in the vote tally, but they sure can tweet.  Gwen calls him an underdog and brings in a choreographer to help him (and her other remaining charge, Taylor John Williams) with stage movement.  His song this week is the Journey power ballad, “Open Arms.”  The song allows him to show some emotion and hit some big notes. Gwen advises, “I don’t want to take anything away from how he has such a beautiful voice.”  The judges like the result and Blake says, “I don’t know what else you can do…your best performance.”  Has Sill veered too far from his teen appeal or is Gwen guiding him to a larger, more adult alt-rock crowd?

2.  Blake has only one charge left, Southern country-rocker Craig Wayne Boyd, but that may be enough. “This show is yours to lose,” Blake advises him.  Boyd chooses to sing “Take it Easy,” the Eagles’ hit that he’s often done in his shows.  After a couple of weeks of ballads, Blake agrees it’s time to go back to rock.  For the performance they bring the band onstage and give the place the atmosphere of a barn dance.   Blake calls the result a perfect follow-up to last week.  Adam adds, “Gotta have fun–not everything can be a serious piece.”

3.  As Carson Daly points out, DaNica Shirey is the only female vocalist left.  Her coach Pharrell decides to break her out of her usual R&B genre with Heart’s power ballad, “These Dreams.”  He reminds her Whitney Houston gave some soul to “I Will Always Love You.”  She sings the song well but it may just not be the right song–and her voice lacks the power of this season’s male vocalists.  Gwen, though, thinks it was a great choice.  Blake adds, “You’re so little but your voice is enormous.”

4.  Adam is the only coach whose team still has all three members. His black male vocalist,  Damian, chooses Adele’s “Someone Like You.”  Adam says Damian and Adele both sing with the same feeling, the same “unbridled passion.” It’s a contemporary song that allows Damian to break out of the classic R&B mode in his own way.  After Blake hears this performance, he raves (as he has a few times previously), “This is the best season, the best group of singers, I’ve ever seen!”  Damian probably locked up most of the R&B vote this week.

5.  One of this season’s white soulmen, Chris Jamison, performs an uncommon choice–Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.”  It may be a little too retro-disco, and it’s not a song with obviously showy vocal demands.  Adam, though, advises, “Girls are obsessed with you… You’re sensitive, Marvin was opening up to love.” It also gives Jamison a chance to show his falsetto range.  The performance could be a wreck–but it’s not.  The judges collectively like it.  Pharrell in particular raves, “Hands down, your best performance…the way you just got lost in the intention of the late great Marvin Gaye…It’s your zone!”  Gwen says, “A lyric like that, you did a great job.” Adam summarizes, “You did it with so much love and so much respect!”

6.  Next comes this season’s other white soulman, Luke Wade of Team Pharrell.  He makes a very different move, going back to the eighties for “Holding Back the Years” by the soulful Brit-invasion group Simply Red.  He explains, “It’s a song people my age have never heard of and people older than me love.” He says he wants to do it like Maroon 5 would do.  He gives a bluesy reserved performance–maybe too reserved.  Blake complains about “a lot of sparse singing,” and Adam complains, “too much thinking–I want to see fire.”  Who’ll go first, Luke, Chris, or Damian?

7.  Gwen could have had a team of Craig Wayne Boyd, Ricky Manning, and Taylor John Williams.  However, she let Blake grab Boyd, and she cut Manning for Sill.  With Anita Antoinette gone and Sill holding on from cut to cut, that leaves Williams as her best hope to make the finals.  She calls him her “little rebel.”  Daly calls him a folksinger.  This week Gwen and Taylor opt for a very contemporary hit, Lorde’s “Royals.” Williams says he’d like to make it angry, comparing his hometown Portland’s homeless to the people who have so much.  Like Adam Lambert and a few other notable singers, he has a way of deconstructing a song and completely making it over.  As he sings “Royals,” it’s like a coffeehouse poetry slam but with amazing notes.  The judges appear amazed, too.  “You’re an old soul,” says Pharrell, “hippie… you made it your own.”  Blake concurs, “You take every song and put your own spin on it.”

8.  Last contestant is Matt McAndrew of Team Adam.  He shows his singer-songwriter coffeehouse side with “The Blower’s Daughter,” a contemporary song that sounds like an old Irish lament.  It seems the last performance of the night is always crammed for time, so only Adam and Blake get to talk about how much they like the result.

