NBC’s ‘The Voice’ review: Sarah Simmons, Michelle Chamuel produce big moments

The Voice“The Voice” top ten came out tonight with big aspirations, and we really have to say that the gang did their best to live up to it. While there were a few stumbles (most of them being from the men), there was strong performance after strong performance almost all night. Plus, creative song choices! Mark Burnett is seriously laughing at Nigel Lythgoe right now. We still don’t understand why “American Idol” cannot clear more songs.

Before we get into the review, let’s start with this: We genuinely felt for Blake Shelton tonight, and if we are being honest, we could tell that he really would have rather been off taking care of his family rather than sitting around and doing work.

Holly Tucker, “How Great Thou Art” – The problem that Holly really seems to be having is that in while Michelle Chamuel has excelled at connecting to almost any song, there is a little disconnect between her and the music she is performing. The best way that we can try to explain is it that it is almost akin to her focusing so much on making the notes beautiful (which she does) that she loses feeling in the process. We’re not sure we would do a song that is so religious on TV since it does keep a certain voting blocks away, but more power to her if that is what she wants to get across. We just hope to live in a world someday where other religions are given the same freedom on singing shows.

Judith Hill, “The Way You Make Me Feel” – We’re not going to blame Judith for covering a song from her idol in Michael Jackson, mostly because it was forced on her to do something that she has worked so hard to stray against. We applaud her for not wanting to just be known for singing at his funeral. Strangely, what we disliked the most about her performance of the track was her shoes, since they restricted her movement to a very small portion of the stage.

We’ll get off our soapbox immediately after this comment: The whole post-performance bit with Carson Daly and the judges felt like a way to reinforce that the producers were looking forward to finding a way to get Judith in tears after this.

The Swon Brothers, “How Country Feels” – This is probably one of the reasons why so many country artists pick Blake, because he really is the best coach for a true country artist. Nobody else would have probably been able to pull this song out for them. They are the only duo left, and also the purest of any of the country acts. This performance just wasn’t on the same level as their George Jones number from last week, mostly because this really did feel much more like a cover than what they have done the past week or two.

Amber Carrington, “Breakaway” – There was a problem almost right away when it came to Amber’s diction. In her lower register, it sounds more like she is mumbling than singing. It got better as the song went on, and we will personally use this as a case study as to why when it comes to the band, sometimes much less is more. The best moment of the entire song was when they stopped playing.

Sasha Allen, “Next To Me” – This song has been total overkill on singing shows lately, but Sasha has the best version that we’ve heard so far. Heck, it was better than when Amber Holcomb did it on the “American Idol” finale with Emeli Sande. She just had fun with it! It didn’t feel just like she was singing because she had to, and this is the Sasha that we loved so much in the early rounds reappearing before our eyes yet again.

Josiah Hawley, “Clocks” – Usher may not be the funniest coach, but his advice to Josiah, and honesty about his window of opportunity, is why he is such a good coach. He really takes this very seriously and with that, now comes the painful part. This performance was dreadful. Josiah couldn’t handle the notes, and his smile / audience interaction suggested almost that he didn’t really get what this song is about. This is not something that can be replicated in a short amount of time. Hence he got the critique from Shakira that this was a “great attempt.”

Danielle Bradbery, “Heads Carolina, Tails California” – Great song choice by Blake. It’s not one that everyone knows, and in this context, it really benefited her. It was fun, youthful, and perfect for this time of year. Usher’s right: This is why the dude has won two seasons of the show, and he may win a third here based on how strong Danielle performs on iTunes. We expect this one to be a killer.

Kris Thomas, “Adorn” – Miguel is the “it boy” of the music world right now, and it was nice to have somebody try to cover it. Unfortunately, Kris has not been able to really channel his emotional side for most of the season. Instead, he’s come across at times as a likable guy who’s trying really hard to have a moment, but it’s just not happening down in his core. Between Josiah and Kris this week, we’re seeing why the Swon Brothers are the only men this season with a shot.

Sarah Simmons, “Mamma Knows Best” – Wow. What a big vocal this was. Sarah rocked out, and showed that she just doesn’t have to be some sort of ethereal number to impress people. This was a strong, powerful, and a completely different side of her that we want to see every time she hits the stage.

Michelle Chamuel, “Give Me a Reason” – This performance is emblematic of why Michelle is our favorite contestant this seasons. She is a very strong singer, but more importantly, she has a unique feeling to really make you care about every word she sings. This was the most emotional performance we’ve heard yet of a song that’s been played everywhere the past few months.

Who was your favorite tonight? Do you think that Blake should have been forced to be there? If you want to compare our picks tonight to our pre-show rankings, you can do so over at the link here.

Photo: NBC

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