Saturday, June 24, 2017

DAM NATION is back on a new web address!

DAM Nation is back! Check out the new and improved DAM NATION site with new content and broader scope! 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


This blog is currently undergoing an overhaul and will soon be going live with a new look. Watch out for it!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Movie Review: La La Land

Vibrant. Joyful. Spellbinding. Not going to lie, the premise of La La Land was relatively familiar and decidedly generic, but the film masterfully made it into something else entirely thanks to the stunning performances of both Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling - both portrayed their role with such aplomb. On a technical standpoint, the film was on point. The music was beautiful and well-placed, the editing was good, the direction was impeccable, and the cinematography was just breathtaking. Oh, and that ending tugged right at the heart. La La Land was a brilliantly conceived cinematic experience that's charming, hopeful, and heartbreaking all at once. Whatever yoi do, find this movie. See it! 9.5

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: Stats and Numbers

Brian Justin Crum's Creep may have topped this year's ORSS, but how did the voting went for the rest of the shortlisted performances of 2016?

Due to the demand of some of the jury and readers who, for the first time, got a view of the roster this year, DAM NATION will reveal the ranking of the rest of the performances as well as some interesting stats.

Without further ado..

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #1 Creep - Brian Justin Crum / America's Got Talent

Brian Justin Crum
America's Got Talent

With the numbers going quite unpredictable this year due to strength of this year's talent pool - just look at the average standard deviation of 16.48 versus last year's 13.27 - it was astoundingly hard to predict who will top the list for 2016.

Cyrus Villanueva's Jealous obliterated everyone last year after topping eleven (11) jury lists. This year, Brian Justin Crum's Creep from America's Got Talent topped a good five (5) jury votes to reign supreme in this year's Olympics of Reality Singing Shows.

The guy brought the house down with a pitch perfect, multilayered vocal performance - impeccable softer notes on the verses, soaring chorus, seamless transitions, dazzling bridge - that never slowed down, all while emanating a sense of vulnerability and rawness in his delivery. It was one of the more powerful vocal performances of the year and this year's Best Reality Singing Show performance.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #2 When We Were Young - Fernando Daniel / The Voice Portugal

Fernando Daniel
The Voice Portugal

Billy Gilman's version of When We Were Young had an aura of perfection and technical brilliance about it, but some of the jury felt that the performance lacked some great deal of raw emotion. Fernando Daniel, on the other hand, showcased vocal accuracy and versatility, not to mention the way he authentically conveyed whatever emotion the song required. And yes, that was enough to lure the jury and put him almost at the top of this year's list.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #3 Diamonds - La'Porsha Renae / American Idol

La'Porsha Renae
American Idol

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: La'Porsha owned this performance! The arrangement was genius, the way her vocals navigated those intricate runs were pretty outstanding, and it was impressive for her to transform a song with limited melody to a total vocal masterclass. You know what's more impressive? Diamonds ranking third on this year's list with not a single jury voting her at the top of their list. Take it in whatever angle you want, but that's some pretty stunning feat.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #4 Purple Rain - Jolan / The Voice UK

The Voice UK

There were plenty of distractions in the staging - aggressively pulsating lightbulbs, the red and blue lights - but Jolan’s thrilling, pitch-perfect vocals drown out everything else, and he’s got the charisma to match his vocal firepower. The way the sparse arrangement of the opening verse highlighted his clean yet textured voice, and even when the music crescendoed to its climax, he was never at risk of being swallowed alive by the band. Purple Rain was one of the few performances that had the right mix of drama and technical skills.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #5 Heart's A Mess - Kim Sheehy / The Voice Australia

Kim Sheehy
The Voice Australia

Gorgeous. Not only was this visually stunning, but Heart's A Mess, as a whole, was just pure magic. Her voice cut through the air like a razor, her diction was crisp and the phrasing was immaculate. Even the way her voice swoops and soared over the chorus was divine. With two (2) juries putting the performance on top of their list and ten (10) more within their Top 10, this was a clear win for the Australian singer.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #6 Who's Lovin' You - Jennie Lena / The Voice Holland

Jennie Lena
The Voice Holland

Who's Lovin' You may have been one of the more overdone songs on the list, but that didn't stop Jennie from ranking this high with the jury. Just from that one insanely impressive run at the beginning, she already had the coaches in her hands - and maybe the jury too. She's ferocious, powerful, violently talented, and a total vocal juggernaut. There was just a sense of abandon in this performance that made it all the more interesting.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #7 Feeling Good - Wé McDonald / The Voice US (Fall)