My prediction for the final five:  Matt, Craig, Damian, Taylor, and Ryan. Will he get saved by his Twitter faithful one more time?   If he doesn’t, will Chris or Luke crack top five?

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The Amazing Race: Season 25, Singapore, 11/28/14

December 2nd, 2014 · No Comments

On this season of The Amazing Race, three dominant teams (who’ve won at least one leg) and two dark-horse teams (who haven’t) begin the ninth leg in Malta.  Their first clue of this episode tells them to fly to Singapore.  It also tells teams they’ve been pre-booked for a flight from Malta to Paris, then they must book the connection from Paris to Singapore.  The clue also says, “If you’re able to book flights you find more advantageous, you may do so.”

Teams are warned:  Caution, double U-turn ahead!  Four teams (Brooke/Robbie, Amy/Maya, Jim/Misti, and Adam/Bethany) plot to U-turn female bicycle racers Kym/Alli, a scheme that began on the previous leg.

Front-runners Adam/Bethany and Jim/Misty ask at a travel agency about flying from Paris to Singapore.  The travel agent books them for a connection that gets to Singapore at 6:40 a.m.

Kym/Alli come into the agency and ask about flying from Malta to Singapore.  The agent books them on a route that connects through Rome and gets to Singapore at 6 a.m.  Denitsts Jim/Misti and surfers Adam/Bethany are unhappy because this puts them 40 min. behind–and behind the team they planned to U-turn.  They can’t change their booking because of a new TAR rule–they have to stay with the air travel they’ve booked.

Female scientists Maya/Amy and romancing wrestlers Brooke/Robbie get the same route as Kym/Alli.  When teams arrive in Singapore, they’re instructed to catch a small ferryboat to a nearby jungle island, then take a path through the jungle (a morning jog or run through the jungle) about a mile to a coconut stand.  There a man will give them a drink and the next clue.

When the three front-running teams get their clues at the coconut stand, they find a Fast Forward option is available.  Blithely unaware of the other teams’ scheming, Kym/Alli decide to try and get the FF.  This puts the plot to U-turn the cyclists in even bigger jeopardy–they may never even see the U-turn board at all.  Now the scheme shifts to targeting surfers Adam/Bethany.

The FF is to go to a wave house and surf an artificial wave for two minutes.  When Jim/Misti and Bethany/Adam get to the coconut stand and see what the FF is, the surfers can’t resist.  Surfing an artificial wave is harder than an ocean wave (“It’s more like snowboarding,” Adam observes) but they head for the wave house anyway.

The wave house sequence is edited almost in real time, so we see most of each team trying for two minutes.  Kym/Alli wipe out about a min. into their first attempt.  Then Adam/Bethany show up and try–and Adam wipes out about half-way through.  Kym/Alli try again, fail again.  Adam/Bethany try a 2nd time, and the camera stays with them for the whole two minutes.  They win the FF, putting them in 1st place, and Kym/Alli know they’re probably in last place now.

Teams that don’t get the FF have to go to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, with its three 57-story towers.  Here’s a roadblock.  One person from each team must walk a tightrope (using a safety harness) between two towers.  Amy/Maya are 1st to reach the RB, and Maya walks the rope with no problem–she says she’s not afraid of heights.  The young scientists get a clue envelope that says to go to a city square and search for another clue.  They expect a clue box, but instead a man is walking around with a red-and-gold sign strapped to his back.  People have to accost him and ask for the next clue

When Brooke/Robbie arrive at the RB, Brooke says she’ll do it even though she doesn’t understand what she’s agreeing to do.  (She already got emotional over a similar task in Morocco.)  However, she performs fairly well.

Amy/Maya find the man with the sign, and his clue is for this leg’s detour. After the wrestlers finish the RB, they encounter Amy/Maya, who direct them to the square but not the man.  The couple walk past the guy at least once before getting their clue.

For the detour, teams have the choice of getting a painful deep-tissue Asian massage, or crack two lb. of boiling-hot crab at a food festival.  Three teams choose the massage:  first Amy/Maya, then Brooke/Robbie, and–after those teams are gone–stragglers Kym/Alli.  Most of the footage is of Amy/Maya screaming their way through the ordeal.  We don’t see an equal amount of footage for the other two teams, so we can’t compare how well (or poorly) they handled it.  (Robbie does yell at one point, “Do I owe you money?”)  Everyone who does this detour leaves with huge ugly welts on their backs.

