• Which show does it better, "American Idol" or "The Voice?"

    “The Voice” and “American Idol” are two of the biggest singing competitions in America. Both series are based on the concept of finding the next big recording artist, but which show does it best?

    This is a breakdown of the five elements that make a successful vocal reality show, as a showdown between “The Voice” and “American Idol.”

    Best show format: “The Voice”

    In “The Voice,” the judges focus soley on, well, the voice. Judges decide to either turn around in their chairs, signaling that they are interested in having the vocalist on their team, or remain with their backs turned. Once all of the singers are claimed, artists compete on teams to win the coveted title of “The Voice.” The show’s format allows the judges to give honest and helpful feedback while creating a bond with each competitor.

    After 12 seasons, America has grown tired of the “American Idol” layout as well as the panel of judges, which is constantly in flux. “American Idol” employs a panel of always changing celebrity judges who critique the contestants’ performances on a weekly basis, down to the amount of attitude and spunk that each contestant exudes. The judges offer advice to help the singer have a stronger performance next week, but in the past seasons many judges have said they enjoyed it and rarely offered helpful tips.  

    Best judges: “The Voice”

    Both shows have a slew of famous faces filling their judging panel. But “The Voice” has boybander Adam Levine of Maroon 5, country crooner Blake Shelton, sultry powerhouse Christina Aguilera and over-the-top Cee Lo Green. Last season, Usher and Shakira filled the chairs for Cee Lo and Christina. Regardless of the season, “The Voice” continues to have popular judges who know what it takes to make it in today’s music industry. 

    “American Idol” has pop-sensation Jennifer Lopez, country guitarist and singer Keith Urban and is welcoming multitalented musician Harry Connick, Jr. to the panel. The last few years have proved rocky for the singing show. With a constant flux of judges, including Mariah Carey, Ellen DeGeneres and Nicki Minaj, “American Idol” has yet to find a panel of judges that has the chemistry and knowledge that the original panel (Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson ) possessed.

    Best host: “American Idol”

    “The Voice” is hosted by Carson Daly. When Carson Daly comes to mind, so does MTV’s “Total Request Live” (TRL) and that is about it...

    No one says “and this is ‘American Idol’” quite like reigning host Ryan Seacrest. You would think after 12 devoted seasons Seacrest would have said goodbye to the tickets to Hollywood and the mobs of competitors, but he hasn’t. Even with a never ending schedule, Seacrest still dutifully commits to the show.

    Best previous winners: “American Idol”

    After four successful seasons, “The Voice” has still yet to produce a winner who has made a huge impact on the music world. Despite several hits by contestants including “Come Along” by Vicci Martinez and “Champagne” by Cassadee Pope, “The Voice” still hasn’t placed a successful artist in the music world. “The Voice”’s best bet for high record sales lie with season 3 winner Cassadee Pope. 

    Should we even begin to count the famous faces that skyrocketed to success with “American Idol”? Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks and Phillip Phillips are just a few. Not to mention, even singers who don’t win often go on to have a successful career. Just look at season three finalist Jennifer Hudson who won an Academy Award for her work in “Dreamgirls.” “American Idol” contestants and winners almost always go on to dominate the radio waves. 

    Overall winner: “The Voice” 

    “American Idol” really needs to up the ante this year if they want to dominate the ratings and compete with “The Voice”, which won an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Competition, an accomplishment that “American Idol” has yet to achieve after 13 years.

  • ACL Weekend Two: Teenagers at Kendrick Lamar and running to Moody Theatre


    The first time I went to ACL in 2004, the festival was way smaller. This year was my fifth time attending, and being a part of the first two-weekend format felt very special.

    As soon as I walked through the gates, I was lured all the way across the field by Savages’ bewitching performance. Their performance was as dark and thunderous as the rain clouds looming overhead, making me nervous for how the rest of the day would go. I couldn’t help but wonder why Savages was playing directly adjacent to Austin Kiddie Limits and chuckled to myself as I imagined their reactions.

