Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Jewish Star: The Fourth Judge's Impressions - Part 2

We clearly have many more contestants this year and this has impacted the show a lot. The biggest challenge now is not only sing a song well but to find a way to stand out from the others. This requires a good voice, obviously, but it's as important to choose the right song. And even when you choose the right song you should make it special and different. In light of this contestants like Baruch Naftel, Elie Norovitz and even Gershon Shapiro did a pretty good job but this year I don't think it will be enough - there's too many people. And it's all about standing out. Avrami Cohen is a great example of a smart audition. I'm happy we are going this way as this will make the competition more.. err.. competitive.

But the best so far is Mendel the Shoichet - I can't forget that one. Here are the latest:

Avrami Cohen - Very original audition, with a jazzed up version of YG's Beshoo. He is Kol Zimra-ish and I think will go through. *

Benny Gammerman - Another innovative audition that stood up from the rest. Like Mendy Sheichet, Benny is back and stronger and both seem ahead of Gershon from last year's contestants. The song is pretty much from the Israeli JM camp and it's fresh and groovy, not to mention the interesting lyrics. I think eventually JM will have more and more of these kind of lyrics (Shuli Rand is one of the pioneers) and I hope this audition gets the green light.*

Elie Norovitz - I think it wasn't a good song choice for him - the first part was way too low and it eclipsed the rest of the tune, which did have good moments and good notes.

Motti Hershkovitz - good voice, this audition was quite good. I like him but, again, I don't know if he managed to stand out enough. Reminds me of Yeedle a bit.

Daniel Joshua Gerlich - this guy will polarize opinions around him. This kind of auditions will raise eyebrows for virtually all US listeners but will surely have a following in Israel. The dragged singing is perhaps a little exaggerated but overall this song has character. Does he look a bit crazy? Yes. But the crazy singers can be the best. Think Lipa, Adi Ran - the crazier the less they care about the standards and the more original they are. I don't think he will pass because he doesn't fits in the Avraham Fried/Gerstner music world but I'm very happy to see him compete.

Tzvi Russel - it's a good example of the danger of being too much into your own song. Took a big risk by singing his own song and considering that this song is bad, he had no chance from the very start.

Ilan Eckhart - sings a beautiful song from Six13, a band I follow closely. Good voice, lots of potential, but is this the kind of guy Fried/Gerstner will appreciate and pass? Don't think so.

Edan Hanouka - slightly better than Flusberg. Couldn't watch till the end.

Motty Reizes - what caught my attention was the composition. The song is far from perfect but it has some interesting shticks and I think Motty has potential to be a composer.

Mordechai Levovitz - seems to be a pro singer - can these compete?

Marcos Askenazi - he is on ajewishstar's channel on youtube but is not on the site. Is he in or not? Confusing. One of the better auditions - great interpretation, vocals and musicality. If he is competing, I would place him as a favorite. *

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Jewish Star: The Fourth Judge's Impressions

Last year I was afraid none of the judges would dare to give honest opinions - bad or good - about the contestants so I wrote a long post with blunt assessments of each and every A Jewish Star contestant. I turned out to be wrong as Avraham Fried took the post of the Simon in the show and was even more confrontational then me - kudos to him and I hope he keeps the same mindset this year. Anyways, in case you liked what I had to say lasy year, here are my comments about this year's contestants. I marked my favorites with a *.

Just a note - I just bought Binyamin Moshe's song in a Jewish Star's site and it simply rocks - the song, the vocals, the choir and the arrangement. Just for that A Jewish Star was a success, as it really produced a great star.

Another note - I will not comment on the Jr contestants. I'm against the Jr competition because it can expose the kids to embarrassing situations that will be forever public on the web. Adults are free to do whatever they want, and if some decide to make a fool of themselves online, hey, that's their life. But kids? This is a result of the Children Boys Choir craze that is so poignant in Jewish Music, unfortunately.

Ratzon Gholian - he does reach very high but I always say: it's not about reaching high, it's about how you reach the notes. And his high notes are too thin, shaky and strident. Shwekeyism, and that's a very annoying ism.

