For the first time all competition long, Monday night’s “The Voice” is where things begin to get really interesting. Out of the artists who perform, two people leave regardless of whose team that they are a part of. This means that we have our first opportunity to see whether or not we will have another sweep by Blake Shelton’s team in the finale.
For those of you who are Blake-haters, you’re probably going to pull your hair out thinking about how good his entire team was across the board this week. There wasn’t a dud performance in the bunch! Country music rocked the night, and we think instead that Shakira and Usher are the two with genuine reasons to worry.
Vedo, “Rock With You” (Usher) – Not the way that we personally wanted to see the night start. The issue for Vedo, and for other singers like him, is that singing competitions just aren’t made for people like him to do well. You can’t have that vocal clarity dancing around, which is why you see a lot of big-name popstars bashed when they come on these shows. They’re trying to give a great performance that works live, but suffers for TV viewers.
Holly Tucker, “Broken Wing” (Blake Shelton) – We were worried about Holly before tonight given all the country competition. We’re not so worried now. Her voice could be heard from one side of Mammoth Cave to the other. The difference between her and Kree Harrison on “American Idol” is that while Holly may have the better voice, Kree really makes us feel like a part of the performance.
Garrett Gardner, “I Want It That Way” (Shakira) – This is not a performance that really did Garrett any favors at all. It was really a showcase of the fact that Shakira is new as a mentor, and doesn’t know what things work. Don’t force an indie rocker to go mainstream, since watching Garrett try to do the Backstreet Boys was just awkward.
Sarah Simmons, “The Story” (Adam Levine) – Cool song choice by Adam Levine that is another ballad, but is at least much more rock-focused and not so sleepy as “Angel.” Sarah’s voice was powerful, and she carried herself well yet again. The only issue we can think of is that it did not have that mega-punch it probably needed.
The Swon Brothers, “Whose Gonna Fill These Shoes” (Blake) – In a tribute to George Jones, the brothers personally selected this song. First off, major applause to “The Voice” for actually clearing songs the artists want to sing. We also felt that this was a soft, genuine performance rather than just capitalizing on a tragic event for votes.
Sasha Allen, “Alone” (Shakira) – What in the world happened here? Sasha was emotionally all over the place for the entire song, and we don’t know if there were lyric or vocal problems early on, and it felt like a disservice that none of this was brought up or addressed. Basically, the show exposed itself for what it is sometimes: Fluff, and afraid to ask interesting questions. Her voice is great, but we sometimes need understanding to go with that.
Josiah Hawley, “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” (Usher) – Josiah looks a little like Danny O’Donoghue from The Script, so that in itself seems to be appropriate. It’s been easy to be hard on him, mostly because he has the actual challenge of convincing everyone that there is genuinely so much more here than a good-looking dude with a decent voice. We wish the camera was a little less jerky, but we give him credit: It was a good vocal, and we genuinely felt a connection that we have been so longing for him to have.
Danielle Bradbery, “Wasted” (Blake) – It’s funny that Blake Shelton told his singer here that he wanted her to do something that was different than anything on the radio, and he thus decided to give her a Carrie Underwood song. Wait, what? We have yet to see anything from Danielle that reinvents the wheel, but she is excellent just from the standpoint of giving people precisely what they want: Solid country performances.
Judith Hill, “You’ve Got a Friend” (Adam) – Ladies and gentlemen, another example of why Judith is set to go very far this season. It still feels almost like she is in a completely different league than some of the other contestants, which may be expected in some ways given that she has mountains more experience.
Michelle Chamuel, “Call Your Girlfriend” (Usher) – Someone needed to raise the level on Michelle’s mic, since we personally found this to be the most interesting performance of the night. She has such a cool style, and she really has mastered the art of performing and moving without it destroying her tone.
Kris Thomas, “I’ll Be There” (Shakira) – There are very few artists that we actually think have any business at all performing a song from the Jackson 5, but Kris understands it. He has the perfect voice to pull it off, and without shock he did. At the moment, he’s the only member of Shakira’s team that really hit the nail on the head this week.
Amber Carrington, “I’ll Love You Through It” (Adam) – It’s weird to see Amber say she wants to do more pop, and then sing a song from Martina McBride. She desperately wanted to do it, and in some ways it was the emotional closing-song performance that you expect from someone who has been sitting around watching everyone else perform for 2 hours. It wasn’t the earth-shattering arrangement that she had last year, but Adam yet again proved that he has a major diamond in the rough here with Amber.
Who’s your pick as #1 for the night? Sound off below, and you can also compare your picks to how we ranked the contestants before the show. (Fair warning: There will probably be plenty of differences here!)