Lip Sync Battle – The Voice Edition

photo from NBC.com

photo from NBC.com

There’s no other way to say it – yesterday was a tremendously shitty day for me. I had one of those days where nothing really seems to go your way and you wind up questioning your abilities and judgment. It was simply not a great 24 hours and by the time I got home from work last night I was truly and utterly defeated. A pep talk from a friend helped restore some of my confidence, but as I continued my marathon of The Roosevelts I still was all sorts of melancholy.

So, of course, Jimmy Fallon knew exactly what I needed to put a smile temporarily back on my face – a lip sync battle!

I’ve written before about how much I enjoy these segments on The Tonight Show and I’m glad that they are using them sparingly; I don’t know that I would ever actually tire of them, but I like that these bits are an unexpected surprise. Since I’ve been struggling with insomnia all this week due to stress – I’ve managed about 12 hours of sleep over the last 4 days – I’ve been able to watch my late night shows live rather on DVR at a later date, so I was able to experience the awesomeness that is an unexpected lip sync battle first hand. It snapped me out of my wallowing for a bit and was just what the doctor ordered. I don’t watch The Voice regularly and I’m lukewarm at best to Gwen Stefani, but she and Blake Shelton did a fabulous job, so kudos to them. “Call Me Maybe” is a guilty pleasure of mine, so that only increased the awesomeness of this whole endeavor in my opinion. I’m thankful to anything that gives me some reprieve from feeling awful; I’ll even forgive Stefani for her butchering of my pal Colbert’s name at the Emmys after this. Shelton is a regular guest on The Tonight Show and proves that once again he is game for anything.

Check it out for yourself:

 

John Krasinski’s lip sync will always be my favorite because he was first and because I have *ahem* strong feelings for Mr. Krasinski, but Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani were more than admirable combatants. Actually, they have yet to have a lip sync battle that wasn’t great. Let’s hope the streak continues.

Don’t forget…I’m blogging this month to raise awareness and funds for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. If you enjoyed this post or the blog in general, please consider making a donation on the blog’s fundraising page. So much gratitude to those that have already donated – we’ve surpassed my first fundraising goal!

Odds and Ends – Almost June edition

Sorry folks…I don’t have much in way of a snappy intro this week. I don’t know if all this dreary and rainy weather is sapping my enthusiasm or if it is just because I’ve been so busy, but the creative juices just aren’t flowing like normal today. So I’ll skip the long intro – that’s not what you’re here for anyway – and just get to the main event. Enjoy your biweekly roundup of all things pop!

  • Congrats to Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul and his new bride, who were married last weekend. He seems like a very down to earth guy. We should be pals.
  • Gael Garcia Bernal will star in Jon Stewart’s directorial debut.
  • I had no idea that people were this into Vin Diesel – 14 pieces of fan art featuring the actor. Da Vinci’s Diesel is easily my favorite:

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  • Sounds like earlier reports might have been incorrect – Sam Mendes appears to be back in the picture to direct the next Bond movie. Yay! He did a great job with Skyfall.
  • Oh NBC – you shouldn’t be spelling the name of one of your stars wrong in the credits:

Smash

 

  • I posted this on the blog’s Facebook page, but it bears repeating – Jimmy Fallon’s Game of Desks skit:

 

  • Will Smith and his son Jaden reunited with some familiar faces during this appearance on The Graham Norton Show:

I’ve seen enough clips from this show to make me think I should be tuning in. They seem to have a lot of fun.

  • Ellen Degeneres had a mini Friends reunion:

 

  •  A LEGO Lord Voldemort goes wand shopping:

 

  • If the measure of success is having a walking tour and adult film based on your show, than Girls has definitely made it.
  • A new Kelly Clarkson video has been released:

 

  • Ke$ha drank her own pee on her reality show, which got the Parents Television Council all up in arms.
  • I’m very excited for this – Starz has announced the debut date for their show The White Queen, based on Philippa Gregory best-selling novel series The Cousins’ War.
  • These guys did a homemade version of the Clock Tower Scene in Back to the Future:

 

  • I have been to exactly zero of Esquire’s best bars in America. That is kind of a tragedy. I’ll have to add these to my travel folder along with restaurants from Man vs. Food and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
  • This is nice – after fans bought gifts from his registry, Washington Redskins QB RG3 sent them handwritten thank you notes. That’s better than some of my friends have done – I’m still waiting for thank you notes from a handful of weddings over the years. So tacky.
  • This 4 year old knows more about Marvel Superhero trivia than I ever will:

 

  • There’s going to be a Paula Deen museum. Sadly, it is in Albany, GA not Albany, NY.
  • My beloved tolerated Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo has been done up to look like the home of the Giants for a movie. I find that kind of insulting; it’s one thing to be a stand in for a fake team, but quite another to be made to look like another NFL team plays there.
  • Ryan Gosling’s latest film was booed at the Cannes Film Fesival.
  • Uproxx has the top 100 network shows for the 2012-13 television season. Interesting that several shows that were cancelled actually had higher ratings than Community (including Happy Endings).

And as always, we wrap up with the mashups and uppercuts:

  •  A mashup of Daft Punk and Soul Train:

 

  • Not to be outdone, a Mad Men/Daft Punk mashup:

 

  • And to complete the Daft Punk trifecta: “Get Lucky” played on the banjo:

 

  • Beer of Thrones:

I can assure you this doesn’t happen when you drink the actual Game of Thrones beer.

