Sunday, December 25, 2011

Semifinal Winners! Now for the Finals!

Merry Christmas! Here are your gifts - The first semifinal goes to . . . Celine Dion. Really, folks, did you think that Third Day's OHN was going to make it to the finals? It was a good run (especially since I wouldn't have voted it to come out of the first round).
The second semifinal goes to . . . Josh Groban. To me this is an upset, but I think that since Celine made it to the final, we needed some contrast. I personally love Mariah's version but I have decided not to overrule the masses (since it is Christmas). So the final is set: Celine Dion vs. Josh Groban. You can listen to them one more time:

We are going to continue this final for three days! So if you want to share with friends and comment, then go ahead. I will announce the winners this coming Wednesday morning! Good luck.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Final Four Doubleheader!

Now is the time to find our Champion. The pretenders have been eliminated (mostly), and now we come to the Final Four in the competition. In one semi-final we have Celine Dion vs. Third Day, the cinderella who somehow stopped the clock on 11:59 pm and made it to the Final Four.

The other semi-final has Mariah vs. Groban. Two #1 seeds, two divas, two legends!

Let the competions begin! Tell me who you like and why. If you don't tell me why you are voting for someone, I will not count your vote! (Of course, I may not count it anyway.)

Winners from the Second Quarterfinal

Mariah and Groban have moved on to the Final Four - creating a semi-final for the ages. Nat couldn't overcome the B3 and the vocal range of Mariah, and Studio 60, although being my favorite instrumental of the tournament, could not overcome the Groban machine.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Quarterfinal DoubleHeader #2

Here is the other quarterfinal doubleheader: The first match finds us with Mariah Carey vs. Nat King Cole. Mariah is the #1 seed, strong, multi-octave, B3 organ: you know that this is stout. Then we have Nat, the legend, the iconic voice, unforgettable (pun intended). Here it is for one more listen:

The other match find us with Josh Groban vs. Studio 60. I want to do this one with YouTube clips, because the one from last round with Groban helped him steamroll past TSO, and the Studio 60 YouTube puts the version from New Orleans in context, with the pictures from Hurricane Katrina. Groban version: Studio 60: Love the comments under the clip, agree with the one that says "The best four minutes of episodic television...ever."
So, tell me who goes to the final four!

Winners From the First Quarterfinal

Just when I said that the OHNO has proven to be an educational endeavor, the voting of the masses comes in all wrong! I am shocked that the Third Day cover received any votes at all, and not only that, but has the majority in the masses over Faith Hill. This has caused me to do something that I am not used to doing, namely, doubting my own judgment. So I listened again. Still don't like the Third Day cover, so then I turned to the Faith Hill cover, and thought, what is keeping them from voting for her? I realized that although the Faith Hill cover is beautiful, there is nothing there that makes one demand that she move on, and that vacuum, I guess, is what the Third Day cover is taking advantage of. So should one vote on a great version that, in the end, has nothing to write home about, or a car wreck version that everyone has to gather around and see? I am letting Third Day move on; although this is certainly more of Faith losing it rather than Third Day winning it.
The other match, we find Celine and Bing. (Turning to Bing) Bing, it has been a great ride, and there is something about your voice that proclaims Christmas more than any other in the OHNO. Your White Christmas is the best selling Christmas song of all time, and you are such an icon that when, late in life, you decided it was a good idea to sing "Little Drummer Boy" as a duet with David Bowie, we gave you a pass, saying, "If Bing wants to sing with David Bowie a train-wreck of a song on national TV, then he should because he is Bing." However, this is the OHNO, and the song is OHN, and you ran into Celine. Sorry, friend. May you forever find your friend Bob Hope and take the "road to" continued generations listening and enjoying your smooth bass voice. Celine moves on.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quarterfinal Doubleheader #1

So now we move on to the quarterfinals, where we have these two matches in a doubleheader today. First we have Celine Dion vs. Bing Crosby - two heavyweights in the OHNO (well maybe one heavyweight, Celine is a little skinny) running into each other in the final 8. Celine has one of the most celebrated OHN in music history, but now faces the Ol'Crooner himself, who in White Christmas and Holiday Inn etched himself in Christmas lore forever. Have another listen below:

Next we have Faith Hill vs. the upstart Third Day, who is one of two Cinderella #6 seeds in the final 8. Again, we have to ask the question, can an atypical cover of OHN win the OHNO? Me thinks that Cinderella might want to look at the clock, because midnight is coming awfully fast. For grins, have another listen below:

So tell me the winners for both these matches, and why you think they need to go to the Final Four.

