Friday, June 8, 2012

Nothin' But the Reality Thing, Baby: An Interview with Erin Willett ("The Voice" )

The hit singing competition show The Voice, being on NBC after all, really has a thing for amping up contestants' hardship stories, much like its coverage of the Olympics. It's as if there's concern that the intensity of competition and the thrill of witnessing top artists demonstrate their skills aren't enough to keep viewers interested without the added drama of a little personal tragedy tossed in. Well, when it comes to that reality television dream combination of talent and gut-punching dramatic arc, they don't get much better than Erin Willett, the 23-year-old Maryland native with a big voice and fantastic screen presence who made it to the semifinals on the team of judge/coach Blake Shelton, losing out to the ultimate winner of the program, Jermaine Paul.

In the Blind Audition episode, we learned that Willett's father Chuck, who was a musician himself and who appeared in the episode, had been recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. In the episode in which Willett faced teammate and friend Gwen Sebastian in one of the toughest Battle Rounds, emotionally and talent-wise, Willett learned that her father was in his final days. After conferring with Shelton, who had also just lost his own father, she decided to remain on the show, and Shelton selected her to advance in a tearful, bittersweet decision at the end of the episode; the final credits began with a dedication to Chuck Willett, who had passed by the show's air date. Dry eyes were in short supply.

The Ke$ha Project - "I Taste Like a Cherry" (Unreleased - New Leak, Old Track)

As we all wait with bated breath for the second coming of Ke$ha, we do seem to be thrown our share of bones in the form of unreleased tracks old and new to tide us over and add to the already immense library of unreleased Ke$ha music available. After Dr. Luke proudly unleashed a thirty-second snippet of a song from the upcoming LP on Wednesday, today we get "I Taste Like a Cherry," an old unreleased track (from the pre-Animal days, almost certainly) as a little, well, cherry on top.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Popologist Panel: Adam Lambert, Azealia Banks, Ke$ha

My critical opinion is obviously par excellence, but so much of it is informed by the intelligent critical thinking done about pop music (yes, it does happen elsewhere, however rarely) by some of my peers and leaders in this largely online world of specifically mainstream pop music criticism and commentary. Sure, we have links on all our pages to the ones we deem worthy of esteem, but it's hard to get much more than a one-sided stance on any one blog or website (as stellar and educated as that stance may be). Where there's a problem vexing enough, though, Vertigo Shtick does tend to find solutions. Taking notes from (initially) The Singles Jukebox and, more immediately,'s fascinating by-the-sexes weekly recapping of the HBO series Girls, I have pulled together the best and brightest voices on the scene for this debut edition of a new monthly series, the Popologist Panel.

A panel of pop miscreants.
The members of this panel have been hand-selected because not only are they excellent, credible and reliable music writers, I believe that they, in fact, view pop with the kind of critical angle and import that Vertigo Shtick founds itself upon. More importantly, these are people whose opinions about music matter to me, not because I always agree with them, but because they are reasoned - and explained - sufficiently for the thoughtful, open-minded critical thinker to absorb, acknowledge, and ascertain a response. This first panel, which has come together far more splendidly than I'd hoped to imagine, provides perfect example: never do we all agree, nor do the same people always agree or disagree on any one topic or another. That's how you know people are thinking and listening, not just feeling. Feeling is a great and perfectly fine way to approach pop music - I highly recommend it - it just ought not to be distributed as expert critical insight.

For this month, I arbitrarily pulled together some of the last month's big releases as well as some interesting lesser-known releases about which I thought we'd have interesting things to say. This certainly isn't an exhaustive collection - however, I encourage you to visit the panelists' own blogs and websites because they do collectively cover a much vaster area of current pop music releases. I encourage comments, your thoughts on these selections or on our responses - feel free to call us out for bullshit or stake a new claim we've all left out on something. It sounds terribly hokey, but the final member of the panel, as it always is on Vertigo Shtick, is you, the reader, and we welcome your thoughts.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I have.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Voice UK: Season One Finale Recap

By James Phillips, Vertigo Shtick UK Correspondent

Last Saturday, Holiday Park singer Leanne Mitchell beat fellow singers Bo Bruce, Vince Kidd and Tyler James to win the first season of the UK installment of popular reality singing competition television show The Voice. Mitchell, who was mentored by Sir Tom Jones, won the show after being completely overpowered by teenage powerhouse Ruth Brown for weeks; however, when with Brown was voted out of the process in the semi-finals Leanne was finally given time to shine.

The Voice UK
Finalist Lady Catherine Anna Brudenell-Bruce (aka "Bo Bruce," God knows why)

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