Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Happy 50th Birthday, Seal!

Okay, I'll admit it. For the past week, Australia's Nine Network has been showcasing promos for the upcoming second season of the Oz version of The Voice incessantly, and every time I get a glimpse of the judging/coaching panel -- which includes Ricky Martin, Seal, Good Charlotte's Joel Madden and Delta Goodrem, the lone Aussie pop star -- I think to myself, "They couldn't do better than that?"

Joel Madden (center) would have been the coup of coups circa 2002.
In the U.S., The Voice had Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera for the first three seasons until the latter two were replaced by Usher and Shakira for the fourth, which will premiere March 25 on NBC. With the exception of Aguilera, whose last album, 2011's Lotus, became her second to flop, all are contemporary hitmakers, literally. And even Aguilera remains a notable celebrity. Couldn't the Australian producers get one international star capable of topping the pop charts in 2013?

Replacing Keith Urban with Ricky Martin as a judge last year when Urban relocated to this season's American Idol judges table may have seemed like a bigger win for Australia's The Voice at the time, but now I'm not so sure. With Urban offering the most constructive commentary of all the AI judges this season and generally coming off as the sane one (not hard when you've got Nicki Minaj looking like a mad alien, Mariah Carey posing like she'd rather be shooting a music video, and Randy Jackson being himself), and Urban's wife Nicole Kidman pretty much guaranteed to turn up in the audience at the finale, I'd now say the U.S. got the better part of that deal.

But I didn't come here just to be snarky. I came to offer birthday props to Seal, who turned 50 today. Though he lost the 1992 Best New Artist Grammy to Marc Cohn, at one point in the '90s, he seemed more likely to still have a formidable chart career at 50 than most of his contemporaries. Though he's better known these days for his marriage and then un-marriage to supermodel Heidi Klum than he is for his recent tunes (none of his last three albums, including 2011's Soul 2, produced anything resembling a hit single), no one can call him less than qualified for his current TV gig.

If I bother to watch Australia's The Voice, I'll be on Team Seal, which already won the first season. (Ricky Martin, handsome as ever at 41, has always oozed too much smarm to make me root for him, on or off the charts.) And if I don't watch, I'll be listening -- if only to Seal, via his tunes on my iPod.

The Top 5 Seal Songs on My iPod

5. "Amazing (Thin White Duke Main Mix)" (from System, 2007)

4. "If I Could" (from Seal, 1994)

3. "Human Beings" (from Human Being, 1998)

2. "Killer" (from Seal, 1991)

1. "Violet" (from Seal, 1991)

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