Round 2 Winner - Pavoratti vs. Studio 60

It is amazing how much people learn about music from one year to the next. The OHNO has proven to be an educational opportunity as well as a music competition. Studio 60 moves on!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

O Holy Night Off! Pavoratti vs. Studio 60

Last Round 2 match! Pavoratti, of course, is Pavoratti, and being a high tenor, brings us the OHN in the very high key of E flat, with his high note being a B flat. If you like him, you will like this, if not, then you probably won't.
The Studio 60 version has a backstory that you can read in last year's blog notes on the first round. I moved it on to this round because of the lack of good taste in the masses last year. Hopefully, people have learned more about good music and will vote accordingly, otherwise we will have to relearn this lesson again. So tell me who you like better (like it matters).

Round 2 Winner - Groban vs. TSO

Man, I thought this would have been closer, but it wasn't. Groban by a mile, and moves on into the next round. This gives TSO the distinction of losing twice in the OHNO.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

O Holy Night Off! Round 2 Josh Groban vs. TSO

This I will have to explain. In the bracket you will notice that TSO got beat by Manheim in a close match. However, my friend Mike shared with me a link from another TSO OHN that clearly would have won the bracket, so I am giving them an exemption into the next round. The link to the TSO version with Phantom of the Opera star Michael Crawford singing is . If you want to hear a high tenor sing the song, this is your dude (although he sings it so high, dude may not be the right word there). He sings it in D and the high note is A, the highest in the competition so far.
He goes up against Josh Groban. Here is a nice youtube version with clips from The Nativity movie: . He sings it in B with the high note a nice F#. The version (a #1 seed) has the arpeggio piano, the verses, the dynamic vocal range, the Noel, but so does Crawford. So do you like your OHN sung by a baritione or tenor? Let me know.

Round 2 Winner - Nat King Cole vs. Harry Connick, Jr.

This turned out to be no contest at all. Nat moves on to the next round!

Monday, December 19, 2011

O Holy Night Off! Round 2 - Nat King Cole vs. Harry Connick

First, both of these performers sing the song in A flat, and both have iconic sounds. Nat is probably one of the most famous covers of OHN in the competition, and the last round Harry won on a controversial tie breaker (go to last year's post to hear that story). To me, I know who should move on, but others may have a different opinion. So let me hear it.

Round 2 Winner - Mariah Carey vs. Mahalia Jackson

Round 2 Winner - Mariah wins! Moves on to the elite 8.

Friday, December 16, 2011

O Holy Night Off! Round 2 Mariah Carey vs. Mahalia Jackson

O Holy Night Off! Round 2 - Mariah Carey vs. Mahalia Jackson

Here is another round 2 classic! First Mahalia Jackson has a sound so unique, and just her being her makes this song a true classic. For those who are following along with the home game "Name that Key," this would be in F. If you remember from the competition last year, she faced Patti LaBelle, which turned out to be a virtual bye for Mahalia. Mariah Carey, a #1 seed, may be the strongest entry into the tournament, and she would win the whole thing if this were a vocal gymnastics competition, since she sings her song in two different octave ranges - she covers nearly 3 octaves in the song (keyed in E). But what makes this cover so strong is the arrangement, especially the Hammond B3 Organ in the song, it gives it a true soul sound. I think she is going to be hard to beat.

Round 2 Winner - Martina McBride vs. Third Day

Round 2 Winner - Because the Masses wanted it - Third Day moves on.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

O Holy Night Off! Round 2 Martina McBride vs. Third Day

O Holy Night Off! Round 2 CC2 Martina McBride vs. CC6 Third Day

Last round I told you why I liked the Martina McBride version. (FYI, she, like Hill sings it in the key of G.) Let me tell you what I don't like. Upon closer hearing, the piano sounds a little too "mean" for an OHN cover, and what I mean by that, is that the piano has a little bit more edge to it on the arpeggios than I probably would like. And, like last time, she sings the first verse twice. Why, O why, Martina, couldn't you sing one of the other verses? You might make it into the Elite 8, but if you meet Faith, you will be toast. The Third Day version is the atypical cover of the song. You either like it or hate it. Personally, I don't know that an atypical cover should make it into the Elite 8, but you can tell me otherwise. (Doesn't factor in as much in an an atypical cover, but it is in the key of C, making thier high note a G, the highest so far in Round 2.)