Between screams of pain, Amy/Maya and Brooke/Robbie yell back and forth about the U-turn.  They agree to burn a U-turn, that one team will U-turn the surfers and the other, the cyclists.  Of course they have no way of knowing that the surfers are already approaching the pit stop.

Back at the hotel RB, Jim does the tightrope walk, but his size and weight prove a disadvantage. He slips off the rope, and has to be reeled in like a fish to start again.  He realizes he needs to put most of his weight on his arms.  He’s still on the rope while complaining about how his arms are shot and feeling beat up.

Misti/Jim are the only team that picks the crab detour.  Jim comments about how the crab’s so hot they can’t handle it for more than a few seconds at a time.  Not only that, musicians crowd around, banging cymbals and tweeting flutes.  Jim’s response is to get out a whistle and blow along.  That makes his wife and everybody else crack up.

The pit stop for this leg is at the Fullerton Pavilion, a steel-and-glass structure Phil calls a floating dome, on the water by the financial district.  Adam/Bethany place 1st.  They win a trip to Bali.

Amy/Maya are the first team to complete either detour. The next clue directs them to a park, and here is this leg’s U-turn board. The women U-turn the surfers, completely unaware that the young couple has already checked in at the pit stop.

The clue at the U-turn board involves a search for the pit stop clue.  Phil explains in a voice-over segment that the merlion (like a mermaid but with a lion head and fish body) is a symbol of Singapore and merlion statues/monuments are scattered at five different locations in the city.  It’s up to the teams to find which one’s got the clue box with pit stop directions.

Brooke/Robbie reach the U-turn board.  This is an unpredictable team, and after being so hot to U-turn the cyclists, they decide not to U-turn anybody.  They assume the surfers got U-turned, and the cyclists either got the FF or are so far behind it doesn’t matter.

When Brooke/Robbie meet up with Amy/Maya at one of the merlion sites, the so-called sweet scientists ask if the wrestlers U-turned the cyclists.  The wrestlers admit they didn’t, and the women start screaming at them, “You’ve got to go back and do it!”  The wrestlers refuse–they pretend to agree but that’s just to stop the screaming–and the teams part ways, each going on their own hunt for the pit stop clue.

About this time Kym/Alli complete the RB and start the massage detour.  Jim/Misti finish cracking their two lb. of crab and get their clue to the U-turn board.  When the dentists get to the U-turn board, they’re relieved to find they haven’t been U-turned (even though they’ve still got a “save” pass) and decline to U-turn anybody.

Brooke/Robbie get to Mt. Faber Park ahead of Amy/Maya.  They find the pit stop clue here.  As they get in their taxi and leave, they encounter the scientists’ taxi.  The women ask if the clue’s at the park.  The wrestlers say it isn’t.  The women’s taxi keeps going.  Robbie laughs about the women will probably have to go to each location twice now, and they could slip to last place.

Brooke/Robbie place 2nd.  Jim/Misti find the clue box at Mt. Faber Park and place 3rd.  They’ve made it through nine legs and never needed their save pass, so now they can keep it as a souvenir.

Kym/Alli get done with the massage, and pass the U-turn board.  They find they haven’t been U-turned.  They decline to U-turn anybody–although doing so would be useless because they’re aware they’re probably in last place.  They randomly pick Mt. Faber Place as the first location to search for a pit stop clue.

Amy/Maya have visited four merlion sites.  The only one they haven’t checked is the one the wrestlers said wasn’t the right place.  They backtrack to Mt. Faber Place.  They find the pit stop clue and place 4th.  Kym/All are the last team to reach the pit stop, and are eliminated.  They didn’t go out because of other teams’ scheming, they simply made a risky gamble that didn’t pay off when they tried and failed to get the FF.





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Survivor – Blood Vs. Water – San Juan Del Sur – Recap – 11/26/14

November 27th, 2014 · No Comments

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Dancing with the Stars – S19 E14 – Finale Recap 11/25/14

November 26th, 2014 · No Comments

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The Amazing Race: Season 25, 8th Leg, Malta, 11/21/14

November 26th, 2014 · No Comments

The Amazing Race Season 25 is down to six teams:  pro surfers Adam/Bethany (she has only one arm), pro wrestlers Brooke/Robbie, young male-male couple Tim and Te Jay (T/T or TNT), female scientists Amy/Maya, female bicycle racers Kym/Alli, and Jim/Misti, the married couple who are both dentists.  As the eighth leg begins they all travel together from Sicily to Malta by ferry.  (This marks a change from the usual routine of going to an airport and flying somewhere.)

