Eight weeks after the start of season 22 of The voiceNBC’s chant really came to life – at least insofar as it went live on Monday for the Playoffs. The remaining 16 contestants performed in hopes of earning enough viewer votes to advance or impress Blake Shelton, John Legend, Gwen Stefani and/or Camila Cabello that their coach would save them or another coach would steal from them during from Tuesday’s results release.
Now, before discussing the pivotal episode, I want to apologize in advance for my rating. Like the singing, it’s done live, in the moment, so all my reactions are instinctive. When I read the comments on Tuesday morning suggesting my earwax situation got out of hand, I’m sure to go back and review some performances and say, “I’m an idiot.” He never fails. But if you’re ready to buckle down and put up with me, let’s get to the recap, shall we?
Omar Jose Cardona, “Living on a Prayer” — Grade: C | First impression: It’s overworked, like a singer in a musical taking on Bon Jovi. (Also, mandid I miss the pre-softened voice we had during the taped episodes.) Second impression: Not a large selection of songs; it didn’t let Omar Jose’s voice soar in that way that really makes him shine. It was less “Into the Unknown” than “Future Is Uncertain”.
Kim Cruse, “I’ve Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” – Grade: B+ | John’s “velvet powerhouse” delivered a fantastically bluesy take on the Aretha Franklin classic…that I had a feeling she wasn’t going to gain enough votes to guarantee a safe passage to the Top 13 on Tuesday. The notes were there, the power was there, but the song selection… Again, maybe not the wisest choice.
Sasha Hurtado, “Tiny Dancer” — Grade: C+ | After being “tossed around like a hot potato” from team to team, Sasha released a cover of the Elton John hit that started out great, then hit a rough patch. Then another small blow. In the end, I missed the flawlessness and fire that had inspired John to steal it. Perhaps tellingly, Gwen’s first comment to Sasha was, “You’re adorable.” Never a good sign.
Parijita Bastola, “I will never love again” — Rating: A | I had high expectations for Parijita aka the most compelling member of Team Legend, and not only her meet them, her outmoded their. This kid sang it creepy lungs on this stage, bringing to his performance a strength, a vulnerability, a star quality that I was absolutely Gaga about. Isn’t she the one to beat in season 22?
Kique, “As He Was” — Grade: B+ | The teenager whose coach calls him a “diamond in the rough” tackled a slowed-down and ultimately shaken-up rendition of Harry Styles’ smash that was, to my surprise, pretty good. He showed off his range, hit no notes that made me cringe, and even removed the loudest elements from his cover. I just don’t see the “wow” in Kique. (Yes, I hear you: maybe I need to get my glasses checked.)
Kevin Hawkins, “Skate” — Grade: B+ | Onstage, Kevin was a pastel-hued bundle of energy who was utterly determined to show us a good time. At least he managed to show us a pretty one good time. His number, however, didn’t necessarily highlight the pristine beauty of his voice, which is kind of what he’s known for, right? Maybe I’ll be wrong, and viewers will be delighted that he showed another side of himself. Doubt it though.
Alyssa Witrado, “Angels Like You” — Rating: C | Oh, I like Alyssa. I really do. But she had as many pitch issues on her Miley Cyrus cover as I would if I was trying to throw a fastball in the World Series. Maybe it would have been better if she had chosen another song from her trainer. Maybe not. Gwen marveled that her Mini-me was “so in tune.” Could it be that it doesn’t mean what I always thought it meant?
Justin Aaron, “Here and Now” — Rating: A- | On his cover of Luther Vandross, the one-chair turn began by pouring out a voice as smooth as toffee drizzled with more toffee. It seemed to struggle a bit as the ballad got bigger, but blocked the landing in such a hard-hitting way that I suspected no one would remember any questionable spots. Gwen exclaimed that Justin’s rendition “was beyond my dream” of how it would sound.
Morgan Myles, “Let It Fly” – Grade: B+ | Ha-smart of Morgan for playing guitar during her performance after “Holy shit, does she have hand spasms?” moment. The move greatly reduced the gesticulation and allowed us to focus on her cover of Patty Griffin, which was mostly beautiful. “Your presentation was perfect,” Blake applauded. Mm, I would say, 85% perfect, but who am I to argue with Blake Shelton?
Eric Who, “The Rumor Has It” — Rating: B | After Camila told us that Eric had the same instincts as Lady Gaga and Beyonce, he strutted onstage and proved it damn well. If the show gave out a prize for best body language, he would win it. If only Eric had the vocal abilities of Gaga or Beyonce too. He certainly has moments of awesomeness — and charisma to burn — but at the end of the day, he’s just an above-average singer who’s genuinely fun to watch.
Kate Kalvach, “You’re Still the Only One” — Rating: C- | After Kate’s performance, we found out she couldn’t hear herself in her headset, which really pissed her off. Although she tends to use so much vibrato, I don’t know how much that would have helped; her voice wavers so much it’s reminiscent of the goat Blake once used to try to recruit her. I suspect she’s toasting Tuesday.
Devix, “Sex on Fire” — Grade: B+ | Oo, from note #1, Devix had me live for their rendition of Kings of Leon. Her voice was so loud it sounded like she had hit the gym eight days a week. As he performed, he ran into trouble with his high notes, and the arrangement never really got us anywhere. But for my money, she’s the most ready-made star on Team Camila.
Bryce Leatherwood, “I’m Gonna Be Somebody” — Rating: C | On his cover of Travis Tritt, Blake’s one and only country boy sounded great…but just good. There was nothing about his performance that would have made us really sit up and take notice. That said, he’s probably a safe bet to survive the Results Show because (a) he’s country and (b) he’s basically on Team Country.
Rowan Grace, “Desperately Devoted to You” – Grade: C+ | OK, first of all, bonus points for singing Livvie. Second… oh my. Rowan needed those bonus points. Love her as I may, this performance was all over the place, zesty in some places, weirdly loud in others. It just never came together into a cohesive whole, and certainly not one that reminded us of how the 17-year-old is at her best.
Brayden Lape, “Buy Dirt” – Rating: B | The singer Rowan called “the idol of the season” delivered a beautiful, understated rendition of the Jordan Davis song that started at point A and ended at point A. It never really went anywhere , but she was perfectly pleasant throughout. No vocal “zowie” there, but the teen-idol factor looks likely to score Brayden a ticket to the Top 13.
bodie, “A Glimpse of Us” – Grade: B+ | To end the evening, Bodie, who appeared to be having Kate-esque headphone issues, had unfortunate pitch issues at the start of what should have been an intimate and powerful top-down performance. He bounced back like crazy, though, and when the song let him loose, he roared with an emotion that, combined with his innate likability, made him a sure thing to move forward.
So which singers do you think are safe to move forward and which singers do you think will go home? Vote in the polls below, then the comments section awaits your reviews.
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