We’re halfway through the Live Playoffs, but only 1/3 of the way through this very long week of ‘The Voice’! Tonight, Team Shakira and Team Blake will perform for your affections, votes, and iTunes purchases. Following tonight’s performances, I’ll make my official predictions for who goes home on each team at the bottom of this column.
As a reminder, here are my rankings of all 16 remaining contestants that I’ll be referring to throughout tonight:
16. Garrett Gardner (Shakira)
15. Vedo (Usher)
14. The Swon Brothers (Blake)
13. Caroline Glaser (Adam)
12. Kris Thomas (Shakira)
11. Cathia (Usher)
10. Josiah Hawley (Usher)
9. Michelle Chamuel (Usher)
8. Karina Iglesias (Shakira)
7. Holly Tucker (Blake)
6. Justin Rivers (Blake)
5. Amber Carrington (Adam)
4. Danielle Bradbery (Blake)
3. Sasha Allen (Shakira)
2. Judith Hill (Adam)
1. Sarah Simmons (Adam)
Based on last night’s performances, I’ve got Michelle too low – I’d probably bump her up to 5, between Danielle Bradbery and Amber Carrington. But, that may change tonight, so stay tuned.
Let’s get right to it!
-Carson opens the show with a recap of last night. Based on iTunes purchases and buzz, Amber Carrington won the evening, which is bad news for my coffehouse girl Caroline Glaser.
-Blake talks about how he manipulated his team to have all country artists, making everyone who cares about the show a little queasy. Shakira makes up for it by being genuinely nervous about her team’s performances this evening. Adorable!
-CarsonBot corrects Adam, who pronounces Michelle Chamuel’s name wrong while praising her.
-We meet Team Blake, who Blake has dragged to a karaoke bar. BOOO BLAKE, BOO! I’m rooting hard against him this year for his Battle/Knockout Round shenanigans, in case you couldn’t tell. Anyway, his team does some truly terrible karaoke, then takes the stage live to sing “Boondocks.” Justin Rivers plays a banjo, which instantly wins me over. Go Justin!
First up tonight is…
#16 Garrett Gardner, “Imagine”
Uh oh, Shakira’s given my last-ranked singer “Imagine” to sing. What could go wrong? Actually, this turns out to be a pretty safe song choice – Garrett doesn’t try anything crazy, and pretty much just sings it by the book. Not great, but honestly about the best Garrett could hope for. Ho hum beginning to the show.
#7 Holly Tucker, “How Do I Live?”
Blakes song choice for Holly is going to be fascinating. So far, she’s only sang slow country ballads. If you do that, you’ve got a zero percent chance of winning the season. So what does Blake give her here? Why, another slow country ballad! It’s the safe choice, but it also means that Holly’s probably not going to last too long in fan voting, because fans are going to be bored of her after a few more weeks of this. Holly starts off REALLY rocky but quickly gets it together, and delivers the super strong performance you’d expect. Someone throw some water on Blake, who thinks Holly is the favorite. She’s very good, but she’s on the second tier of contestants this season until she gets through a non-ballad.
#12 Kris Thomas, “When I Was Your Man”
Here’s my personal favorite contestant, though I’m not sure I like his chances of advancing. Shakira gives him some really good coaching in rehearsals. On stage, Kris starts out visibly nervous, but goes on to deliver a pretty outstanding performance, really unleasing his trademark falsetto near the end. I’m just a huge fan of his. After the performance, Adam picks up on his nervousness, and Blake admits that he doesn’t know where the ‘girl place’ is (Carson Daly is on fire tonight!). Shakira seems to be a genuine fan of Kris’ as well, so that bodes well for him going forward.
#15 The Swon Brothers, “Fishin’ in the Dark”
I still don’t get these guys. They’re like low-rent, country Midas Whale. Have I mentioned that I miss Midas Whale? I miss Midas Whale. Oh right, the Swon Brothers. Ok, well they’re on stage now, singing a song. It’s a country song. It’s pretty fun. I don’t know, what do you want from me? They’re a fun act, like a band you’d see at a bar on a good night. Still not sure I get them. But Shakira nails it: they’re *comfortable*. That’s good and bad.
Halftime: Blake Shelton and Shakira take the stage! They’re singing a Lady Antebellum song. This is fun. Enjoying Shakira trying to navigate her way through a country song.
#8 Karina Iglesias, “Let’s Stay Together”
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate that someone’s singing an Al Green song on ‘The Voice.’ Now, the fact that it’s rocker Karina is REALLY weird, but we’ll see how it goes. The first verse is…fine, but not great. Karina doesn’t have the smooth soulfulness essential to pull this song off. She’s overpowering the groove! It doesn’t work for me at all. The judges like it, so maybe I’m being too hard on her.
#6 Justin Rivers, “Meet in the Middle”
Of all 16 remaining contestants, Justin is the one that I have the least feel for. I have no idea if he’s any good or not. Blake’s got him doing a straight country song, so I’ll likely remain clueless about how good he is. Actually, I can: he’s VERY good! There’s some great style/wardrobe/staging choices going on, and Justin brings great energy and charisma. This felt so much more alive than the Swon Brothers earlier tonight. Justin is the best male contestant this season and it’s not close.
-We take a break to watch a pre-packed piece on Team Shakira preparing. They’re going to sing ‘We Are the Champions’ because apparently Shakira doesn’t believe in jinxes. My analysis: this is SUCH A WEIRD SONG CHOICE.
#4 Danielle Bradbery, “Maybe It Was Memphis”
Alright, time to get serious, because our only two remaining contestants tonight are real contenders for the season. This is Danielle Bradbery, who was the clear-cut Team Blake favorite in my opinion until Justin tonight. Now she needs to re-assert herself. And she pretty much does. Danielle is really, really good, and overcomes a somewhat rocky start to really hammer home a solid effort. I think she’s actually been better in previous performances this season, but this was still quite good. Blake ruins it by over-praising her afterwards. He’s turning into this season’s Xtina.
#3 Sasha Allen, “Oh! Darling”
Shakira’s got Sasha going classically old-school tonight. It starts off slow but picks up in short order. Sasha has the most traditionally powerful voice this season – she can ABSOLUTELY BLOW YOU AWAY with notes. She does that here, with a freakin’ WILD couple moments. Yikes. THAT’S what I’m talking about! I don’t even know what else to say – that was out of control good. Sasha is a great bet for the finals this season, and if I’m being honest, she might be the best overall contestant at this point. She is at least neck-and-neck with Sarah Simmons and Judith Hill. Every other contestant tonight should just go home now.
MY OFFICIAL PREDICTIONS:
Ok, so we are DONE with the Live Playoff performances, with the results being revealed tomorrow night. The top two vote-getters on each team will be safe to advance, and each team’s judge will decide between his or her two remaining singers. My predictions are:
Team Adam: Caroline Glaser goes home. [Amber Carrington and Sarah Simmons voted through, Adam picks Judith Hill]
Team Usher: Cathia goes home. [Michelle Chamuel and Josiah Hawley voted through, Usher picks Vedo]
Team Shakira: Garrett Gardner goes home. [Sasha Allen and Karina Iglesias voted through, Shakira picks Kris Thomas]
Team Blake: Swon Brothers go home. [Danielle Bradbery and Justin Rivers voted through, Blake picks Holly Tucker]