When teams get off the ferry, their first task is to serve wine to a tableful of the legendary knights of Malta.  This isn’t a roadblock or detour, just an extra task.  Everyone has to carry a tray, one-handed, balancing a wine bottle and two glasses, from a bar, up 500 steps to the knights’ table.  If anyone drops and breaks their bottle or glasses, the team has to clean up, then go back, replace what they broke, and start again.  Once the two team members serve their wines, the knights hand over the next clue.  Only Kym/Alli and Brooke/Robbie make it on the 1st try.

Next clue instructs teams to make their way (by taxi) to a boathouse.  Brooke/Robbie have trouble finding a taxi and slip to last place.  It’s the middle of the night and the boathouse is closed.  Teams find six Maltese crosses marked with two different starting times for the next morning.  The front three teams grab the 7:30 start time, the other three, the 7:45 start time.

Teams don’t want to get too far away from the boathouse, even though there isn’t any comfortable or convenient place to sleep.  People sleep on benches or the concrete, complaining about rats and bugs.  (If you want to be on TAR, think about this part carefully.)

The next morning, Jim/Misti, Kym/Alli, and T/T start at 7:30.  Brooke/Robbie, Amy/Maya, and Bethany/Adam start at 7:45.   Everyone has clues for a roadblock.  Motorboats take the teams to a grotto–the Blue Grotto–along the coast of Malta.  One team member must rappel down a cliff and into the water.  (How the team members get up the cliff isn’t shown.)  Then the team member has to swim into the Blue Grotto and retrieve their next clue from a small boat hidden there.  Then they can swim back and join their teammates, who are waiting in the motorboats.

Misti, Alli, and Tim are the first racers to complete the rappel.  The second group consists of Robbie, Amy, and Bethany–who has no problem rappelling or swimming with only one arm.  I’d like to see more detail about how she handled it–maybe that’ll be in a DVD extra.

Teams finish the RB in the following order:  Kym/Alli, Misti/Jim, T/T, Bethany/Adam, Amy/Maya, and finally Brooke/Robbie (he’s a slow swimmer).  The clue hidden in the grotto directs them to go to a church.

Kym/Alli are 1st to get to the church. They find a clue box that gives a choice of detours.  However, there’s no explanation of what the options are–only their names, “Flag” or “Shine.”  Teams have to go to the locations to find out more.

Kym/Alli choose “Flag.”  This proves to be a task that would work very well as an immunity challenge on Survivor.  Phil makes a brief appearance to explain this detour is an old Maltese game.  Someone has to run up a greased pole (like a telephone pole) that slants out over the ocean, and grab a flag on the top.

Five teams try this task, and none succeed.  It appears to be a test of speed, balance, and strength.  One slight misstep or hesitation, and you fall in the water.  One teammate has to grab a yellow flag about two-thirds of the way up, which most teams manage.  The other teammate has to grab a red flag at the top, which no one does.

While Alli’s trying to get a flag, T/T and Misti/Jim see her and forget about trying to find the church first.  The run down to the waterfront, start trying to perform the task–then realize, this is a detour and they passed up the clue where they get the options for a detour.

T/T were spared elimination on the seventh leg and now need to perform a speed bump.  They find the church, and find directions for the detour and their speed bump.  They have to paint the Maltese cross on two shields.

Jim/Misti find the church and don’t want to go back to the “Flag” challenge, so they pick the “Shine” detour.  Brooke/Robbie pick the “Shine” detour, too.

For the “Shine” detour, teams have to go to a nearby courtyard and put on helmets and breastplates like what Spanish conquistadors wear in history textbooks.  The armor is rusty and dirty and teammates need to shine up each others’ armor.  It’s drudgery but, unlike the “Flag” challenge, teams can put a clock on it.

When Bethany/Adam reach the detour, they turn in the express pass they won on the second leg.  That makes them the first team to get this leg’s pit stop clue.  They’re first to reach the pit stop, Ft. Manuel, built in the 18th century.  They win the leg and $10,000 each.  The greeter at the mat shows them a Maltese hunting falcon.