    I left Pinback’s set at the Bud Light Stage early to get a good spot for Local Natives. The five of them came out on stage dressed in clothes that looked like they were all from Urban Outfitters. The band informed the crowd that the night before that they invited their touring bassist, Nik Ewing, to join the band and that this was their last United States date on tour. After watching my favorite song of theirs, “Colombia,” I headed off for some much needed relaxation and whiskey.

    After seeing one Depeche Mode song that was super boring, I went to Muse. Even though I have seen them twice before, I’ll never miss a Muse show. Front man Matthew Bellamy channeled Jimi Hendrix in a surprisingly ballsy, but only semi-cool, rendition of the National Anthem. 


    Day two had a lot of potential but sacrifices had to be made. Seeing Kendrick Lamar up close was my only objective for the day.

    I got to the festival later than I had expected because of a massive hangover. I tried to power walk past slower attendees, but despite my efforts, only managed to catch half of Portugal. The Man.

    Determined to see Kendrick Lamar, I forced my way to the front of the crowd at the Honda Stage, only to find it occupied exclusively by a pack of high school kids asking me for alcohol. I waited in that sweaty, preteen crowd for an hour, praying to the rap gods to send me the prophet Kendrick Lamar. Lamar opted to use a medley approach instead of performing full songs. He played most of last year’s Good Kid, m.A.A.d city, to the delight of myself and the teenyboppers alike.

    I pushed my way out of the children’s playground a wiser man, though I was covered in sweat and germs. I saw The Cure play a few songs before I decided that I didn’t want to look at a fat, old man with goth makeup anymore (sorry Robert Smith). Kings of Leon was killing it at their stage and I managed to get surprisingly close to see the last 30 minutes of their set. They closed with “Use Somebody,” as the clouds broke open and poured rain on the huge crowd. It’s the moments like that which make ACL worth all of the struggles.


    I woke up at 10:30 a.m. on what should have been day three of ACL and stared at one of the most devastating text messages I’ve ever received: “Omggg they cancelled ACL.” 

    ACL had never been cancelled before, it just didn’t seem possible.

    I laid in bed in nonviolent protest until 3:00 p.m., when my roommates were determined to get me out of my funk with the one thing that always cheers me up: Chinese food. Things started looking up. Then I remembered the ACL Official After Shows and that, most importantly, Waka Flocka Flame would be playing with Borgore and Steve Aoki. 

    I entered Austin Music Hall a little late and saw Flocka’s huge frame in the crowd, pushing his way around just as his DJ started playing “No Hands.” I yelled and offered a prayer to the Based God for giving me this opportunity. 

    After Waka Flocka Flame’s performance, another revelation hit me: Atoms For Peace was playing right down the street.

    I ran the four blocks to the Moody Theatre through a light mist and could hardly breathe, more from excitement rather than exhaustion, and I threw my money at the ticket clerk. I ran up the stairs and burst into the venue to witness Thom Yorke, Flea and three other, less-notable musicians perform their strangs, rhythmic alternative rock. The performance was incredbile. 

    In spite of the weather taking my dreams of day three away, I had a great day. I had one of those nights where you think the city is built just for you, and that the entire world revolves around your happiness.

  • Playlist of the week: week 5

    In this weekly feature, we make a playlist of some of the best and most important new songs from the week before. Each track is supplemented with a short commentary, giving a sense of why you should check them out.

    All good things must come to an end – in this case because of an unplanned thunderstorm. With ACL Festival’s two weekends now behind us, it’ll be another year until the festival overtakes our city again. This week’s playlist features some favorites from this year’s lineup.

    Vampire Weekend – “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”

    The Brooklyn band was right at home in Austin this weekend, pleasing the crowd with hits from their entire catalogue. “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” takes us back to their debut, a time when the group could only dream of the headliner status they are currently living.

    Purity Ring – “Fineshrine”

    This Canadian duo brought plenty of wub wub to the south with their ethereal show. “Fineshrine” evokes the hazy atmosphere of their live setting, save for a bunch of cocoon lights hanging around the stage.

    Arctic Monkeys – “Do I Wanna Know?”

    The blues rockers had a chance to play their new material in Austin, and fans couldn’t have been happier. “Do I Wanna Know?” is a standout favorite from their newest album, with a riff so addictive it’s still resonating in festival-goers ears.