Round 2 Winner - Faith Hill vs. George Beverly Shea

This one was pretty close, but we are going to have to give the nod to Faith Hill. It could be that I never could get a sound system hooked up to my computer that would register GBS low Hz voice.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

O Holy Night Off! Round 2 - Faith Hill vs. George Beverly Shea

O Holy Night Off! Round 2 CC1 Faith Hill vs. CC4 George Beverly Shea

What makes this such a beautiful version, I think, is the awesome vibrato that she has throughout the song. She is in total control of her voice and she uses it like an instrumentalist. One of the reasons why she has this total control is because the song is keyed in G and it uses her strong alto range to give it this control. This makes her high note a very reachable D. If you are to give points based on knowing your voice, she would get a bunch, but if you are in the "how high can you go with the high note" game, then this version might not do it for you. However, if you are in the "how low can you go with the low note" game, then GBS is your man. His version is keyed in F making his low note a low F. Folks, melodies are usually not sung that low. Just impressive. But I don't think that vocal gymnastics should decide the OHNO, but maybe you think so. Let me know.

Round 2 Winner - Kelly Clarkson vs. Bing Crosby

Oh no, Kelly, why did you have to run into such the great icon that is Bing Crosby. Bing moves on to the next round!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

O Holy Night Off - Round 2 - Kelly Clarkson vs. Bing Crosby

O Holy Night Off - Round 2 P7 Kelly Clarkson vs. P3 Bing Crosby

This round 2 match pits the winner of the acapella opening round winner, Kelly Clarkson, verses the popular Bing Crosby. First Clarkson, who like Hill and Glee, lower the key of the song, to Ab, making the high note a very reachable Eb. I didn't like this version the first round, thinking that 'nSync should have moved on. I don't like the background vocals in this version, although I think Clarkson's lead is very good. Finally, she lists her version of OHN as "Oh Holy Night." It is not OH but O. Oh is a moan, O is a word of beauty. Huge pet peeve of mine. Now Bing, who sings the song also in Ab, good for his Bass voice. However, he never goes for the high note, only going up to the C in the chorus. But his voice is a classic Christmas sound and he spells the song right.

Round 2 Winner - Celine Dion vs. Glee Cast

Sometimes there is a good reason why someone is a #1 seed. Celine is just too good for the newcomers to overcome. Celine moves on to the elite 8.

Monday, December 12, 2011

O Holy Night Off - Round 2 Celine Dion vs. Glee Cast - Lea Michelle

O Holy Night Off - Round 2 Match P1 Celine Dion vs. P5 Glee Cast - Lea Michelle

Now that we are in round 2, we have to be a lot more critical of each cover and dig down deep to find which one is worthy of being in the elite 8, which is in itself an honor. First to Celine - There is a reason why she is a 1 seed. She sings the song with beauty and power. She has it keyed to her voice, which is the key of G, which uses her alto range and makes the high note a manageable D. (Just for reference, the oldest and most classical versions of OHN are in Db.) Now for the Glee version. Lea Michelle is much more of a power singer, using more straight tone, but she does something similar to Celine: she keys the song lower to have more of a power range. One difference though is that she keys it in A, which, if you have studied any music stuff, you would know is a brighter key than G. Her high note is a very reachable E. One huge downer, when I watched the Glee Christmas episode, they did not perform OHN. I was very curious about how they were going to work in the song, and come to find out, they didn't. May cost them a spot in the elite 8.

The "O Holy Night Off!" Continues!

For those who have begged and pleaded for the continuation and conclusion of the "O Holy Night Off!" from last year, your time has come. Here is how the bracket looks after the first round completed last year.

Again, let me go over the rules. We ask that there be no wagering during this competition. We will post the songs on this blog for you to listen, and you may comment in the comment section on which one should move along. Of course, being over the comeptition, I can overrule any decision made by the masses if they have no clue what they are talking about. However, last year, comments did change the judge's mind. So good luck to all the contestants, and may the best "O Holy Night" win.