T/T finish painting their shields and head back to the “Flag” detour.  Amy/Maya arrive and try the “Flag” detour, but Amy can’t sprint up the pole.  She injured her leg in a workout just before she went on TAR.  The sweet scientists switch detours.

Brooke complains so much about polishing the armor, she and Robbie switch tasks.  She gets the yellow flag but he tries and tries and can’t get the red one.  They switch back.  “We gave it a try.  We wasted about 30 minutes,” Robbie says.

T/T don’t want to switch because they realize they must be in last place by now.  Te Jay got the yellow flag.  Tim’s trying and trying to get the red one but can’t.

Jim/Misti finish polishing their armor, and get their work approved.  They reach the pit stop in 2nd place. Kym/Alli finish the armor.  They place 3rd.  Amy/Maya finish the armor and place 4th.

Two teams are left on course.  Tim gets to the point where he just can’t run up the pole anymore–he’s shaking.  The gay couple give up on the “Flag” detour and switch to “Shine.”  When T/T arrive at the other location, Brooke/Robbie are finishing shining the armor they half-finished before.  The one thing left that may affect the outcome appears to be if Brooke/Robbie have bad taxi luck.

Brooke/Robbie finish their armor and get it approved.  They find a taxi is waiting for T/T.  They try and talk the driver into taking them instead but he refuses.  There’s a bar nearby, and they ask the bartender to call a cab.  One arrives before T/T are finished.

The show tries to create some suspense, but Brooke/Robbie arrive at the pit stop in 5th place.  T/T are 6th and this time there’s no reprieve.  They’re eliminated.

On the next leg, a double U-turn is coming up.  Several teams have agreed to U-turn Kym/Alli if they get a chance.  Then again we saw what happened in Season 24 when several teams agreed to U-turn Brenchel.




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The Voice: Top Ten, Season 7, 11/24/14

November 25th, 2014 · No Comments

Last night The Voice featured some very high-powered mentors, including Diana Ross, record executive Clive Davis, and sometime Voice judge Christina Aguilera.  The final ten were singing for votes this evening, and this field proved to be very closely bunched:

1.  Team Adam starts the show off with one of the biggest breakouts of this season,  Matt McAndrew.  He was the only Voice contestant last week who placed in the top ten of iTunes.  This week coach Adam Levine gives his alt-rocker a Coldplay song that’s not “Yellow” and not “Clocks.”  It’s “Fix You,” I think, and it’s a little more rocking.  After the performance, Pharrell raves (as he did last week) about how KROQ and Z-100 (apparently the NY version of KROQ) should be calling about adding the track.  Gwen raves, too, about, “Shows what kind of artist you could be.”  Adam talks about how McAndrew’s voice is able to combine big notes with a “supersweet” mellow side.

2.  Anita Antoinette of Team Gwen gives “Let Her Go” (Passengers) a reggae makeover.  There are only three women left in the field this season and the competition from the seven male vocalists is formidable.

3.  Speaking of formidable, Damian of Team Adam takes on Stevie Wonder’s “You and I,” gives it a serious soulful classic delivery, and successfully updates the original.  “Damian can really touch people,” Adam raves, and later adds, “I felt the entire audience get on board.”

4.  Reagan James, the teenage pop princess of Team Blake, gives the current hip-hop hit “I’m so Fancy” a different arrangement.  During rehearsal she says she wants something stripped down–but with electric guitar.   She plays up the teen appeal but unfortunately some of her inexperience may be starting to show.  The judges are impressed, however.  “That was hard to do,” her coach Blake comments.  “You were doing two people’s job–easily your best performance.”

5.  Luke Wade of Team Pharrell sings his version of the classic Otis Redding hit, “Try a Little Tenderness.”  He offers a mix of soul, blues, and jazz, and shows some personality as well.  Gwen praises how he’s learned to work the stage.  Adam comments the performance “had Pharrell all over it,” like Pharrell singing Otis Redding.

6.  Craig Wayne Boyd began this season doing Southern-fried rock, but lately he’s been showing his softer, more romantic side.  He sings Johnny Cash’s classic, “I Walk the Line” with a completely different arrangement, turning it into a contemporary country power ballad.  His coach Blake talks about how Boyd’s an outlaw Southern rocker–but he’s also a heartthrob.   In judges’ comments afterward, Gwen notes she’s glad she saved him, because that’s why he’s still in the competition. Pharrell says, “Nothing like coming across like you know who you are.”  Blake sums up, “That was magic!”

