Even before the announcement that the once untouchable now slumping American Idol was headed for its last rodeo next season, the talk around the industry was that its most recent chief rival, The Voice, was now the big singing competition on the block. For the last few years, the show has beaten Idol in the much coveted 18-49-year-old demographic, the advertising world's money-generating sweet spot. And yet despite its rise in popularity, it has yet to capture American Idol's ability to create stars.
Indeed, the landmark Idol, which at its peak routinely grabbed more than 30 million viewers, has produced the multi-platinum likes of Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson and Chris Daughtry, soulful Broadway star Fantasia Barrino, an Oscar winner in Jennifer Hudson, and a string of successful solo albums ranging from Idol favorite Clay Aiken to part-time Queen frontman Adam Lambert. The running joke was that The Voice has been better at promoting its superstar panel of judges (Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Pharrell, and Christina Aguilera) than its contestants.
That is until the arrival of Sawyer Fredericks. Here are five reasons the baby face 16-year-old acoustic folk crooner is poised to rewrite the book on life after The Voice.
He's Already Had An Impact On The Charts
So far, Fredericks has had a more impressive run on the music charts than previous Voice winner Craig Wayne Boyd. The youthful old soul's compilation album, which pulls together performances from the singer's successful run on the NBC staple, was last week's 11th best-selling new release. Fredericks' The Complete Season 8 Collection sold 10,956 copies topping Boyd's Complete 7 Collection, which tallied around 4,000 units. Fredericks' collection also sits at the Billboard Albums Sales chart at no. 25. But what's really turning heads is the performance of his Ray LaMontagne-penned track "Please." Following the Monday finale of The Voice, the original song leapfrogged to no. 2 on Itunes.
Fredericks Has The Perfect Musical Template
If Fredericks wants to look for inspiration on how to find success on his own terms as an emotive, quirky, acoustic guitar-strumming performer he should look no further than platinum British redhead Ed Sheeran. The lauded singer-songwriter has become a Grammy-winning darling with such hits as "The A Team," "Sing," "Don't," and the massive "Thinking Out Loud." A huge part of Frederick's magical Voice run was his innate ability to strip down a song to its rawest form. Sheeran shares the same gift: one voice, one guitar.
He Puts His Own Stamp On The Classics
A kid barely out of his pre-teens is not supposed to confidently share the stage with a rock and roll icon on the level of John Fogerty. But there was Sawyer Fredericks passionately belting out a wailing duet with the former Creedence Clearwater Revival lead singer on the swaggering "Born On A Bayou." Indeed, it's no mere fluke. Fredericks also brilliantly took on the Neil Young classic "Old Man." But it was his stirring cover of John Lennon's 1971 anthem of peace "Imagine" that truly proved that the kid has some major chops.
Pharrell Is Backing The Kid
Throughout The Voice's run, the series' headlining level judges have been quite impressive. In addition to this past season's roster of star judges, the show has featured CeeLo Green, Gwen Stefani, Usher and Shakira in the infamous rotating chair. But only Pharrell Williams, Fredericks' Voice mentor, has a proven track record as an across-the-board star maker. The in-demand producer and songwriter has been behind hits from the diverse likes of Jay Z, Stefani, Daft Punk, Snoop Dogg, and, more intriguingly, the aforementioned Sheeran.
If Mr. Happy can transform the UK-born ginger into a funkateer, he should be able to work similar magic for the easy-to-root-for Sawyer. "I couldn't ask for a better coach," Fredericks praised Pharrell during a press conference. "I feel like he's really helped me through all this and really wanted me to be true to myself and that was the biggest thing he wanted me to be. Just stay true to myself and enjoy the music."
Sawyer Fredericks Has IT
The engaging, out-of-the-box voice. The farm boy charm. The boyish, pinup looks. The hair. Fredericks seems to be tailor made for stardom. He's a TWEEN DREAM in the making. But it's his throwback appeal that may be his biggest trump card. "Here's a guy that possesses this ability to tap into something that we all know is bigger than all of us," Pharrell said of Fredericks in front of a throng of reporters recently. "He's humble and he's proud of being a farm hand and he's named all of his animals, believe it or not. Straight up. He has this amazing life that he wouldn't trade for anything."