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12 Best Live Musical Moments of 2012   Leave a comment

Hi everybody! It’s back to work day today. Luckily for me, I’m not required to go back to work yet (I still have my work from home card on me. Hahaha). January is a busy month for me as an awards prognosticator, as we’ll have the American award giving bodies steamroll one after the other. On January 10, nominations will finally be unveiled. So expect my last update for the nominations and the final predictions in the coming days.

As for now, forgive my late posts, but I’ll post the remaining 2012 year-end lists that I had. I still have three lists remaining (this one included), so just for effort’s sake, I’ll still be doing a write up of each. For this one, we’ll be focusing on the different musical moments that were created the past year. A live performance can make or break an artist. Think of Ashlee Simpson in Saturday Night Live or Lana Del Rey, who was once poised to be the next big thing… until we saw her SNL number. Then we have the likes of Lady Gaga who tops each performance she have bringing her artistry with each live performance that she does.

With that said, here are 12 musical moments that we’d sure remember from 2012:

You can click the name of the performance and it will bring you to the YouTube clip of it. 

pink

12: Pink, (“Try”) – American Music Awards 2012

Pink has already solidified herself as one of the best live acts among her contemporaries. Who can ever forget her Grammy performance of Glitter in the Air in 2009? That definitely is one of the best performances to ever grace the Grammy stage. This year, she did the whole acrobatic thing once again, but with a different approach; Pink, barefooted and with patches of paint all over her body, with a partner were just doing random catching and splitting and lifting in an interpretative dance-like number of her new single, Try. And to top things off, her vocals was spot on during the whole number. Amazing, really.

alicia keys
11: Alicia Keys, (“Brandy New Me/No One”) – 12-12-12 Hurricane Sandy Concert

New York native  Alicia Keys was one of the hundreds of singers who volunteered to be a part of the Hurricane Sandy concert last December 12. Belting out a crossover of the songs Brandy New Me and No One, it was such a delight to hear her just like how she used to slay them all off. And don’t you just love how she invited the whole audience to raise their phones during the No One part? Plus, her intro about how she was raised and how she’ll forever love New York is just the icing on top of this sweet cake.
rihanna
10: Rihanna, (“Diamonds”) – Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2012

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is probably the meanest event of every year, as it makes all women worldwide feel bad about themselves. But if there’s one good thing that it has given us this year, it’s Rihanna’s performance of Diamonds.  Clad in a Adam Selman creation with Chanel vintage pearl sungless from Depuis to boot, Riri is every inch a model herself as she belts out one of the catchiest songs of 2012.

esperanza spalding

09: Esperanza Spalding, (“What a Wonderful World”) – 84th Academy Awards

Grammy Best New Artist Esperanza Spalding led the In Memoriam segment at last year’s Academy Awards with her rendition of What A Wonderful World. Together with the Southern California Children, this jazzy yet really touching performance as Esperanza served as background voice while pictures of the departed from Sidney Lumet to Elizabeth Taylor were flashing is one of the best highlights of the year.

psy

08: PSY and MC Hammer, (“Gangnam Style”) – American Music Awards 2012

Definitely the biggest song worldwide this 2012, Gangnam Style by Korean singer PSY has been literally everywhere the past few months. From CNN to the Europe Music Awards, it was also the most overperformed song of the year. What makes this number a stand out among all the endless versions of this is that it has MC Hammer in it. It can be credited as a number of one hit wonders, but I’m sure everyone was up their feet during this closing number at the American Music Awards.

christina aguilera

07: Christina Aguilera, (“At Last”) – Etta James Funeral

It was January of 2012 when we  lost one of the many music legends the past year. Etta James, more known as the singer of classics such as At Last and I’d Rather Be Blind, passed away due to a hepatitis C. Of course, there’s no one more fitting to perform her instant classic than one of the best vocals of the younger generation and a self proclaimed fan of the late Etta James herself, Christina Aguilera. Christina belted out At Last in true Etta fashion, and leaking spray tan issues aside, this performance got a standing ovation even before it ended.

jessica sanchez jennifer holliday

06: Jessica Sanchez and Jennifer Holliday, (“And I am Telling You I’m Not Going”) – American Idol Season 11 Finale

Despite the fact that Jessica Sanchez wasn’t crowned the Idol title during its eleventh season, this goosebumps performance of her and one of her most vocal fans, Tony winner and Broadway legend Jennifer Holliday, of the iconic diva song And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going sent shivers all over the world. It was one thing to do a number of it, but it’s another to diva-off with the original singer herself. Now if only they invited Jennifer Hudson as well, all roofs would have been blown after that performance.

