NBC’s ‘The Voice’ review: Erin Willett, Chris Mann take on risks

Who’s out?

Since “The Voice” for some reason likes to speed through their live performance shows at an almost ridiculous pace, someone up above decided to make Monday night’s episode one that featured an elimination to go along with the performances by all of the artists.

The good news was that with only a few exceptions, the members of Team Blake and Team Christina really stepped it up this week and made the decision by their coaches all the more difficult. Then again, both coaches may have arguably made the wrong choice in keeping people who were either less popular, or had less of a personality than other singers with weaker voices.

Team Blake

RaeLynn – She started out the show with “She’s Country,” and it was at least a strong performance — even if the vocals were not particularly great. Isn’t it strange now on a show like “The Voice,” we are giving RayLenn most of her props on something other than vocal quality?

Jordis Unga – Jordis really didn’t have any business being in the bottom three last week, and this performance of “A Little Bit Stronger” proved just how much talent she really has. She doesn’t have to do rock music in order to succeed — she can rock out just as much to country. Or the phone book.

Erin Willett – This was not a perfect performance by any means, but Erin did do a better job of delivering the emotional connection of Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” that few other reality show contestants (think Eben Franckewitz’s dreadful version on “American Idol”) have emulated.

Jermaine Paul – After listening to at least a half-dozen horrific covers of Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds” on other shows, Jermaine handled the vocals pretty well. He also showed off some falsetto that we really didn’t even know he had. Easily, this was his best vocal of the entire competition.

Group performance – Doesn’t anyone else feel that RaeLynn at times tries too hard to sing “country”? She was really the week point of this performance as a whole, which was a bit flat in that it really was four singers and Blake chillin’ on a pile of boxes. (Our tentative winners? Jermaine Paul and Erin Willett.)

Blake’s decision – While we would pick RaeLynn to go home over Jordis any day of the week, Blake obviously loves his country music. This may have also been a strategic move on his part to keep the three performers who have received the most votes last time around, just in hopes one of them could pull off a victory.

Team Christina

Jesse Campbell – Outside of one botched note, this cover of Beyonce’s “Halo,” this was Jesse’s best vocal of the competition. It felt like a man really trying to win this competition, and not just a guy who was on this stage trying just not to embarrass himself by singing in the same register for the entire performance.

Ashley De La Rosa – We’ve learned this week that people enjoy ballads, and unfortunately for Ashley this worked to her disadvantage. Her song was simply not that exciting compared to Jesse or Jordis, but this should not be used to discount what sort of talent that she really does possess. (The again, Jesse and Jordis went home — shows what we know.)

Lindsey Paveo – For the first verse, we absolutely loved the freaky vibe that Lindsey had going singing Katy Perry’s “Part of Me” into a microphone being held by two muscular dudes. However, the chorus fell like an anvil from the sky, and never really went anywhere. She still hasn’t figured out how to push herself yet vocally, and at this point in the season it’s a problem. (We loved how Adam Levine slammed Randy Jackson’s use of “pitchy” in the critique.)

Chris Mann – We still remember to this day the first time we listened to Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida,” and we listened to it at least two hundred times within the span of a few weeks. It is easily one of the strongest, most touching songs of the past decade, and Chris had his hands full. Luckily, he did a pretty good job. Were there some phrasing issues here and there? Sure, but it was great to see him stretch himself and do a performance that he could have a little bit of fun with.

Group performance – This was actually a little bit better than we were expected, especially when it comes to Chris fitting his voice into Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter.” (What’s the number to vote for Christina?) The only real weakness to us here was Lindsey, mostly because she sounded a bit flat compared to everyone else.

Christina’s decision – Christina sent home … Jesse Campbell? What? A man who was favored to win this season? It almost felt like self-sabotage, as Christina took out her most-popular team member from the group. The only thing that could be a possible explanation here is that she is looking beyond just “The Voice,” and Jesse probably has the smallest chance of being successful in the mainstream.

Are you still surprised by some of the decisions made during this elimination? Feel free to share your comments below, and check back Tuesday night for a full look at the live results show!

Photo: NBC

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