    HAIM – “Don’t Save Me”

    HAIM just released their debut album two weeks ago, but that didn’t hinder the group’s ability to draw a crowd. Performing on one of the main stages at the festival, the three sisters put on a big show that indicates a promising career. “Don’t Save Me” has all the trappings of hooky pop-rock-R&B that fits both constant radio play and live shows.

    Blood Diamonds – “Phone Sex (feat. Grimes)"

    Grimes ended her enormously fun set with “Phone Sex,” the collaborative track between her and producer Blood Diamonds. Super-fans of Grimes flooded the crowd with necklaces of her and personalized fan art, and every one of them left the show satisfied with smiles on their faces and a little less hearing.

    The National – “Terrible Love”

    Second weekenders didn’t have the chance to see The National this year, but those lucky enough to catch them at Stubb's got a huge surprise. Midway through the set, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon took the stage and played a few songs with them, including “Terrible Love.” How awesome is that?

    Kendrick Lamar – “m.A.A.d city”

    Put on a secondary stage without another big name playing elsewhere to divide the crowd, festival-goers surrounded Lamar in all directions. The Compton rapper energized the crowd, which was most evident when he played the title track “m.A.A.d city.” 


  • No ACL today

    While C3 Presents controls a large portion of the Austin music scene, they do not, surprisingly, control the weather. 

    This morning, C3 released a statement cancelling Sunday's festivities because of flash flood warnings. What will happen to all of the flower crowns? Where will all of that beer go? 

     Shelby Meade, communications director for C3 and the promoter of ACL, said in a press release,“We regret having to cancel the show today, but safety always comes first.”

    One-third of ticket prices will be refunded, but who knows if those of you who bought a wristband off of Craigslist will ever see that cash.

    There was considerable rain and thunder overnight that kept me from sleeping, so I guess it is probably pretty muddy down at Zilker Park. Mud doesn't go with a maxi skirt and bikini top. 

    Weekend one goers are thanking the ACL gods for their luck. ACL shuttle drivers are doing a rain dance, so thankful they don't have to look at cut off shorts today. And Thom Yorke is probably really glad no one is peeing in a bottle waiting to see Atoms for Peace. 






  • A few Twitter rules you might have missed

    If you have not yet signed up for Twitter (which, come on, get with it) or you are new to the social media platform, there are a few unspoken laws that you should know before delving into the confusing, entertaining and sometimes disturbing Twitterverse.

    1. Set a profile picture. You don’t want to put your friends in the awkward position of having to explain to you that they are too embarrassed to let your default Egg profile picture tarnish their “Following” list. Change it.

    2. Follow at least 200 people. This is a must, because, if you aren’t, your Twitter feed will be inundated by the 3 million updates that Huffington post tweets out every hour. If you refuse to follow 200 people because your Twitter is “too exclusive”, than see Tip #6 about creating lists.

    3. Although you may feel obligated to return the favor to every new follower, don’t. Only follow them back if you know them or care to see their content. If you have never heard of them before or their Twitter handle reads like a bad porn star pseudonym, they are probably follower fishing. 

    4. Although favoriting a Twitter message is a nice way to show appreciation towards a fellow Twitter user, retweeting is what the people want. Just remember, favoriting is to retweeting what side-hugs are to getting hot and heavy in the back of your 1993 Hyundai. 

    5. Connecting your Instagram to your Twitter account allows you to tweet your pictures directly from your Instagram app, which is convenient. This said, you are required to open a separate webpage to view the photo, and unless you are a) the president, b) the Pope, or c) Ryan Gosling, I will not expend the effort. #sorrynotsorry

    6. Twitter lists are great. Although they were intended to allow users to categorize who they follow by similar Twitter messages or interests, they are actually used to categorize who you follow into people you knew from high school, news outlets, that guy you met one time at a networking event, pity follows, and the 10 people you actually care about. 

    7. If you learn only one thing from me, let it be that Twitter is ultimately nothing more than a huge room full of opinionated people speaking in 140 character bursts without caring if there is anyone paying attention on the other side, so you might as well make your Twitter whatever you want it to be. This could be political rants, live tweeting sports, or your favorite L0Lz Catz. You do you.