Wé McDonald
The Voice US (Fall)

What a little slice of heaven it was when Wé McDonald delivered the opening few bars of the song without any musical accompaniment. Her voice sounded sublime and when the band kicked in, her vocals just soared and masterfully navigated the melody of the song. She has one of the most recognizable voices this year and she brilliantly used it here to great effect.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #8 Chandelier - Trent Harmon / American Idol

Trent Harmon
American Idol

Trent was on a rare for the night he performed Chandelier as this was, arguably, one of the most effortlessly exquisite vocals of the year. The control he has over his instrument was second to none in the last season of American Idol and the choice of Chandelier was risky, but worked as this showed a bit more texture in his vocals and some stunning lyrical connection. The jury as a whole somehow agreed giving this performance the lowest standard deviation this year.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #9 Take Me Home - Mikaela Dean / The Voice Australia

Mikaela Dean
The Voice Australia

Mikaela had a beautiful moment with Jess Glyne's Take Me Home. Her understated approach adding an ache and vulnerability at the beginning was stunning to watch and then it build up to a chorus where the delivery felt like a demand, or at least a plea, whereas a lesser vocalist would've struggled to elevate the song past being just empty platitudes. One jury even said that he "got lost with her in the lyrics and it transported me into a totally different headspace". Isn't that one of the many things good music should do to you?

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #10 Waiting Game - Trent Harmon / American Idol

Trent Harmon
American Idol

Beautiful. Pure. Effortless. Waiting Game would've been THE perfect coronation for Trent. His affectations were dialed back, the vibrato was simplified, the vocal choices were also serene and subdued ,and the way he manipulated each note like a sculptor was impressive. Trent delivered a very vulnerable and satisfying performance and he was note perfect in his execution. So, it wasn't a surprise that it finished as high as this and even topping one of the jury's votes. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #11 Gold On The Ceiling - Andrew Loadsman / The Voice Australia

Andrew Loadsman
The Voice Australia

A total rockstar performance!! Andrew's voice is massive and quite unique and the added urgency in his stage presence and delivery made his cover of Gold On The Ceiling all the more compelling. The energy was fantastic, the charisma was oozing, and the overall performance was rocking!

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #12 It's A Man's Man's Man's World - Bryan Bautista & Malik Heard / The Voice US (Spring)

Bryan Bautista & Malik Heard
The Voice US (Spring)

Slow clap for both Bryan and Malik for managing to sound terrific on perhaps one of the most overdone songs on reality singing shows. On lesser vocalists, one might have tripped up technically and emotionally, but both did really well. Bryan used his versatile instrument to nail the lilting high notes and his gorgeously placed falsetto, while Malik swooped down into his lower range to complete the riveting battle performance.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #13 Halo - Isaiah Firebrace / X Factor Australia

13. HALO
Isaiah Firebrace
X Factor Australia

Isaiah Firebrace, just like Wé McDonald, has the one of the most recognizable voices this year and his take on Beyonce's smash hit was just absolutely sublime. He knew exactly how to wring the maximum amount of emotion from a lyric, his phrasing never seemed rushed, his investment in the melody never forced, and his vocal runs were precise. After topping in two (2) jury lists and six (6) Top 10 rankings, it was a bit of a surprise to see Isaiah Firebrace's Halo settle for #13. 

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #14 A Sky Full of Stars - Gloria Jessica / The Voice Indonesia

Gloria Jessica
The Voice Indonesia

Stripping and slowing down well known pop songs are now a dime a dozen and while Gloria Jessica's take on A Sky Full Of Stars didn't really present anything groundbreaking, the performance was still quite gorgeous. She really did sound lovely and the nooks and crannies of her tone soaked up the unexpected poignancy of the lyrics.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #15 When We Were Young - Billy Gilman / The Voice US (Fall)

Billy Gilman
The Voice US (Fall)

The song that started it all (sort of) for Billy Gilman. He has got some seriously insane range - his swooping lower notes in the verse proved just as potent and on-point as his wailing on the chorus - and his pitch was flawless. He's just vocally brilliant, but almost to a fault as some of the jury felt that it lacked the emotions it needed to be entirely effective - especially for an Adele song. If the emotional deft was just as present, this could've ranked a little higher.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #16 Goodbye My Lover - Zheng Jia Wen (郑迦文) / Sing! China