The Voice

05: Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, CeeLo Green, and Christina Aguilera, (“Hallelujah”) – The Voice Finale Performance Night

The aftermath of the Connecticut shootings left the whole world in shock, but more so, in tears. Thus, it was expected that all shows would pay tribute to the countless lives that we lost there. Probably the best tribute that I’ve seen was the two minute version of Hallelujah by the four The Voice coaches. Together with the rest of the finalists (both eliminated and not), hosts Carson Daly and Christina Millian, each of them holds a name tag with the names of the victims of the shooting. Then we’d hear Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, CeeLo Green, and Christina Aguilera belt out this Leonard Cohen classic. It was simple, heartfelt, and I bet there’s not a dry eye in the room that night.

adele

04: Adele, (“Rolling in the Deep”) – Grammy Awards 2012

Yes, we’ve all heard that she was under operation because of too much smoking during the last year of 2011. But like a true pro, you know that we’d still hear that voice back. And there’s no better way than to showcase it to the world with a performance of her Grammy winning song Rolling in the Deep at the Grammy Awards itself. Not only was she the Queen of Grammys that night (winning a perfect six trophies out of six nominations), but this performance received a long standing ovation with everyone from Rihanna to Sir Paul McCartney cheering for her.

Spice Girls

03: Spice Girls, (“Wanna Be/Spice Up Your Life”) – 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony

90s kids, represent!!!! London did a really good job hosting the Olympics this year with their showstopping opening and closing ceremonies. What takes the cake though is the reunion performance of the Spice Girls doing a medley of Wanna Be and Spice Up Your Life on top of cars as they go around the huge stadium. It might take a long time before we see this again, so I guess we’d have to cherish this performance as if it’s the last.

Jennifer Hudson

02: Jennifer Hudson, (“I Will Always Love You”) – Grammy Awards 2012

A day before the actual Grammy Awards ceremony, the whole world was stunned when news broke out that The Voice herself Whitney Houston passed away. That’s probably the most difficult thing to hear on a day before music’s biggest night. So with no time left to do a tribute, it was just a simple number. But Oscar and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson made sure that it will be a tribute that will never be forgotten. Just Whitney’s picture, a mic stand, and her soaring vocals in one of the most popular songs ever, Whitney definitely was smiling up from the heavens after this performance.

Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show

01: Madonna (with LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, MIA, and Ceelo Green), (“Vogue, Music, Party Rock Anthem, Sexy and I Know It, Gimme All Your Luvin, Like a Prayer”) – Superbowl 2012 Halftime Show

And let’s all bow down to The Queen. Proving that she is still a force to be reckoned with, Queen of Pop Madonna showed all these artists how it’s actually done when she performed at the halftime of the Superbowl this February. With matching visual floors and coming from a throne, there’s no entertainer more fitting to do this year’s job than Madonna. Singing a medley of her most prominent hits from Vogue to Music to Like a Prayer, and inviting friends like LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, MIA, and CeeLo Green, this fourteen minute performance is nothing but a showstopper, all provided to you by Madonna herself.

What were your favorite performances from the list? Did you think I missed something? Pipe them in below at the Comments section.

And as always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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20 Best Performances from The Voice Season 2   5 comments

Now that Season 2 is finally over, and that the weeks leading to the finale became one surprise after the other, we go back and reminisce the performances that made indelible mark not only for that specific season, but in the history of the show. As a matter of fact, many performances here are some of the best I’ve witnessed in the history of any reality singing show. Here are twenty of them:

20. Justin Hopkins, Tony Vincent, ” Faithfully” (Battle Rounds Week 4) 

The last battle during the Battle Rounds went out with a bang as two big voiced rocker men belted out Journey’s classic Faithfully. I love how the song sets them up both for a grand spectacle that blends well with Cee-Lo’s theatrics. It’s pretty apparent that Tony Vincent will be the one chosen, but I specifically preferred  Justin Hopkins here.

19. Jamie Lono, “Folsom Prison Blues” (Blind Auditions)

The sandwich boy back story was just a cherry on the top of the cake when it comes to Jamie Lono’s audition. It was obvious from the start that it was his voice that will make the coaches press their buttons for him. Sadly, his journey ended too soon, as I think we haven’t seen the last of him yet.

18.Lindsey Pavao, “Skinny Love” (Live Rounds, Week 5)

After two weeks of going current and mainstream, Lindsey Pavao went out with a bang as she goes back to her roots with simply a guitar in her version of Skinny Love. Plus points to anybody who sings Bon Iver and /or Birdy in a singing competition.

