Hyphen TV: The Voice Wraps Up, Hip Hop Greatness, Asian American Susan Boyle

July 5, 2011

"I don't have to stand near Carson Daly anymore," thought Dia.

The Voice wrapped up its first season last week, and though Dia Frampton didn't take home the top prize, it's clear we've been introduced to a singer who's been noticed (by iTunes users, at least). Also, how have I not noted previously how much she reminds me of Winnie Cooper? Right??

Each of the final four contestants performed with their respective mentors, and Dia and Blake sang Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" in matching suits and shades while playing matching guitars. Pretty adorable; see it here. We got a glimpse into the struggles of Dia's past when she described the last record she did, which she recorded in her mom's house with the dishwasher going in the background. You've come a long way, D!

Love the look, you guys.

Later during her solo, Dia sang the original song "Inventing Shadows" while at the piano. The Voice's comparisons to Idol over the season have been inevitable, but these original songs truly blew Idol's out of the water for me. Compare Dia's interesting performance to, say, Scotty McCreary's "I Love You This Big." No contest.

Winnie's so pretty! I mean, Dia.

The voters voted, and Dia performed with Blake's wife, fellow country superstar Miranda Lambert. "You're family to me now," Blake said with tears in his eyes after their duet. "I love you, I really do, and I'm so proud of you and so happy for you." Again separating itself from Idol, The Voice's mentor relationships between coaches and singers were the sole connection pulling me through the complicated elimination rounds that practically required a degree in statistical theory. Blake was an especially invested mentor, making it feel like he really did care for the somewhat emotionless Dia and adding some needed warmth to her stoic persona. Though it was revealed that Dia's single outsold fellow top two contestant Javier Colon's, Javier was the eventual winner of the show. We'll be keeping an eye on you, Dia! Did any of you guys download any of her songs this season?

"Guess I'm part of your family now, too." --Miranda

It was another great week for our boys on So You Think You Can Dance, both of whom were in the first group performance (see it here). This week we got to learn about the dancers' childhoods, and so Marko shared that he was "a crazy kid" who was "a bit of a spoiled brat ... like if I asked for something and my mom didn't give it to me, I would go crazy. Once my mom put me into dance class, it was a turning point ... I calmed down and learned discipline." A move we all benefited from, Mama Germar! Marko's first performance was a jazz and hip hop dance he did when he was 10 or 11. We see in the video that Marko was a shy performer then, head turned down and "kind of into myself," as Marko described. He ain't like that no more, though!

This week, Marko and Melanie pulled lyrical hip choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon. They told the story of a man who was stood up at the altar and found solace in his supportive female friend, whom he realizes was his true love all along. "Nappytabs" (I use the nickname with reluctance) has a tendency to go overboard with the literal symbols and emotions of their story, but I found Marko's tears opening the performance and the eventual jubilance of true love (and a mid-dance kiss) really moving and fun. Also interesting to see crying and kissing not at the end of the performance, as those acts usually serve as a culmination and not a part of the developing story. Lil' C called them a power couple and described their performance as "so crispy, so clean, so beefy." Nigel called Melanie and Marko "the couple to beat," while Mary commented on how "believable" and "powerful" their storytelling is and how "razor-sharp" their technique is proving to be. Then the judging broke down in a flurry of kissing to reflect the dance's subject matter, and it was incredibly embarrassing and uncomfortable and Cat spoke for us all when she said "It's like walking in on your parents." Truth.

There was more than just smooching going on, judges.

Tadd was a "huge nerd" as a kid with "a typical Asian bowl cut" (haayyy). His mom dressed him and his dad taught young Tadd martial arts to protect him from bullies (!). His earliest performance was a Filipino cultural dance that looked just adorable. Tadd and Jordan also pulled a Tabitha and Napoleon routine, performing a hip hop take on a couple's morning after a wild, unremembered night. Again I worried about some cheesy storytelling, and while this was obviously much fluffier material than the previous dance covered, there were fun moments like Tadd smoothly pulling on a pair of pants while on the floor. Did I mention that he started the dance in just boxers? Lil' C called it "greatness," Nigel told them they're going nowhere, and Mary admonished viewers, "Do not put on your pants like that unless you have a b-boy certificate." Guest judge Kristin Chenoweth said, "That was a dessert and I liked every bite." Agreed! No surprise -- on the results show we found out that both couples are safe. See you guys next week!

                             Shirt, Tadd? Boooo

So you may get the sense that I watch every reality show that's out there. I can't blame you for thinking that. In fact, there are lots of less-than-stellar shows I watch that I don't even mention here (Platinum Hit and The Glee Project are a couple recent additions). But I do have a standard, believe it or not, and that means that some shows are too cheesy and annoying even for me: Dancing/Skating with the Stars, for example. America's Got Talent also falls into that category, but they were advertising so heavily for it during The Voice's finale, and I couldn't help but notice that the "Susan Boyle"-esque (eye roll) contestant they're pimping this season is an Asian woman, so with reluctance I tuned in. The contestant's name is Cindy Chang, she's 42 years old, a former technical writer and current housewife (that last bit stated with some embarrassment/defensiveness), and she described how she'd always wanted to sing, but her parents wouldn't allow it. She seemed shy and nervous, snorting a bit whenever she giggled during her pre-performance interviews.

                             Primed for a makeover

Then Cindy stepped on stage and busted out a lovely version of "O Mio Babbino Caro," an aria I know as "the pasta song" (trust me, you know it) and breaking down in tears as soon as she finished. Check it out here. The audience and Piers Morgan were all on their feet as her hands shook, and it was no surprise that she made it through to the next round. Congrats, Cindy!

I guess I should also mention "Rak and Tak" Kahn, the South Asian doctor couple who have been married for 26 years and were absolutely dreadful in their duet audition. Ugh. See, this sort of shame is the reason I can't watch this show. Judge for yourself here.

                                       I can't.


Dianne Choie


Dianne Choie's TV is in Brooklyn, NY. She has a cat, several reusable shopping bags, and other mildly annoying stereotypes of youngish people who live in Brooklyn.