Zheng Jia Wen (郑迦文) 
Sing! China

With a massive standard deviation, Goodbye My Lover was, arguably, the most polarizing performance that entered this year's list, but had enough support to offset the jury members that ranked him in the 50s. Sure, the vocals weren't perfect and one jury mentioned that the performance was too long that it came off boring, but one can't deny the purity of his tone and the gorgeous vulnerability that he infused in his delivery.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #17 Don't Rain On My Parade - Wé McDonald / The Voice US (Fall)

Wé McDonald
The Voice US (Fall)

Was there a quote in some history book somewhere that those who do not know their reality singing show history are doomed to fall short of Barbara Streisand - or any other respected divas for that matter? Well, for some reason, Wé McDonald did and somehow didn't fall on the same traps. She executed it well, giving the song a more youthful undercurrent while showcasing an understanding of dynamics and vocal charisma. Sure, the performance didn't appeal to the majority, but the rest that did, ranked it high enough to catapult it to number 17 in the list.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #18 Writings On The Wall - Matt Terry / X Factor UK

Matt Terry
X Factor UK

The opening verses had a good restraint quality about them, and by the time Matt reached that grand chorus, it was as if his voice had blown-up into something bigger and more ferocious navigating effortlessly the deceptively tricky melody. To some, Sam Smith was a tough act to follow and that his version paled in comparison, but to others, this was one stellar performance with seven (7) of the panelists ranking it within their Top 10. The numbers eventually went to his favor.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #19 Stone Cold - Kimberly Fransens / Idol Netherlands

Kimberly Fransens
Idol Netherlands

DRAMA! Whether there was too much of it or not - based from the jury's comments - Kimberly's take on Demi Lovato's riveting ballad was one for the books. No, this wasn't cleanest, most prestine vocals this year, but there's a real perfection in the nooks and crannies and imperfections of her voice. The dramatic break in her voice, combined with the tortured wail of the chorus, was the kind of from-the-gut singing that upgrades this to something special. Or maybe not. This posted the second highest standard deviation that entered the list and based on the scorecard, you'd understand why.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #20 Valerie - Dave Moisan & Michael Sanchez / The Voice US (Fall)

Dave Moisan & Michael Sanchez
The Voice US (Fall)

Dave Moisan was spotless in his falsetto, while Michael Sanchez's smoky tone was just arm-tingly sublime. There was just so much soul, warmth, and complexity to the blend of their voices, that one could've just basked in two hours of music from the both of them. This was highly favored by some of the jury that one of them even ranked this performance as THE best of the year, with four (4) putting it in their Top 10. Not too shabby for the two dudes that didn't even make the Live Playoffs during their season.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #21 1+1 - Bryan Bautista / The Voice US (Spring)

21. 1+1
Bryan Bautista
The Voice US (Spring)

Bryan displayed so much range - belted and whispered, hit notes of the growly and falsetto varieties and also managed to deliver even the trickiest sequences of notes that looked effortless - that one had to just stop and simply enjoy the performance, all while capturing the sensuality of the song.  This performance scored half of the panel's nod to be part of the Top 25 even placing second from one jury member.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #22 All Of Me - Alfie Arcuri / The Voice Australia

Alfie Arcuri
The Voice Australia

By no means was this the most original or even the most creative performance this year - Alfie was pretty much coloring directly within the template of Sam Smith's hit - but in this particular instance, some of the jury couldn’t help but be wowed by his technical prowess and the way his voice rose and soared without ever going the slightest bit out of tune. His emotional connection to the song was also lauded by the jury. Like this year's trend though, high standard deviation made this an interesting case having ranked as high as #5 and as low as #62.

Olympics of Reality Singing Shows 2016: #23 Holy Grail - Maan de Steenwinkel / The Voice Holland

Maan de Steenwinkel
The Voice Holland

Maan de Steenwinkel's take on Holy Grail showed a lot of creativity stripping down the melody to something more substantial backed by her impressive vocals and her total popstar package. So it was quite a surprise how this ended up as one of the more polarizing performances of the year posting a huge standard deviation. Nonetheless, it had enough love to push it to the upper tier of the group.

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