David Ackney - I love this video. The Simple setting allows David's tune and voice to stand from the crowd. The interplay of "Na" is smart (although already explored by Yossi Green in his composition to Kol Achai) and it fits well in this Breslov atmosphere - it was just missing the Na Na Nachman! *

Natie Grossnass - the Brits are so verbose! What I like about this one is that this is exactly what an audition should be - just sing a little of what you like and let the judges decide if you are good. This year pretty much everyone decided to follow the steps of last year's winner and come up with an original song in the audition. They should do like Natie, who did it simple but perhaps just enough to go through. Go cousin! *

Baruch Naftel - Nice "open door" into idea, and professional recording. He was on tune throughout the song, and clearly had a good time making this video. Also some funny moments thanks to the scarf throw and the "dorm mess" snap at 4:40. He needs voice coaching - his singing is still too raw but I do see potential in him, with the condition that he stops trying to copy Shwekey's shticks!

Aron Holder - right from the start you hear that he has a very distinctive low voice. I think a voice like his will do good to the finals. *

Yaakov Flusberg - DOA

Hillel Kapnik - he recorded this video in the same place as Boruch Naftel, which leads me to speculate that he was the guy in shorts in Naftel's vid, but going to the point - great composition! It has great potential for harmonies and with a professional producer this song could actually fly. His voice didn't stand out much but he didn't compromise the song and came out good. Weird wink at the end ... whatever. *

Menachem Weinstein - Menachemyahu? Matisyahu is clearly his inspiration and rap is his genre - nothing wrong with that. I like the song a lot, and he really did well with nice vocals, harmonies and arrangement. He will go through, although I'm curious to see if A. Fried will nod to a rapper in this show!

Mendel Markel - back from season1, Mendel gives another shot for his Jewish Star bid. Hands down, the best audition this year; both the vocals and tune were exceptional. And to achieve that with a simple setting - couch, guitar and no auto-tune - wow! *

Yehuda Tenenbaum - No singing technique, weird diction and very many off tune moments. Will not pass.

Ezra Lejbik - very over-the-top, kvetchy and terribly off tempo. I do like his voice, but he needs a lot of framing.

Shmuel Plotke - I liked the originality of the video - it was a cool setting. That's what's good about it.

Zalman Levy - this was interesting. I see a good potential in him, specially as a lyricist. Good English lyrics are a rarity in JM and from the start he is better than most lyricist out there. The question is if this will be enough to captivate the judges.

Aron Behamou - ok the video wasn't mixed properly but I like the song - it's different, original and complex. His vocals are a bit sloppy but I think it's part of the charm of this song. I really wish he will pass. But it will be a long flight to the show! * (the dark horse)

David Hershkovitz - clearly very into the song, but still an amateur. Maybe next year he will be more ripe.

Shmuel Morgenstern - related to Shalom Morgenstern? Wow, it has been years since I heard from him - I was actually one of the few who bought this under-the-radar Yossi Green CD. It would interesting to have a Chassidich guy in the show but I don't think he stood out.

Gershon Shapiro - this video was very well done, specially the video mixing. Gershon put a lot of effort in this video, however I still don't see his vocals standing out. But the song was original, the video was top-quality, so he might very well go ahead this time.

Abraham Cooper - very heimish atmosphere with the fireplace and banjo, but the composition is below par... sorry.

Nachas Baldinger - he seems to be a pro singer, so I don't know how this falls with A Jewish Star's rules. But his vocals are good and even if he doesn't go through this is smart advertisement. Is that Newmark in the keyboard?

Dan Dabbah - the video was so bad that it almost neutralizes what's good about him. Good voice but no stage presence; I don't think that is the profile for a show like this but, hey, his vocals are good.

Shimon Atlas - Great Avrumie Flam song and good vocals. But it's weird to submit a wedding video.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Jewish Star Season 2 is here!

Stay tuned for my post on the best and worst auditions next week. This will be a very cool season, that much I can say!

Benny Friedman’s Kulanu Nelech Album Review

Benny Friedman’s latest album, Kulanu, is out on Spotify, and as a paying subscriber I enjoyed listening to this album quite a bit, to the e...