Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni
Predicting who will win a reality singing competition is a little like trying to figure out Google analytics. We think we know what works and what doesn't, but at the end of the day, TV audiences are as hard to predict as search engine rankings.
Still, just as we know page traffic, links and social media factor into what we see on Google, we know a few things about what singers need to do to garner votes.
For starters, performers must have talent. The Cassadee Popes, Carrie Underwoods and Leona Lewis' of the world not only excelled on screen, but in the industry, too. In fact, not one inept singer has won "The Voice," "American idol" or "The X Factor." Say what you will about here-today-gone-tomorrow reality show champs Javier Colon, Taylor Hicks and Melanie Amaro. While it's debatable whether or not they received the marketing push needed to "make it" in music, each is undeniably talented.
But it takes more than talent to motivate voters to pick up the phone and vote. America has a type - types, actually. Singers that fit into certain molds are more likely to make it to the end and win. Versatile belters, country darlings, classic rock throwbacks - these are the performers that move audiences to take action.
When the live rounds begin on "The Voice" this week, 20 talented singers will take to the stage hoping to attract enough votes to advance and ultimately find a spot in the season's final episode.
Who will win? Well, our bold prediction is that Team Blake's three-year reign will end when one of the following is named "The Voice." Each of these singers has done - and will continue to do - what it takes to stand out from the pack.
Kat Robichaud (Team CeeLo): From her blind audition through the "Knockouts," Kat has consistently wowed the judges with her strong voice, high-kicks and unique, glam-rockin' persona. She has the chops, the look and the energy to win "The Voice."
What will it take for Kat to win "The Voice"? "Well, for me, I definitely want to show a little softer side, because I feel like ... the past three songs that I've done, they've all been pretty heavy hitting," she said. "And I do have a little - I can sing a little bit prettier than I have been, you know? But I'm looking forward to doing some more recent songs, as well. I'm excited about that."
If she wins ... "I want to make a rock 'n' roll album," Kat said. "You know, I mean, and like a really, really fun rock 'n' roll album with a - I'm sorry, excuse me, I almost cussed. Why not? With a s---load of theatrics. You know, I'm a huge fan of Queen, of David Bowie. I've said that many times. But I also really love the kind of rock 'n' roll that you get from 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show,' you know, and 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch.' I really love the rock operas. ... And I think that Fun, their most recent album, I heard, like, hints of that in their album. And I got really excited about that. And I'm a big fan of them.
"So, yes, that's the kind of album that I would want to put out - something that people can really have fun listening to."
Josh Logan (Team Christina): Each season, audiences get their fill of rockers. This year, Josh, whose sound is distinctly fused with R&B and soul, is the king of rock. The singer, who was gigging full-time pre-"The Voice," knows what it takes to get a crowd on its feet.
What will it take for Josh to win "The Voice"? "I feel pretty good about my performances - in looking back," he said. "I think that the key is consistency in a contest like this with so many talented people. You know, because nerves do play a large role in a game. I'm looking forward to playing an instrument in the future, because I'm a guitarist, as well. And maybe to show, like, some other sides of my voice that people just haven't heard yet. So, honestly, I think that's all I'm looking to do in the next couple of performances."
If he wins ... "I really want to work with some amazing producers," Josh said. "That's why I like to put myself out there. And find someone that knows what I do and wants me to do what I do best. And I think that's the realm of R&B-soul, kind of - something in that light.
"I want to, you know, I want to come out with some positive messages and just (something) tight; really funky at times. I mean, I like to think of my style as pretty versatile. And I'd like whatever I record to reflect that ... to be just something that people want to listen on to see what I'm going to come up with next."
Preston Pohl (Team Adam): Preston's distinctive deep voice has left audiences wondering why he waited so long to become a frontman. The former Seventh Day Slumber band member has been a judges' favorite since day one. In getting to the live shows, he defeated above-average vocalist Barry Black and classical music maven Lina Gaudenzi.
What will it take for Preston to win "The Voice"? "I - you know, you just really have to, once you get to this point in the lives, you know, you really have to bring it, and pour it all out on that stage, you know, and try to get America to vote for you. And that's what it's all about, and maybe America will have you back."
If he wins ... "You know, after 'The Voice,' I just really want to put out something soulful and kick it old school, and you know, record it all analog and just - then just bring some of that old warp that you don't really hear anymore," Preston said. "You know, you don't really hear - when you listen, nobody even says, 'I'm going to get a record or a CD anymore.' It's like, 'I'm just buying this single.' You know? I want to put out something that people will, you know, feel warm when they listen to, you know, and they want to listen to the whole thing front to back ... that's my goal. It's just to bring back a touch of class in the music, you know, and I think that's what people are lacking right now."
Matthew Schuler (Team Christina): Equal parts Trevin Hunte and Jamar Rogers, Matthew is one of the show's best singers, its happiest contestant, and the one who leaves it all on stage (dude likes to sweat!) each round. Since getting four "I Want You" chair turns in his blind audition, Matthew has heard nary a negative word from the coaches.
What will it take for Matthew to win "The Voice"? "Moving forward in the competition, James (Wolpert), Preston and I, like it's - they're really crazy, and we've got some pretty epic performances, to say the least. James and Preston, man, they're ridiculous," Matthew said. "I guess going forward, you know, the voting and you know, when I said it was going live, it's - the pressure's definitely on, you know, for us to continue to do as well as we have. But you know, I think we're all looking at it as a challenge, and it'll be fun, you know, to get up to that."
