On May 17th at the Fonda Theatre on Hollywood Blvd., in the 3rd-annual Grammy Showcase, Mark Ballas, a prolific dancer and Dancing with the Stars staple since 2007, combined forces with his fiancé, BC Jean (Brittany Jean Carlson). Together, they showed a capacity audience what their two-person band, Alexander Jean, is all about.
The stylish and talented duo, which is expected to release their Head High EP album on June 3rd (and is prepping for their tour by the same name on June 17th), are a welcome throwback to days of yore when artists let their musicality, not frills, do the speaking for them.
On stage, just like in real life, Ballas and Jean complement each other well. Ballas adds to his appeal by being both a virtuoso on the guitar and a co-vocalist to Jean, whose confident stage presence and lead vocals capture the attention of even the most jaded fans. Jean isn’t new to the game, either, having written “If I were a Boy,” which Beyoncé made into a top hit, domestically and internationally.
At the Fonda Theatre, when Jean and Ballas performed parallel to each other on nearly opposite ends of the stage, or stood side by side, each one contributing 100 percent, it became obvious that there was a tangible X-factor feeling in the air. The two were on the same page, even down to the commonality of wearing round-brimmed hats.
During their short but sweet set, two standout singles resounded with those in attendance. The first was “Roses and Violets,” a song that climbed to as high as No. 6 on iTunes’ overall chart. The 3-and-a-half-minute piece focuses on the roller coaster anguish of love, and the paradox of feeling both forlorn and filled with happiness.
On the record or live, Jean’s vocals are wistful, made up of a poignant mixture of courage and longing. This is apparent when she sings, “you’re miles away, but your heart feels close by,” or when she asks, “why can’t love just be enough?” When she holds and sustains the note on “you” and “blue,” the listener feels like they’re being called to, implored with an earnest question.
The last song performed was “Thief,” the band’s current single, which charted as high as No. 5 on iTunes’ Singer/Songwriter chart. The song serves as a fusillade of flirtatiousness, but also an admonition. Jean conveys this properly with, “if love is a crime, I’ll rob you blind” and “just one taste leaves you wanting more, but baby I got you beat.”
Rhythmically, the trajectory of the lyrics in “Thief” exist along a crescendo plane that flies high, replete with harmony, and the quiet admission that “you had it coming, deserve to be punished / don’t mess with a woman…scorned, scorned.”
The last notable moment at the Fonda Theatre, and by not any means the least, was the rousing surprise of just how proficient Ballas is on the guitar. At one point, he removed his hat and stood center-stage, taking the standing-only crowd on a solo journey where he channeled his string instrument to the otherworld and back. The only recourse that attendees had was to look at each other, unable to explain how one individual can be supremely talented in so many artistic areas.
For more information about the band, visit