The Voice recap: The winner is, as if you didn’t know

21 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘The Voice’ Season Eight: And the Winner Is….

Season 8 of The Voice ended exactly the way people have been saying for weeks that it would: with 16-year-old Sawyer Fredericks being named the latest champion. The 15-year-old from Fultonville, NY, was not only the youngest contestant on the show this season, but he also brought in the first win for his coach Pharrell Williams.The 16-year-old folk-soul singer from rural upstate New York might be seen as an alternative choice for a TV talent show but impressed the judges from the start with his talent and humble attitude.

It wasn’t until the confetti began falling that Fredericks cracked a youthful smile as the shock of what he’d just accomplished appeared to set in. Christina Aguilera killed it with her throaty vocals – leaving Adam Levine to take the high notes with Pharrell and Blake Shelton adding some groove.

He gets $100,000 and a record deal and it’s all very exciting for him — let’s hope he bucks the trend of the show’s winners (with a couple exceptions) essentially dropping off the face of the earth. The sweet 16-year-old with the gleaming hair, sincere smile, innocent glow and endearing habit of singing with his hand on his heart had prevailed over three other worthy finalists. Joshua played guitar for the Black Crowes song She Talks To Angels with Brian Johnson, Corey Kent White, Kimberly Nichole and Deanna Johnson hand-picked to join him.

But the far more interesting story this season has been anger surrounding Meghan Linsey, the 29-year-old country-turned-soul singer who came in second place. Nashville’s powerful soul singer Meghan Linsey — a strong competitor throughout the season — was voted runner-up, while local Michigan hero Joshua Davis and Louisiana high school sweetheart Koryn Hawthorne took third and fourth place, respectively.

An ongoing issue among “Voice” fans: Some don’t believe that Linsey has any right to be in the competition because of previous success in the music industry. At a press conference following the announcement, Fredericks revealed his immediate plans. “I kind of want to get back to the farm, just to get a little break from all this,” he told Rolling Stone Country, “so I’m excited to get back home.” What we do know is that Williams will be working with Fredericks on his first post-Voice LP in some capacity. “He’s going to be recording music, for sure. John Fogerty, formerly of Creedence Clearwater Revival, did a medley of hits “Born on the Bayou,” “Bad Moon Rising” and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” with Sawyer, but it almost sounded like Sawyer’s mike was turned down lower than the 70-year-old’s, who was clearly the designated star.

After the parade of guests artists (Kelly Clarkson, Sheryl Crow, John Fogerty, Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5, Meghan Trainor, Luke Bryan), the returning members of the Top 20, and even the coaches themselves had performed, Carson Daly gathered the four finalists – Meghan Linsey, Sawyer Fredericks, Koryn Hawthorne and Joshua Davis – to reveal whom the voters had chosen to collect this season’s trophy. “One of your lives is about to change forever,” Daly declared, before breaking the first bit of news. Kelly Clarkson did double duty, first letting Koryn shine on “I’d Rather Go Blind” and then Meghan on “Invincible,” although it’s pretty difficult to outshine Kelly. Next, Meghan Trainor, who was Blake Shelton’s Battle advisor this season, sang her new single “Dear Future Husband,” accompanying herself on the ukulele.

Small in stature but poised beyond his years, he carved out an identity as a guitar-strumming crooner who could effortlessly strip a song down to its barest essence. Ray LaMontagne was his hero, and it appears the singer-songwriter is now a Fredericks fan, even gifting him with an original tune called “Please” for Monday’s finale. Mia also made an appearance on Sawyer’s bring-back song, Jonny Lang’s “Lie to Me,” along with Brooke Adee and Lowell Oakley, and stole the performance.

Immediately after the live broadcast, the track shot to Number Two on the iTunes chart. “I really want to do a song with Ray, just because I really want to meet him,” Fredericks confided. And speaking of stealing, that’s what Christina Aguilera did to her fellow coaches when she, Blake, Adam and Pharrell performed “The Thrill is Gone” as a tribute to B.B. They landed two consecutive Country Music Association Award nominations for Vocal Duo of the Year, and similar accolades from other mainstream award shows. Christina also proved an adept mimic and comedian when she lampooned Miley Cyrus, Sia, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Shakira and Cher in a bit about unseen “audition tapes” from wannabe Voice coaches.

