We’re down to 10, and it’s looking like all our coaches this season are going to avoid “pulling an Xtina” and losing all their contestants with a bunch of shows to go. Adam’s got three ladies that could all be in the finals, Blake’s got the fantastic-beyond-her-years Danielle Bradbery, Usher’s got forever-likable Michelle Chamuel, and Shakira….wait.
I’ve been calling Sasha Allen a contender since her audition, and she’s without a doubt one of the strongest voices this season. With Garrett Gardener’s run for glory mercy-killed by the fans last week and Kris Thomas clearly on the ropes, Sasha could very well be Shakira’s only hope. A couple weeks ago that would have been fine, but Sasha was frankly really bad last week, and is starting to veer into ‘American Idol’-style, “I only sing big songs like I’m on a Broadway stage” territory. She needs to anchor herself back in the contemporary music scene this week, because ‘The Voice’ voters are not going to put up with that the same way that A.I. voters do.
And if she doesn’t? Well, Shakira may well be this season’s Xtina, sitting through the last month of shows with no purpose and sadly trying to co-opt other coach’s favorites.
Will it happen? Let’s find out! HERE WE GO!
-Here to welcome us to the top-10, it’s the world’s most advanced artificial intelligence program Carson Daly! Before we get started, my predictions to go home this week are Kris Thomas and Holly Tucker. Although, rumor is that Kris is performing Miguel’s “Adorn” tonight, which is exactly the kind of song I’ve been wishing he’d sing since his audition. We’ll see how it goes – I’ve got high hopes. If it doesn’t go well, at the very least let’s hope Kris executes a flying leg drop on Carson.
-Here’s Maroon 5 to kick things off. At this point, all their songs sound identical to me. My favorite Maroon 5 track is probably still “Harder to Breathe”, but that’s par for the course with me – my favorite Matchbox 20 song is still “Push”. I know, I’ll just ‘cool story, bro’ myself and move on.
-Now for everyone’s favorite segment, “Carson awkwardly interviews the coaches for 5 minutes”! Strong way to lead off the hour, ‘The Voice.’ I am glad that they brought up today’s awful disaster in OKC and had Blake say a few words about it.
Up first, we’ve got…
Holly Tucker, “How Great Thou Art”
Hold on hold on, let me guess: a slow ballad?!?! DING DING DING! Holly casually mentions that she “showed off her bluesy side” last week. Uh, really? By my count, she’s on a streak of singing ballads ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE TIME. Anyway, this is “How Great Thou Art”, a gospel song. Look, Holly’s welcome at my church any time, and she does a perfectly nice job – but what does this even accomplish? We all KNOW Holly can sing this kind of song, mainly because she’s been singing slow, sad ballads for THE ENTIRE SEASON TO DATE. NOBODY IS DOUBTING THAT YOU CAN SING THIS SONG, HOLLY.
But whether it’s intentional not, I suspect that choosing an overt gospel song will garner plenty of votes for Holly, probably enough to save her this week. So, savvy? Or just a happy coincidence? I don’t know, but I could see Holly advancing to next week now.
Judith Hill, “The Way You Make Me Feel”
Although Judith is unsure, I like this song choice for a number of reasons, most notably that it gives her a chance to address the talk that Judith’s been overplaying her connection with Michael Jackson (it’s not her fault; if you feel that way, blame the producers of the show). And also, this is an upbeat song, and it’s about time for an upbeat song from Judith. On stage, Judith surprisingly opens slowly and with her trademark delicacy, then the song picks up and she’s dancingcing and having fun, and culminates with a pretty awesome few bars of yelling. My oh my, Judith. She is PHENOMENAL. I’m running out of ways to say this. That was wonderful. Judith is fantastic.
Christina Milian interview break! She fawns over Josiah, then reveals that he’s like best friends with Michelle Chamuel.
The Swon Brothers, “How Country Feels”
Coming off their triumphant acoustic duo performance, will the Swons stick with what’s working, or go back to their bar-rocking roots? Looks like the latter. And it’s a mistake. This is a performance that you’d see at a bar and not be that impressed with. I ranked the Swons dead-last in my post-audition rankings, and I’m shocked they’ve made it this far. But I suspect they’d have gone home last week if they didn’t transcend themselves with a VERY good performance, and now I’m thinking they’ll go home this week because they didn’t.
Amber Carrington, “Breakaway”
Amber’s been consistently terrific, and may be an under-the-radar contender to make the finals. Adam’s given her a Kelly Clarkson song this week, which is fascinating. This is something that Blake would never do, and Adam’s clearly trying to steer Amber away from country and more towards mainstream pop. I’m not entirely sure this is within her range though, at least the first verse. And she’s straining a bit during the chorus. I can’t remember Amber having any vocal issues prior to this, so this is a shocker. She gets it together for a pretty nice moment where the music cuts out late in the song, but overall this was not good. I’m not even giving it a “mediocre”. That was sub-par for this stage of the season. I don’t think Amber’s at any risk of going home this week, but let’s just say that Judith and Danielle will NEVER have a performance that bad. That’s why they’re a cut above Amber.
