Viktor Kiraly didn’t write every song he performed Sunday afternoon (April 3) at the Billboard Lounge at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, but the Hungarian-American pop singer feels a close bond—familial in some cases—to all six.
His two covers—Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and Lisa Stansfield’s “Been Around the World”—were tunes he performed on Season 9 of The Voice, where he initially turned all four judges’ chairs and wound up making the live playoffs round.
Accompanied on Sunday by just a keyboard player, who like him rocked a snazzy black suit, Kiraly handled both songs with aplomb, showcasing the assertive, tastefully showy vocals and easygoing charm that had Adam Levine and later Gwen Stefani on his side. These qualities have also made him a star in Hungary, where the New York native moved with his family in 1999 and won the TV talent show Megasztar in 2008.
If Kiraly’s style is better suited to nonpolitical songs like Stansfield’s, Kiraly packed enough hope and hurt into Gaye’s protest classic to suggest he reads the news and knows how screwed up the world is right now.
Two of the songs were written by his sister, fellow Hungarian star Linda Kiraly, who stepped up and sang the daylights out of “Got No Time,” a self-affirming post-breakup ballad that requires nothing less than the bite she gave it. Viktor gamely supplied backup vocals, letting his older sis belt some big notes and temporarily steal the show with her outsized personality.
Kiraly’s set also included two originals: opener “Solo,” featuring a lively prerecorded R&B backing track and show-stopping high note, and closer “Soul Fire,” which he said was about a hard decision he recently had to make.
Whatever the drama was all about, he made it through. As Linda beamed and sang along, Viktor played to the lounge crowd like it was a national TV audience. Clearly, The Voice was a key moment in his burgeoning stateside career, but he doesn’t need Adam or Gwen to grab a room’s attention.