7.  Ryan Sill, the teen heartthrob of Team Gwen, looks to be going home sooner rather than later–it’s not him, it’s simply a numbers game.  He was Gwen’s save during the semi-finals, and he was in the bottom three last week.  His song this week is Muse’s “Starlight.”  After his performance, Adam says, “I was shocked you were in the bottom three last week.  I didn’t think you deserved it.”  He advises the singer, “Continue to try to figure out who you are.”  Blake concurs, saying, “You continue to figure this thing out.”  So does Pharrell, “You’re seriously most improved,” noting how the young singer’s been guided into the alternative scene.  Gwen says she had trouble getting rights to the song until she sent Sills’ audition tape to Muse, showing them he was capable of doing the song.  She adds, “You’re blossoming into an artist!”  Even if Ryan goes out this week, he can at least say he got sandwiched between Gwen Stefani and Christina Aguilera during rehearsal.

8.  DaNica Shirey of Team Pharrell sings “I Have Nothing” originally by Whitney Houston–who she idolized–before Clive Davis, the man who made Houston.  During an all-hands coaching session, he tells her that she’s caught the song’s vulnerability.  After Shirey’s performance, Blake declares, “This is the best live show I have ever seen!  The performances are unbelievable!”

9.  Taylor John Williams has an idea for an alternative take on the Beatles’ classic, “Come Together.”  He says he’d like to give each verse its own character.  His coach Gwen is reluctant because the song is “so classic” but she advises, “Get into character–weirdo lyrics…push into your signature bluesy thing.  Make it contemporary.”  All the judges love the result.  “See the beastly dude come out!” says Adam.  “Having fun…keep doing it!”  Blake adds, “To see you smile and have fun, that was really important.”  Pharrell says, “One of the craziest performances we’ve ever seen!”  Gwen caps the praise with, “If I were fifteen and in high school now, you’d be all over my locker!”

10.  Chris Jamison selects a current Bruno Mars song, “Uptown Funk,” explaining how it will be able to show he’s an entertainer as well as a singer.  He is a good match for the Mars vibe.  However, he’s still here only because his coach Adam saved him in the semi-finals, and he may be unable to compete with the field, especially with someone similar like Luke Wade.  Adam comments, “The team I have are guys that aren’t afraid to do something different.”

Next week comes the final eight.  Based on what we’ve seen of voting patterns, Ryan and Chris are in trouble, but all the women are looking vulnerable, too.


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Dancing with the Stars – S19 E13 – Recap 11/24/14

November 25th, 2014 · No Comments

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Survivor – Blood Vs. Water – San Juan Del Sur – Recap – 11/19/14

November 20th, 2014 · No Comments

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The Voice: Season 7, Final 12, 11/17/14

November 18th, 2014 · No Comments

Already the final rounds–when the audience votes for favorites–have started on The Voice Season 7.  “The top twelve are fighting to stay in!” announces host Carson Daly.  This final field may be the strongest The Voice has ever seen because there are at least six potential winners.  Even American Idol hasn’t seen a final twelve like this in several seasons.

1.  Sugar Joans of Team Pharrell starts the evening with “Take Me to the River.”  Pharrell calls her an Italian girl singing soul.  In judges’ comments afterward, Gwen complains she may be too retro.

 2.  Ryan Sill of Team Gwen is the last of several teen idol types who made a splash early this season.  He picks a nineties Duran Duran song, “Ordinary World” and pours emotion into it.  Gwen advises him to look like James Dean.  After the performance, Adam and Pharrell praise how well rock fits the singer.  “The way you gotta go!” Adam says.  Gwen adds, “So perfect, I hope everyone understands now why I saved you.”  She picked him over her other teen type, Ricky Manning, but will he be able to overcome needing her save last week?

3.  Jessie Pitts of Team Blake sings “Don’t You Worry, Child.”  Blake says, “Jessie brings something to The Voice that really needs to be here, that indy artist sound.”  Of course there are a few other indy artists this season but Jessie is Blake’s artist in that style.  He also says her artistry reminds him of his wife Miranda Lambert.

