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On NBC’s 'The Voice,' Tony Lucca Does '99 Problems' and Christina Aguilera is One
May 8, 2012  | By David Bianculli  | 4 comments
 

All season, Aguilera’s response to the 36-year-old fellow former Mouseketeer has ranged from lukewarm to condescending – from not recognizing him at his initial audition even after the judges’ chairs were spun around, to comments throughout the season as Lucca, selected as a member of Adam Levine’s team, kept surviving the battle rounds and advancing to the semifinals.

Lucca’s story is an appealing, real-life tortoise-and-the-hare fable. While other appearing on the 1989 Mickey Mouse Club reboot shot to fame more quickly – Aguilera, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, J.C. Chasez, even actors Keri Russell and Ryan Gosling – Luccas has taken the much slower route. But on The Voice, with the encouragement of Levine, he’s taken enough bold chances to stand out and make it to the finals.

A few weeks ago, he confronted his Mickey Mouse background head on by doing a clever hard-rock, and rock-hard, cover of Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time,” which elevated him to a new level. Then, Monday night, he took another chance, singing Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” and transmuting rap into rockabilly.

But though he skipped the “B” word every time he sang the recurring vocal chorus (“99 Problems but the bitch ain’t one”), Lucca was brought to task afterward by Aguilera, who scolded the former Mouseketeer for singing a song whose lyrics were “demeaning to women.”

Lucca and the song were defended by Levine, who explained them away as “a metaphor.” Then, perhaps explaining the blowback from his fellow judge, Levine ripped off his jacket to reveal a glittery “Team Xtina” tee shirt, which made her laugh – and stop scolding Lucca.

Good move.

An even better move, though, might have been for Levine to wear a tee shirt emblazoned with a picture or two of Aguilera from “Not Myself Tonight,” the music video she released just before reinventing herself as a judge on The Voice. One look at those photos, and Aguilera’s “demeaning to women” righteous-indignation stance loses a lot of its righteousness.

Regardless, Aguilera saved the worst for last. After Lucca’s final competitive performance, when host Carson Daly asked Lucca to say a few words to his mentor Levine, Lucca said he’d like to address all four judges.

Lucca thanked them all, with obvious sincerity, for what he called a “life-changing experience.” And as he did so, the director of The Voice switched to a four-shot of the judges in their chairs – and caught Aguilera ignoring Lucca while staring, maybe even texting or Twittering, into her phone.

If she was Twittering, her only comments that night were about her own team-member finalist, Chris Mann. But there’s really no excuse for that sort of dismissive behavior.

To be a judge on The Voice, and not be focused enough to even look up as a finalist is speaking to her on live television, is, perhaps fittingly, a real Mickey Mouse move.

Ironically, she may have thrown a lot of votes Lucca’s way Monday night, should the fans who watch, and cast votes for, The Voice feel that Tony Lucca deserved more respect from Aguilera.

He did.

And after that, Aguilera deserves a little less. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
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4 Comments
 
 
Danny
So men can be sexually explicit and it's not demeaning, but a woman who likes role play, being submissive/ dominant in the bedroom, sex toys.... is demeaning to women? Try and be more open minded and sex positive, and don't preach from the pulpit which constantly is trying to control women and their sexuality. I like the 99 problems song too, but I'm not naive about the bitch analogy to problems in life is also a reference to "having girl problems son." Regardless free speech in the arts is important!
Dec 31, 2012   |  Reply
 
 
David, I think you are right on point here and I think Christina was just trying grab the spotlight again. Lucca's cover was amazing. Right up there with the Gourd's cover of Snoop's Gin-n-Juice. Lucca made that song fun.
May 10, 2012   |  Reply
 
 
Benita
I read a fantastic essay about this that ended with the salient point that there's nothing Americans like more than a man who hates women and while I'm sure you think that you are one of the good guys, you just went ahead and proved the essayist correct.
May 10, 2012   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Benita, I really do beg to differ here. I love women. They're by far my favorite gender. I simply hate rudeness -- and if a student of mine had been using a cellphone like that in one of my classes, he or she would have been taken to task for it -- regardless of gender.
May 11, 2012
 
 
 
Benita
I am so disappointed to see that one of my favorite writers has turned out to be yet another person who sees a case of blatant misogyny and thinks it's all the woman's fault. A song with the word bitch is sung directly at the only female on the panel and when she mildly points out the degrading language of the song, she's the killjoy.
May 10, 2012   |  Reply
 
 
 
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