Jordan Smith

Something Beautiful

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Jordan Smith, winner of the ninth season of the televised singing competition The Voice, belongs to a reality show tradition inaugurated by Clay Aiken and perfected by Susan Boyle: an old-fashioned, anodyne singer who would've been perfectly at home on either the Andy Williams or Lawrence Welk show. Smith exists somewhere between the two poles of Aiken and Boyle. His Broadway-bound style isn't as malleable as Clay's, so he can't quite be put into a modern setting, but he's certainly not as musty as Susan. There's an eagerness to his singing that betrays his youth, a quality that distinguishes his versions of shopworn standards ("Over the Rainbow," "Amazing Grace," "You Are So Beautiful") while also allowing him to sidestep the question of actually interpreting the songs. This same sentiment applies not only to his happy renditions of AAA standards by Christina Aguilera ("Beautiful"), Billy Joel ("And So It Goes") and Sarah McLachlan ("Angel"), but also to the tracks that are nominally hipper, such as a cover of Rihanna's "What Now" that finds the song's soft, mushy heart. This and the overheated neo-gospel of "Stand in the Light" and show tune soul of "Ain't Got Far to Go" are produced by David Foster and Stephan Moccio so they can slide into any office or waiting room playlist on either side of the Atlantic Ocean, an anonymous bed that winds up emphasizing Smith's relentless good cheer. He's just happy to be here, happy to be singing, and whether you find that something to smile about depends entirely on how ingratiating you find that starry-eyed optimism.

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