4.  Damian is the only black male vocalist left in the field. Adam, in coaching mode, advises him to “do passion” this week. His assignment for the one-time TSA agent:  sing “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother.”  Adam appears to have a habit of dusting off half-forgotten seventies’ hits, and this one proves to be a great song choice.  The performance has a gospel flavor, leading Pharrell to declare, “I don’t know which’ll be prouder, the church or Donny Hathaway!”

5.  DaNica Shirey (her name’s more like “Da-nica” than Dan-ica) sings a sultry soulful version of Radiohead’s “Creep.”  Pharrell, her team coach, says she has to juxtaposition alt and soul, that she needs to sing it like Al Green.  (“Give that record to Al Green!” he admonishes.)  Adam in particular loves the result, “Every song ever written, you can sing every one!” he gushes.

6.  Carson Daly calls Taylor John Williams pop-folk.  Like Pitts, he’s one of this season’s alt reps  Adam isn’t the only coach that apparently likes to go back to half-forgotten seventies-era hits.  Gwen, as team coach, assigns Williams  the haunting rock ballad “If” by Bread.  She says it shows his dark side, but she wants him to stay away from his bluesy side.  This performance proves one of his best, and one of the best of anyone this season.  He conjures up an intimacy that reaches clear out of the TV–like he’s breaking the PA, but in a good way.  Afterwards Adam gets technical and says, “A song in a major key!” then adds, “delicate, different, the purity in your voice came through!”  Pharrell praises how Williams brought out the tenderness in the song.  Gwen sums up, “He’s a great singer and he’s cute!”

7.  Reagan James of Team Blake is this season’s teen-appeal girl.  She turned 16 last week and Blake brought her some flowers to celebrate.  She’s one of several soulful singers–black, white, male, female–this season.  Blake assigns her some contemporary R&B, “It Ain’t Over ’til it’s Over” by Lenny Kravitz.  Afterwards Adam notes, “Totally different from the original!”  Blake adds, “The way you navigate a melody just blows my mind.  You don’t copy anything.”

8.  Luke Wade of Team Pharrell takes on “Thinking out Loud,” modern R&B with a classic sound.  Pharrell advises him to make it like a contemporary record.  Wade chooses to play guitar and make it a singer-songwriter type of performance, more alt than he’s previously done.  After the performance, the judges spend much time discussing how he came in a few beats early but recovered.  Pharrell raves, “Hashtag Luke-ified again!”

9.  When Matt McAndrew meets with his team coach Adam, they spend time comparing tattoos.  The song choice is very contemporary, the goth-flavored alt-rock “Take me to Church” by Hozier. The geeky-looking rocker turns in a performance that mixes up Elvis Costello and Jim Morrison–but it works. Pharrell and Gwen both rave about how they want to buy the record.  Pharrell exclaims, “If I was KROQ [the world-famous alt radio station] I’d be callin’ right now!”  Adam proclaims that’s a guy that can win the show.  He’s probably not going anywhere for a few rounds at least.

10.  This season’s other really-rocks rocker is Craig Wayne Boyd of Team Blake, but tonight he shows his softer, more tender country side, singing George Strait’s “You Look so Good in Love.”  Blake coaches that he wants a “full-on heartthrob moment.”  Afterward Blake proclaims a “breakout moment, two in a row–every time you get on stage you show a different side, you take it to a new level.”

11.  Last singer for Team Adam is Chris Jamison.  Adam gives him “Jealous” by Nick Jonas, saying it’s a song the girls will like.  Jamison gives it a soulful, bluesy feel, and even wears a suit for a little bit of a cocktail jazz effect.  Afterwards Pharrell proclaims, “100% your best performance!”  He also notes the singer’s effortless falsetto.  (Jamison does sound a little like his coach, so maybe we’ll hear him do a Maroon 5 song.)  Gwen calls the song perfect and notes the screaming girls in the audience.

12.  Last singer of the night is Anita Antoinette of Team Gwen.  I’d picked her to be one of the weaker contestants but tonight she shows some similarity to former Voice winner Tessanne Chin.  She takes on the great Bob Marley classic, “Redemption Song” and evokes her memories of life in Jamaica.  Gwen says it’s Anita’s chance to share her story with America.

There were so many great performances, I voted for half the field–McAndrew, Jamison, Pitts, Sill, James, and Williams.  It’s likely who’s cut tonight is someone who didn’t establish a large voting base last week, but the public could prove fickle.  The field will be down to ten next week.      

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