Sasha Allen, “Next to Me”
CEE LO IN THE HOOOOOUSE! At least the rehearsal studio. As mentioned in the intro, this is a big performance for Sasha. This is a much better sgong choice than last week, allowing her to feel a little more contemporary and radio-friendly. I still feel like the staging is a little too theatrical, and vocally she’s not as rock solid as she was near the beginning of this season. But this is still quite a bit better than last week. Adam and Blake hit it on the head and basically say what I just wrote, and Shakira adorably over-praises the performance. Can’t really blame her – after tomorrow, there’s a very real chance that Sasha will be her only remaining contestant.
Josiah Hawley, “Clocks”
PHARRELL IN THE HOOOOUSE! Pharrell tells Josiah to “leave the model thing alone.” Pharrell is the best. Anyway, Josiah is shockingly given ‘Clocks’ to sing. Look, I went through a Coldplay phase, I’m not going to lie to you. But this feels like a dated song choice, and more towards “would-be rocker” Josiah rather than “tender acoustic crooner” Josiah, which I’m not sure is advantageous for him. It’s not terrible, but it’s not good. Shakira nails it: that felt like a cheap facsimile of a Coldplay song. Josiah doesn’t have the chops to pull off a Chris Martin vocal, plain and simple. Not a good week for him.
Danielle Bradbery, “Heads Carolina, Tails California”
It’s been a rocky night so far, but here’s Danielle to save the day. Blake’s giving her a country song, of course, but one that appears to be more rock-infused that usual, so there’s that. Blake calls her “his retirment”. Blake knows where his bread is buttered. Danielle’s voice is so pure and full, I can’t even imagine her having an off-week. I have to be honest, I can’t tell the difference between any of these country songs, but I can tell that Danielle sings them the best. With Amber struggling this week, the gap between them is wider than it’s been all season.
Kris Thomas, “Adorn”
I’ve been driving the Kris Thomas bandwagon since his audition, but a string of mediocre weeks has me ready to jump off. But alas, Shakira pulls me back in by giving him “Adorn” to sing this week. I can’t even express how excited I am about this week, and that’s before we even get to the possibility of a Miguel-style flying legdrop. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem too excited about it himself, revealing that he’s been in an “on and off” relationship for 5 years. Yikes. He starts slowly and is visibly lacking confidence. It’s not good at the beginning, to be honest, but picks up noticeably late once he gets a chance to unleash his falsetto and go on a few runs.
Adam nails it right off the bat: Kris ABSOLUTELY HAS THE CHOPS to sing that song, which is so rare. But he doesn’t have the swagger. If you watch Miguel on stage, when he’s not leg-dropping random audience members he’s bouncing around, smiling, having fun. Kris looked terrified. And you could hear it in his voice – not in the tone or anything, but in the lack of confidence. I wanted to love Kris this week so badly, but I think he’s for-sure going home now.
Sarah Simmons, “Momma Knows Best”
A Jessie J song?! Whoa boy. And Sarah chose it for herself! Quite excited for this one. Adam tries to reign her in, but I’m opposed to that – LET SARAH BE SARAH! If she wants to yell the entire song, LET’S DO THIS! Sarah subsequently IGNORES HIM AND JUST YELLS THE F OUT OF THE SONG! Oh, I’m having a lot of fun during this one. Sarah’s got SWAGGER FOR DAYS RIGHT NOW. Is this the same girl who has been tenderly singing ballads?! SHE’S WALKING OVER TO THE BAND AND CHILLING WITH THEM WHILE SHE YELL-SINGS! What is even going on!!! WHOOOOOA BOY. PERFORMANCE. OF. THE. SEASON.
Michelle Chamuel, “Just Give Me a Reason”
Usher and Pharrell dole out some tough love to Michelle in rehearsals, but Pharrell gives her some high praise at the end. Michelle’s going slow this week, which is probably a good call after last week’s mediocre rock-pop romp. A Pink song feels about right for her, too. Have to be honest, I’m still totally reeling from Sarah Simmons, but Michelle is all right. She has a much, MUCH better voice than I initially thought, and it really comes out in these slow songs in a way that it doesn’t when she’s stomping around the stage. That said, this isn’t her best vocal of the season. Usher over-praises her and embarrassingly claims this was the performance of the night. Is it too late for Kris to jump from the rafters and leg drop him?
Best tonight: Sarah Simmons. Sarah Simmons all day. Sarah Simmons all night. Sarah Simmons over everything. Does she have to sing another ballad this season, Adam? LET SARAH LIVE!
Worst tonight: Lots to choose from, sadly. Josiah’s tepid take on Coldplay, Amber’s shockingly spotty Kelly Clarkson number, Kris’ disappointing ‘Adorn’…but I’ll go with the Swon Brothers’ bland, forgettable effort. I’ve been calling them a bar band since auditions, and that’s what they are.
Going home: I don’t know how Kris can withstand another subpar week, so I’m choosing him. For the second spot, Holly would be a natural choice, though I’m curious how her gospel song will do on iTunes. Swons are a possibility as well.