17. Jamar Rogers, Juliet Simms, Katrina Parker, Tony Lucca, “All These Things That I’ve Done” (Live Rounds, Week 5)

Despite not working under the same team, Team Cee-Lo’s Jamar and Juliet blended well with Team Adam’s Katrina and Tony in this The Killers song during the Top 8 week. This is probably one of the best group songs in any singing reality competition.

16. Jordis Unga, “A Little But Stronger ” (Live Rounds, Week 3)

It’s sad to hear that Blake Shelton decided to cut Jordis Unga off her team after her best performance on the show yet. Her A Little But Stronger is the closest she came to her Rockstar INXS days. It was raw, poignant, and emotional and definitely deserving of another week in the comeptition.

15. Jermaine Paul, “I Believe I Can Fly” (Finale)

R. Kelly’s staple song is one of the most cliched records to ever use in any singing competition especially when you are in the finale. However, Jermaine Paul’s version made it grand and gave us goosebumps as if he was really singing the time of his life here.

14. Katrina Parker,  “Jar of Hearts” (Live Rounds, Week 4)

Since Adam clearly doesn’t know what to do with her, it took until the Top 8 before she finally got her biggest break in the show. Jar of Hearts is a very difficult song to sing and while Katrina’s version is not perfect, it molds to highlight the best thing about what the show is about. After this performance, America fell in love with Katrina and I really wish she should have gone to the finale.

13. Ashley dela Rosa, “Paris Ooh LaLa” (Last Chance Performance)

Ashley dela Rosa is your typical cannon fodder. Her audition wasn’t shown, yet she made it ti the Battle Rounds. She went in to the Live Shows and she was saved by her coach Christina Aguilera. After her Paris Ooh LaLa performance, it was already clear that Ashley ahs a hidden talent not only in her voice but with her choice of songs as well.

12. Chris Mann/Christina Aguilera, “The Prayer” (Finale)

It’s difficult to outsing Christina Aguilera. That’s probably one of the easiest tips one can give any The Voice aspirant. Somehow, Chris Mann and Christina Aguilera made magic together in this finale duet of The Prayer that I’m willing to forgive the pressure of anybody who’s nervous for a possible nip slip from Xtina.

11. Pip, “House of the Rising Sun” (Blind Auditions)

American Idol’s Haley Reinhart gave one of her best performance last season when she performed this song. However, Pip gave it his own spin this season. Bowtie issues aside, clearly everyone fell in love with this performing including the four coaches who all pressed their buzzers for him.

10. Jamar Rogers, “Seven Nation Army” (Blind Auditions)

It’s sad that Jamar Rogers was never given this rich material by his coach during the Live Shows. His choice of a White Stripes song during his audition certainly got the attention of eventual coach CeeLo Green. One makes you wonder why the other coaches did not turn their chairs around for him when this is clearly one of the best audition pieces this season.

9. Charlotte Sometimes, “Apologize” (Blind Auditions)

Charlotte Sometimes may tend to be polarizing when it comes to her attitude in the show (I, for one, really love her), and while her stint on the show was disrupted very quickly, her Apologize audition piece is one of the few brilliant auditions this season that received a four chair turn from all the coaches.

8. Tony Lucca, “Trouble” (Blind Auditions)

See my comment for Jamar Rogers and replace him with Tony Lucca, and replace CeeLoGreen with Adam Levine. Tony has been a very controversial figure on the show, and it was all for the wrong reasons. Had we seen more of this Tony like his audition segment, or his Devil Town single, then I don’t think the issue of being one dimensional will ever be brought out this season.

7. Jesse Campbell, “A Song for You” (Blind Auditions)

While this is one of the most overrated audition pieces in the show, there’s no denying that this voice is certainly deserving of a mention in the list. Jesse Campbell’s rendition of this Donny Hathaway classic is indeed one of the best renditions that has ever done of this song in any reality competition program.

6.Juliet Simms, “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” (Live Rounds, Week 6)

Certainly, no one can touch Christina Aguilera’s version of the song as its best rendition in recent years, but there’s something raw and emotional about Juliet’s version that makes you feel that she means every word being sung in this number. While Roxanne made her the frontrunner, this one cemented her status in the finale.

5. Blake Shelton, Jermaine Paul, “Soul Man” (Finale)

What’s good about this number is that it highlighted Jermaine Paul’s strength as a vocalist. And his connection with his coach was the highest point of this number. It was fun and entertaining and merits a spot in the list.

