Posted on Monday, October 23, 2017 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Atlanta's Jon Mero hit "The Voice" battle rounds running and beat another R&B singer 12 years younger on Monday's edition, staying on Team Adam Levine for the upcoming knockout rounds.
Jon was in the pocket, in the zone, just flowing confidently. His opponent Brandon Brown held his own but Jon's experience on the stage was obvious and his vocal depth was superior.
The 32 year old Des Moines native is the only local in the running for season 13 of "The Voice." Nobody from Georgia has won to date though two Atlantans have been coaches: Cee Lo Green and Usher.
After Brandon and Jon sang the Temptations' "I Wish It Would Rain," the judges were effusive.
"Jon, you're special, you're one of those once in a lifetime vocalists," said Blake Shelton, who isn't shy to use hyperbole. He chose Jon as the winner.
"It really felt like a true battle," said Jennifer Hudson, who chose not to express who she felt did better.
Miley Cyrus acknowledged Jon's experience level and basically implied he was going to win.
Coach Adam hyped up both, saying Brandon went from being a good singer to an "incredibly good singer." He noted Jon was doing effortless falsetto runs and ultimately chose him to move on to the knockout rounds.
Earlier during the practice sessions, Levine told Jon that loudness wasn't a path to victory. He needed to soften up sometimes and be more subtle while Brandon had to project more.
I spoke with Jon earlier this month. He's the lead singer of the Celebrity All Star Band, which does corporate and personal events.
Jon said he likes to be a contrarian and went into the initial audition thinking he'd pick Blake if Blake turned his chair. "I love being the odd man out," he said. "That's been the story of my life. I'm a pop singer. He does a lot of country. I want to take my chances where the possibility of there being a plethora of artists like myself would be lower."
Then he proceeded to do the opposite and pick the pop singer in Adam. "He is quite like myself," Mero said. "I've been listening to Maroon 5 since I've been listening to music." [Okay, technically not true. Maroon 5's first hit broke in 2002 and Mero was 17 at the time but I appreciate the sentiment.]
Adam, he said, "juggles so much but he knows how to put songs on the charts." (Maroon 5 has 18 top 40 hits, which is impressive.)
And after listening to all four judges, he said, "I just had to go with Adam. He seemed incredibly passionate. He seemed to really really want to work with me."
Jon did feel badly that he rejected Jennifer. "I couldn't even look at her. I felt so bad. But I had to go with my gut."
He credits his mom for giving him the music bug and the talent. He grew up in Des Moines and stayed until he was 25. "I moved to Atlanta because I wanted to go bigger. There were more opportunities there but it wasn't so big that I'd get overwhelmed."
His influences growing up include Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and James Brown. But as more of a pop-leaning singer, he did feel a little out of place in Atlanta, a hub for R&B and hip hop. After a year of doing open mics, he entered the corporate band scene, doing weddings and parties. He's worked for Budweiser and played events such as the Kentucky Derby and the CMAs.
A couple of times, he's gotten to play with big names like Mickey Thomas of Starship and former "Voice" coach CeeLo Green.
And he chose his initial audition song, Bruno Mars' "Versace on the Floor" because that's the type of music he'd like to record. "He brings so many old-school vibes," he said.