"This is what we love to do; you know, we're artists; we're musicians; and we're ready for this. So, we're excited," he said.
If he wins ... "Yeah, I actually really agree with Preston a lot. I want to make an album that's, you know, really cohesive, you know, start to finish. I really want to be a storyteller. Like, I write so much, like, all the time. Writing is therapy for me, you know, and it's why I sing.
"And I want my music to be therapy for other people. You know, I want it to encourage people. I want it to uplift people. And I love to expand their imagination to extend their minds. You know, I'm really excited about that."
Tessanne Chin (Team Adam): Jamaica's Tessanne also drew four chair turns from the coaches with her blind audition, where she aptly performed "Try." Adam, CeeLo, Christina and Blake called her voice special, powerful and warm. In terms of stage command, they said Tessanne was ahead of the game.
What will it take for Tessanne to win "The Voice"? "I'm looking forward to just really, you know, improving, and, you know, expanding more musically, and seeing what other sounds I can do," she said. "And you know, really making sure to put my stamp on whatever song I do. And to just test other sides the best way I can. So that's my way looking forward."
If she wins ... "For me, it would definitely be like a pop-rock kind of island kind of vibe," Tessanne said of her intended record. "I mean, I absolutely adore Emeli Sandé's new album and people like P!nk and Adele. ... That's the kind of music I'm into. I also love Lana Del Rey.
"So you never know with me. I just want to make good music and lasting music -music that will be around for a very long time, even when I'm not."
Grey (Team Adam): Grey's rockin' pop has impressed the judges thus far. The Berklee-trained wedding singer has the show's biggest head-to-head wins this season, defeating top 20 finalist Nic Hawk in the "Battle Rounds" and four-chair-turn, comeback player of the year James Irwin in the "Knockouts."
Grey was unavailable for comment following the "Knockouts," but previously told BTS, "You know, as far as, like, what's prepared me, I think it's just, you know, I constantly put myself in these uncomfortable situations. Like, I'm constantly auditioning for things, and I think the more you do that, the better you get at it, and the pressure seems to, you know, not, like, fade, but you kind of know what to expect going into it."
The Dark Horses
Olivia Henken (Team Christina): Olivia's goal in entering "The Voice" was to show she's more than a pretty face. So far, she's done just that, attracting the ear of both Christina and CeeLo in the blind audition, and then outperforming powerhouse singer Stephanie Anne Johnson in the "Battle Rounds" and versatile performer Destinee Quinn in the "Knockouts."
The country artist is no stranger to this type of platform, having entered more than 100 singing competitions.
Why Christina chose Olivia, and what the competitor will do in the live shows: "Yes, it was definitely emotional," Olivia said. "(Christina) paired us together for the country artists. And Destinee's been one of my best friends here. I think me, Shelbie and Destinee were, like, the country trio there for a while. But Christina told me that - well there's a lot that wasn't shown, also, but she said that there's something in the way I'm consistent in all my performances.
"She wished that the song I picked actually was a little bit more emotional. She said that it wasn't the song that she we would've picked for me. So that was - when she said those things, (I) obviously didn't think that I ever would win the 'Knockout.' But she said she saw something in my voice that she thinks that I can go on to the next level. And that she wants to help me with song selection.
"And we've done that so far to prepare for lives. So I'm so thankful that she still believed in me enough to keep me around. And what we've done so far to work on lives, I can see where she wanted to take me.
"But with the song selection that I chose, I can see why she thought that. She just wanted to see more emotion and me pretty much pour my heart out on the lineup there instead (of) worrying about belting.
"But it's going good so far working for lives. I'm just super, super thankful that she kept me around long enough to make it to the live (show)."
Will Champlin (Team Adam): Will started the season by getting four chair turns. Since then, Christina and Adam have traded him back and forth, each stealing him once. In the "Knockouts," Will flat-out floored the judges with his dynamic rendition of "When I Was Your Man."
What will it take for Will to win "The Voice"? "You know, I think that, you know, every time I progress forward, I'm always trying to go to the drawing board to see what I have to do next or what do I have to add to my element of surprise that I didn't have before. And not to lose anything or drop anything, but to just keep adding on - like you're building a kingdom, I think. I think, in my opinion, I have to - I have - I feel like I have a lot to prove, you know, and I'm going to do it. I just - I feel that, you know, it's whatever song I did, I have to make it my own, and I have to be original with it."
If he wins ... "During the break (from filming), I went home and I did some writing and producing ... like really trying to hone in and just define my sound," Will said. "It's just - it's cool. I mean, I've been producing and writing, you know, and programming beats and stuff on Ableton Live so much, in like, you know, like, I've had like production and engineering experience for a long time now.
"And that's kind of what I've done before I came here, even partly as, you know, a part-time career as well. And I've just kind of, like, gone in and focused and just tried (to make) the most eclectic-sounding songs I could make, you know. And we're talking, like, really big dubstep beat with some banjo on it and jam with my soul, like, kind of soulful vocal sound over it. And you know, some of the verses are a little bit, like, more lyrical kind of - with melodic rap a little bit. Just kind of carving out a niche that's somewhere between, I'd say, like Alex Clare, Matisyahu, a little Timberlake and Black Keys and AWOLNATION, maybe a little bit. That's the kind of sound I'm trying to go for."
"The Voice" airs Monday at 8 p.m., Tuesday at 9 p.m., and Thursday at 8 p.m., on NBC. For more on the show, visit www.nbc.com/the-voice.