After three years of running rampant on the Hot 100, it appears that Glee has finally lost its touch. Last season the show was putting three to four songs on the chart every week. So far this season, after eight episodes, only one track (Coldplay’s “The Scientist”) has sold enough to make it, with no sign that there will be any more.
Still, all silver linings come with their black clouds, and in this case it’s the replacement of Glee on the charts, at least for now, by The Voice. I decided in The Voice’s first season that I wouldn’t review any tracks from the show that made the chart, and the same goes for X Factor and any other singing competition. I still listen, as it’s my painful duty to do, and though the quality of singing from The Voice contestants is higher than Glee, the arrangements and production are worse, and the level of vapidity is roughly the same. This is another instance of the single as souvenir, and my only hope is that the show will be over with quickly and they’ll all go away (except for Cee Lo, but he’s leaving the show anyway).
Cassadee Pope—“Over You”
Melanie Martinez—“Seven Nation Army”
George Strait—“Give It All We Got Tonight”
“Give It All We Got Tonight” is fairly standard George Strait, which means it’s smoother and better crafted than most anything else on the country chart right now. It just doesn’t have much life to it. And the crags in Strait’s voice, especially on a ballad like this, are becoming more pronounced. He turned sixty this year, which in country means that he could easily carry on his career for another fifteen years, at least. But if he does that he may need to find a new style that fits more closely to the contours of his voice. He might also want to pick songs less obviously designed for twenty-somethings.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals—“Stars”
It’s not fair to judge Potter by “Stars”, which has reached the chart thanks to being featured on The Voice. Her specialty lies more in country, rock, and blues, where she’s impressive if not always great. This is in the same ballpark, only it’s less impressive , and nowhere near great.
Wiz Khalifa featuring The Weeknd—“Remember You”
The Weeknd is destined to go down in history as the guy who gave falsettos a bad name. A technique that’s normally used to express the extremes of emotion—love, passion, ecstasy, frustration, longing, etc.—is turned in his hands into nothing more than another manipulative tool, a way of getting his chosen one into bed. Not that falsettos haven’t been used this way before, but this is the only way The Weeknd uses it. Underneath the crooning, lover man facade is a hardcore, old school misogynist, who expects you to do whatever he wants, and lets you know that if you don’t meet his expectations he won’t even remember you. Not that he’d remember much of you anyway, especially your name, but at least you’d have some glimmer of reward from your night with a future star. That’s something, right? Oh, wait. You say this is a Wiz Khalifa record? I didn’t even notice.
Hunter Hayes—“Somebody’s Heartbreak”
Hayes gets some points for being a teen prodigy who doesn’t emphasize his age or pick songs that flaunt it. Unfortunately, that also means his music needs to avoid the sexual openness of modern country, and much of it sounds generic and uninspired. And when the youthfulness of his voice does come through the disconnect can be overwhelming. He’s a careerist for sure, and he’ll most likely be around for a while, but I’m not hearing anything promising.