 

  • A supercut of dancing in movies:

 

  • A Minecraft made trailer for Man of Steel:

 

  • A supercut of video games and arcades in film:

 

 

  • Jane Austen’s Fight Club:

 

  • A mashup of the theme from Space Jam and Titanic greatly improves the latter:

 

  • And finally, since Memorial Day weekend marks the kickoff of summer, a remix of summer-themed songs:

Heather Watches The Voice

One of the things that happens when you are on vacation and stay with other people is that you relinquish control of what you watch on TV. For most people this is probably not a big deal, but for someone like me that is no small thing. I will admit that on more than one night while I was away I wound up staying up well after everyone else had gone to sleep with my headphones plugged into my Nexus tablet, catching up on my shows on Hulu. You can’t expect me to quit cold turkey.

However, I like to think I am a very polite house guest, so I would not subject other people to my TV preferences or rigorous viewing schedule. I was ready to go with the flow; whatever everyone else was watching, I would watch. So I saw a lot of daytime TV that I am not normally home to watch, like the Today Show (Kathie Lee and Hoda are insane) and Good Morning America. I watched the local news, which I never watch at home. And the first night that I arrived in Florida, I watched The Voice.

Now, I’ve been pretty vocal about the fact that I don’t like reality talent competitions. They just aren’t my thing. I haven’t historically paid much attention to America’s Got Talent, X Factor, American Idol or The Voice beyond the constant rotation of celebrities that are judges. But when in Rome……so I settled in to politely smile through my first episode of The Voice if necessary and hold my sometimes overly critical opinion to myself.

So the fact that I actually enjoyed The Voice was a nice bonus. And believe me, no one was more surprised by that then me.

Now I was vaguely aware of how the show worked with the blind auditions; I don’t think that you can watch any amount of programming on NBC and not pick up on the basic concept of the show from the many promos that air. The visual of the judges spinning around in their giant egg-like space age chairs was one I was familiar with. I knew that each judge formed a team, but I wasn’t really sure of the specifics beyond that – what happened when multiple judges wanted a contestant? How many people were on a team? Did the judges have to turn their chair or could they all pass on a contestant?

I’ll admit that as the show started I was pretty skeptical; the focus on the often sad or challenging backstories for the contestants reminded me too much of the contrived narrative of the Olympics (and we all know how I feel about the Olympics). For talent shows, I am only really interested in the actual talent. I don’t want to be manipulated to root for someone because they have had a tough life. They should get through on merit, not based on who has the saddest personal history. I know that some people really eat that stuff up, but I am not one of those people.

Thankfully, The Voice keeps that stuff to a relative minimum and the judges are apparently unaware of all this information during the audition. They do not converse with the contestant before the audition; they don’t even know the person’s name or gender or if there are multiple people or if it is a solo act. On more than one occasion, the judges have been quite surprised when they turn their chair at the end of the song; the voice and the appearance of the contestant to not always match the judges’ expectations. The determination of whether to send the person on to the next round really does seem to be based primarily on the strength of their performance.

What really struck me about The Voice was the chemistry of the four judges. Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and newcomers Shakira and Usher (replacing Christina Aguilera and Cee-Lo) all seem to really like each other. While they are competing against each other, there is a lot of playful banter in their exchanges. Watching the judges interact is a lot of fun; I can’t say that I was a huge fan of any of them before watching The Voice, but I have a lot of goodwill toward each of them after watching the show. They seem genuinely interested in helping others in the industry. It may all be an act, but they really give the appearance that they want to be there and that they want The Voice audition to be a positive experience for everyone, even the people who are not selected to compete on the show. I’ve always found the audition process on American Idol to be a little mean spirited; some of the people that are selected to perform for the judges are obviously there for the audience to laugh at and the judges’ input is not always constructive criticism. From what I’ve seen of The Voice, no one has been put on television who is truly terrible. Some of the performances are slightly shaky and uneven, but I don’t think I’ve seen anyone that completely lacks talent. For those who don’t turn any chairs, their exchange with the judges at the end has uniformly been professional and encouraging; the judges often appear to feel terrible that the person wasn’t chosen and provide useful feedback on what people need to do to improve. Almost everyone is encouraged to audition again in the future after making a few adjustments and I don’t think I’ve seen an exchange where the judges have been unable to give the unsuccessful contestant some sort of compliment as well. The Voice has a surprisingly positive vibe for a reality show. The judges really appear to want people to succeed.

The Voice also doesn’t have an annoying host like some of the other programs (cough, cough – Ryan Seacrest – cough cough). I’m never really had a problem with Carson Daly and he is used very sparingly on the show. In fact, you kind of forget that he is there a lot of the time until the camera cuts backstage to get the reaction shot of the friends and family of the person auditioning and suddenly you see Daly hanging out with them. He’s mostly in the background from what I’ve seen and while he isn’t a musician, he has a long history with the music industry and his Last Call with Carson Daly has provided many up and coming musicians a showcase. On some shows, you aren’t even sure why the host is there (Khloe Kardashian-Odom, anyone?). Carson skulks around behind the scenes and pops up when necessary. That’s what a host should do.

I’ll admit that I was intrigued enough about my first experience with The Voice that I have watched several more episodes since I’ve returned home and now have full control over the television. I’ve seen most of the blind auditions, but haven’t seen any episodes of the actual competition. Depending on how that is structured and executed, I may not enjoy the show as much. I also can’t say that I was super invested in any of the contestants; there are definitely some talented people competing, but I think the draw for me is always going to be the judges more than the performers. With my busy schedule, I don’t know that I’ll go out of my way to keep up with the show and make it part of my regular rotation. However, when there is nothing else on and I want to watch something that doesn’t require my full attention, I would definitely consider watching a few episodes of the show on demand in the future. I am curious by what “stealing” a contestant from another person’s team entails. My positive experience with episodes of The Voice doesn’t completely change my stance on reality show talent competitions – I still don’t think these shows are up my alley – but it is nice to know that some of them are much better than others. An hour of Adam Levine isn’t the worst way to spend an evening.

The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesday nights on NBC at 8pm (ET).