Laith Al-Saadi on the upside of not winning 'The Voice'
The odds were always stacked against him.
Ann Arbor's Laith Al-Saadi was one of tens of thousands of singers who applied during the open call for "The Voice" season 10. He made the cut, guaranteeing a blind audition in front of coaches Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Pharrell Williams and Blake Shelton.
He made it through the battle rounds, the knockouts, and finally to the live performance shows. He made it through week after week of popular voting, as the field narrowed from twenty to ten and then down to the final four.
And every week, the coaches, host Carson Daly, bloggers and entertainment writers would refer to Laith Al-Saadi as an unlikely success.
Laith Al-Saadi doesn't dance. He doesn't preen. He's 38 years old, has a long beard and long hair. He doesn't sing Bruno Mars songs. Instead, he employs a powerful, well-trained voice and phenomenal guitar chops to perform authentic rock, soul and blues music.
On a show like "The Voice," that made Laith Al-Saadi an unlikely success. But it showed that at least a portion of the American public - and not an insignificant portion - is hungry for real music sung by real people.
In the end, Laith Al-Saadi didn't win "The Voice," but he did make it all the way to the finals, and was one of four singers competing for the top prize of $100,000 and a record deal with Universal Music Group.
And when it all came down to it, Laith Al-Saadi was really quite pleased with that outcome.
The winner of "The Voice" is locked into a long-term contract.
"It's a 360 deal," said Al-Saadi. "It means they represent you in every facet of your life. They really do kind of own you. They own your intellectual property, they own your merchandising, they own the rights to you, and to obviously making records with you and your touring and all that stuff.
"This is probably not going to be popular to say, but I actually never wanted to win. That was my scariest thing even about going into the situation is what that was, to possibly give up. And the thing is, it's probably foolish of me because that is a wonderful record company, they're huge, they have immense power compared to what I could do independently or with a small label."
Laith Al-Saadi stopped by the Ann Arbor News and MLive office when he got back to town after his months spent in Los Angeles filming "The Voice" for a short acoustic set and interview.
"Newsflash, it's harder to play and sing at the same time, honestly."
"If I felt like it took away from what I was able to do vocally, I would be the first to take it away. But it didn't. And I hope switching to piano did help show that a little it."