4. Jermaine Paul, Jamar Rogers, Pip, James Massone, “I Want You Back” (Finale)

The best thing about the finale is that it brings back contestants of the show who didn’t manage to make it until the end. This is one of them. Jermaine Paul bring back Jamar Rogers, Pip, and a very likable James Massone in this Jackson 5 number which is a standout in that very long season finale.

3. Lidnsey Pavao – Say Aah (Blind Auditions)

In what I call as the best audition piece for this season, Lindsey Pavao managed to transform a forgettable Trey Songz track into something that is cool, edgy, and hip. Add the fact that this Katy Perry slash Kristen Stewart crossover has a knack of  making the bubblegum pop songs with a more interesting and mysterious approach.

2. Juliet Simms, “Roxanne” (Live Rounds, Week 2)

There is something about this legendary The Police track song that makes things better than what they’re supposed to be. The last time we’ve heard is in that twisted Community episode. The next time we’ve heard it is when Juliet Simms sang the hell out of the song during her first Live Show performance, and the rest, as they say, is history.

1. Jessie Campbell/Anthony Evans, “If I Ain’t Got You” (Battle Rounds, Round 1)

People always hear the saying “bringing down the house”, and this is a clear example of that. Both Jessie Campbell and Anthony Evans sang it as if there’s no tomorrow, and even original singer Alicia Keys can’t stop herself from tweeting how great it was. There’s no stopping this performance, and this is certainly deserving of the top spot.

Do you agree with what’s in the list? What are your favorite numbers this season? Chime them in at the Comments section. 🙂

REVIEW: The Voice   4 comments

As far as reality shows go, to do a singing competition is pretty much the toughest to maintain especially since America’s most watched TV show for the past few years is a singing reality competition. So when a show like NBC’s The Voice premiered this summer, everyone took it with a grain of salt. However, no one saw that this is probably the most refreshing, and best musical competition existing right now.

It all started with the blind auditions. Probably gimmicky to some, but this is the perfect way to gain steam and for the show to leave an impact to its viewers. For two weeks, we saw  the judges pressed that buttons, sell themselves, and even gave second chances to some (poor Joann Rizzo, probably my favorite reality star this season. LOL).  Battle rounds were more crucial as we said goodbye to many deserving candidates (Rebecca Loebe, Kelsey Rey, Tje Austin) and then we’re off to the Live Shows, where we’ve seen four people go home each week, until we had the final four (one for each team) and ultimately, Javier Colon won as the first “The Voice” of America.

The season went by pretty fast, though it’s pretty expected as this has been the trial season for NBC’s musical hit contest. Rest assured though that Season 2 will have more episodes and and will be on a more moderate pace, as NBC is gonna milk it for what its worth. What’s unexpected though is the awesome chemistry we saw from the four coaches. Who would have thought that Cee-Lo Green, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and Christina Aguilera will have this very playful chemistry that helps provide the energy of the show. Not only did we see them train the contestants themselves, but we have seen another part of their personality regarding their own personal experiences in this business. That will remain as one of the biggest assets of this show, and I’m glad to know that all coaches will be back for Season 2. It has also been a very good platform in promoting themselves and their music. I’m pretty confident that Blake Shelton is now a household name, and a very famous one. All thanks to the show.

Also, the performances of the finalists are all worth mentioning. Whether it’s the theatrics of Cee-Lo’s group, or the simplicity of Blake’s, the performances were clearly appreciated as we see the coaches be in charge behind the scenes in terms of the overall outcome. That’s why I actually don’t have a problem when they rarely say anything negative during live shows. The coaches can reserve the constructive criticisms on the rehearsals as it is the better venue to do so. it’s not like commenting just for the sake of stirring some fake buzz or showing off favoritism among some finalists. Plus, the songs! OMG, it’s as current as it gets! Who would have thought that a Ke$ha song will ever be sung on a singing competition? Not me, definitely! I love that there are no themes per weeks, and focuses on the strengths of the contestants. After all, they’re newbies, you don’t expect them to be bravura right off the bat.

All in all, this was a very good season for The Voice. The winner was strong, and I’ll even go as far as saying that the top four is extremely good. I wouldn’t be shocked if all four get record deals as I know that their coaches will probably get one for them. There are definitely rooms for improvement (yes, Carson I’m pointing at you), but for a trial freshman season, this went beyond my expectations! Actually when I was watching the last few minutes before the announcement of the winner, I did not feel that I’m watching a competition, but more of a celebration of talent. That’s how effective it is! Kudos to everyone involved! 🙂

Season Grade: solid A

Next post is dedicated to The Voice’s best performances of the season.