'The Voice' Contestants' Singles Don't Always Get 'Idol' Level Glory, But There Are A Few Serious Gems
The thing about The Voice is that no matter no matter the entertainment value of playing high stakes musical chairs with charismatic famous musician coaches, the series just can't seem to produce a Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood-level star. A few of its winners have had some success, especially in the country arena with winners like Danielle Bradbery and Craig Wayne Boyd scoring a few hits on the Billboard charts. But to really make an impact as a recording artist, you can't just win a show; after that show, with record contract in hand, you have to quickly put out an album that gets fans' attention. And for an album to grab attention, it has to have hit singles... singles that are going to play on the radio way too many times, singles that are going to haunt people's dreams, and singles that both fans and non-fans will have stuck in their head for upwards of a year. In The Voice's case, only a few contestants' singles have hit the mark.
That's why, in probably The Voice's smartest move to date (other than bringing on millenniums' worth of life wisdom in the form of coach Pharrell), the show enlisted hit songwriters like Swedish hit master Max Martin to pen original songs for each of Season 7's top four artists to sing in the Finals. The original songs finally gave the Finalists the chance to show the kind of artist they'd be once unleashed upon the world as The Voice champion.
That's why I'm most excited for the Final 4 to roll around in the current season of The Voice: Each of the five contestants left have a very specific style and it's difficult to imagine how that artistry will adapt itself to the current music landscape when we only get to hear them sing covers. When the Final 4 of Season 7 debuted their original singles live on air, it was a huge moment both for the show, and for each of the four artists showing off what they might do with a record contract... because all of those songs were, uh, really good. Like, even better than I remember, and I remember being shocked by how catchy they were. (The videos, however, were pretty ridiculous, but I'm including them here because they're kind of hilarious, so let's take a cheesy trip down memory lane, shall we?)
Tessanne Chin — "Tumbling Down"
Technically, the first original song to be written specifically for a Voice contestant was Tessanne Chin's "winner's song" in Season 5. Ryan Tedder wrote singles for all three finalists — Chin, Jacquie Lee, and Will Champlin — but only Chin debuted her single in a live performance once she was declared the winner... unfortunately performances after you've just been told that all of your dreams are coming true aren't always the most vocally stable, but we got the idea.
No clue why The Voice skipped original songs for the Finalists altogether in Season 6, but it definitely came back even stronger in Season 7 by letting each Finalist sing their original song before the final vote.
Chris Jamison — "Velvet"
"Velvet" probably isn't the best Chris Jamison can do — and with an album on the way, hopefully there will be proof of that soon — but it showed that Jamison was ready to fully embrace the sexy, smooth operator image he had been working toward on the show. Unfortunately, it didn't make any lasting impact on the Billboard charts.
Damien — "Soldier"
"Soldier" is catchy as hell, so it makes sense that it debuted at number four on the R&B Digital charts. But it makes less sense that this song didn't linger around on the radio a little longer. I guess it's proof that the winning combination is a great original song plus, ya know, winning.
Craig Wayne Boyd — "My Baby's Got a Smile On Her Face"
It's a little difficult to trust any song title that is, in fact, a sentence. But if you were looking for Craig Wayne Boyd to declare himself the kind of country artist who can dutifully and successfully sing catchy country tracks, then his original song hit all the right angles during the Season 7 Finals. This song was originally written for Blake Shelton, and he gave it the hard pass over to his pal, CWB. And, sure, it sounds a little like a Blake Shelton reject, but if Blake's rejects land your debut single at #34 on the Billboard Hot 100 (oh, and score you The Voice win), then that's really not so bad.
Matt McAndrew — "Wasted Love"
With almost three million hits on YouTube, a stellar live debut, and the perfect addition of a live backup gospel choir, Matt McAndrew's debut original single was certainly the most successful of Season 7, and what everyone Season 8 should be hoping to emulate a week from now. "Wasted Love" showed that McAndrew was indeed the headliner his fans were hoping he could be; it wasn't enough to nab him the win, but it was enough to keep Matt McAndrew's name in the conversation while we eagerly await the followup album to his excellent debut single.
Image: Trae Patton/NBC