The finalists and their coaches stepped into the confessional for one last time to speak about their journey. “Ultimately, my goal was really just to have a second chance,” Linsey said. “I just wanted to sing,” Hawthorne said through tears. As Fredericks sang the song that had helped put him there, “Please,” an original his hero Ray Montagne had given him to sing in the finals and to release as his first single – the song currently occupying that No. 2 slot on iTunes – his parents, looking fresh from the farm, enveloped him in a hug. For Davis, winning The Voice would be all about being able to provide for his family and support them through his music. “To have America just embrace my music and embrace me the way they have has been amazing,” Fredericks said. “To say thank you is not enough.” Fredericks then took the stage to sing with John Fogerty, followed by Davis performing with Sheryl Crow. With her career in a freefall, she turned to “The Voice.” “It’s kind of like going back to Square One,” she said in her first audition. “It’s humbling.

Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again. It’s all over now until Season 9 in the fall, although things are just ramping up for winner Sawyer, who closed the show with his new Ray LaMontagne-penned single, “Please.”

After months of escalating protests and grassroots organizing in response to the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, police reformers have issued many demands. The moderates in this debate typically qualify their rhetoric with “We all know we need police, but…” It’s a familiar refrain to those of us who’ve spent years in the streets and the barrios organizing around police violence, only to be confronted by officers who snarl, “But who’ll help you if you get robbed?” We can put a man on the moon, but we’re still lacking creativity down here on Earth.

Because that is what this sweet-smiling, Americana-inflected, pure-voiced, preternaturally talented young man — who had never been on a plane before entering the competition, who had satisfied his love of music by singing at farmers markets, who was never too comfortable when required to speak into a microphone — clearly loves to do. Incidentally, he was the only one not to spin his chair around when she first auditioned — she wound up on Team Pharrell, but Shelton stole her in a later round for his team. While law enforcers have existed in one form or another for centuries, the modern police have their roots in the relatively recent rise of modern property relations 200 years ago, and the “disorderly conduct” of the urban poor. Like every structure we’ve known all our lives, it seems that the policing paradigm is inescapable and everlasting, and the only thing keeping us from the precipice of a dystopic Wild West scenario.

Rather than be scared of our impending Road Warrior future, check out just a few of the practicable, real-world alternatives to the modern system known as policing: Unarmed but trained people, often formerly violent offenders themselves, patrolling their neighborhoods to curb violence right where it starts. Stop believing that police are heroes because they are the only ones willing to get in the way of knives or guns – so are the members of groups like Cure Violence, who were the subject of the 2012 documentary The Interrupters. There are also feminist models that specifically organize patrols of local women, who reduce everything from cat-calling and partner violence to gang murders in places like Brooklyn.

In other words, if people are upset that Linsey took up someone else’s deserving spot because she had connections — well, as any of the above winners can tell her, that generally not translate into success on its own. While police forces have benefited from military-grade weapons and equipment, some of the most violent neighborhoods have found success through peace rather than war. Violent offenses count for a fraction of the 11 to 14 million arrests every year, and yet there is no real conversation about what constitutes a crime and what permits society to put a person in chains and a cage. Decriminalization doesn’t work on its own: The cannabis trade that used to employ poor Blacks, Latinos, indigenous and poor whites in its distribution is now starting to be monopolized by already-rich landowners.

It’s not just “The Voice.” Nashville artist Sarah Darling, also a country singer with a label and many connections, got similar criticism when she auditioned for “Rising Star” on ABC last summer. To quote investigative journalist Christian Parenti’s remarks on criminal justice reform in his book Lockdown America, what we really need most of all is “less.” Also known as reparative or transformative justice, these models represent an alternative to courts and jails.

From hippie communes to the IRA and anti-Apartheid South African guerrillas to even some U.S. cities like Philadelphia’s experiment with community courts, spaces are created where accountability is understood as a community issue and the entire community, along with the so-called perpetrator and the victim of a given offense, try to restore and even transform everyone in the process. In Mexico, where one of the world’s most corrupt police forces only has credibility as a criminal syndicate, there have been armed groups of Policia Comunitaria and Autodefensas organized by local residents for self-defense from narcotraffickers, femicide and police. Obviously these could become police themselves and then be subject to the same abuses, but as a temporary solution they have been making a real impact. In New York, Rikers Island jails as many people with mental illnesses “as all 24 psychiatric hospitals in New York State combined,” which is reportedly 40% of the people jailed at Rikers.

We have created a tremendous amount of mental illness, and in the real debt and austerity dystopia we’re living in, we have refused to treat each other for our physical and mental wounds. Mental health has often been a trapdoor for other forms of institutionalized social control as bad as any prison, but shifting toward preventative, supportive and independent living care can help keep those most impacted from ending up in handcuffs or dead on the street.

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