Grading the Top 10 on The Voice
The Top 10 take the stage tonight on The Voice, with the top eight vote-getters advancing to next week’s show.
Will teen Dannielle Bradbery add to her streak of impressive performances?
Can Josiah Hawley turn in another crowd-pleaser? And how about the Swon Brothers?
Before we get down to all of that, I’ve gotta say I’m bummed to find out Shakira won’t be back for Season 5 in the fall.
The Voice is returning to its original cast of judges, with Cee Lo Green and Christina Augilera returning to work alongside Blake Shelton and Adam Levine.
Now their chemistry dances rings around anything we saw at the American Idol judging panel this year.
But Shakira has proven delightfully endearing, a breath of fresh air for those who prefer singing show judges who don’t act like divas with a capital D.
Makes you wonder how Idol wound up with Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, and how The X Factor landed Demi Lovato and Britney Spears, while The Voice landed the best of the bunch.
Besides, Shakira’s toned-down wardrobe doesn’t make it quite so obvious when The Voice judges are wearing the same clothes for a month’s worth of episodes. Remember the flying saucer Christina wore on her head for weeks on end?
Oh, well, on with the singing …
Holly Tucker (Team Blake): Not sure this is good news for Holly. She’s one of at least four country acts on the show, and she has to perform first tonight. As I wrote in my ranking blog, there are only so many country votes to go around. Holly will sing “How Great Thou Art.” Or maybe this won’t spell trouble for Holly, because she’s pulled out a gospel classic and she’s delivering another very good vocal. No way she should go home off a performance like that. If I had one complaint, it’s that I would have liked to see a more stripped down arrangement for the song. Shakira calls the performance “heavenly.” Grade: B+
Judith Hill (Team Adam): The former background singer for Michael Jackson will sing a Michael song, “The Way You Make Me Feel.” Adam says it’s time for her to do something fun and upbeat. Judith makes it clear she doesn’t want anyone to think she’s taking advantage of her past connection to Michael. In fact, the song choice has her in tears. She’s bringing an original arrangement to the song, one that shows off her versatility, but that might not result in tons and tons of downloads. It’ll be interesting to see how that is received between now and 10 a.m. tomorrow. The crowd at The Voice studio sure seemed to love it. A week ago, a tribute song worked very well for The Swon Brothers. Grade: B
The Swon Brothers (Team Adam): Speaking of which, The Swon Brothers are coming off a big week after their version of George Jones’ “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes.” This week, they’ll go in the opposite direction with the country rocker, “How Country Feels.” I have a feeling a Swon Brothers concert would feature more music along this line than the ballad we heard last week. I really like these guys, but I’m also wondering how this is going to stand up against some of the wonderful solo vocals we’re likely to hear over the course of the evening. Shakira says the Swon Brothers have a knack for lightening her mood; Adam calls them lots of fun. Grade: B–
Amber Carrington (Team Adam): Another of the country singers on The Voice, one thing I like about Amber is her willingness to tackle a wide range of material. Tonight, she’s taking on Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway,” anything but a country song. And it doesn’t sound like Amber is having any trouble connecting with the lyrics of the song. Well, I really liked the concept and the song choice, and Amber looked fabulous, even when the wind machine threatened to screw up her hair. But except for one very big line, that didn’t quite live up to the Kelly Clarkson version. I’m used to hearing Kelly’s voice absolutely soar on that song. Grade: B–
Sasha Allen (Team Shakira): The mother of two wound up as one of the last singers standing to learn her fate last week, but I refuse to believe she was among the bottom three vote-getters. Shakira has decided to give her a more current song to sing this week, Emile Sande’s “Next To Me.” Yep, this marks the third time the song has been performed on a singing show in the last three weeks or so. Nevertheless, Sasha does a very nice job vocally, still showing off her incredible range. She has her coach rocking out the entire time. I’m a little surprised Sasha hasn’t registered better with music lovers to date. Perhaps that will be the song that does the trick. Grade: B+
Josiah Hawley (Team Usher): A stripped down performance worked really well for Josiah last week. This week, Usher is giving him “Clocks” by Coldplay. Hey, really nice opening by Josiah, whose voice sometimes gets lost in the background music. Oops, might have spoken (written) too soon. Because that’s exactly what happened to Josiah as the music swelled. Shakira calls it a great attempt. Adam calls it a good performance. Translation: The reviews are lukewarm. And for good reason. That didn’t match last week’s effort from Josiah. Grade: C+
Danielle Bradbery (Team Adam): Danielle has a chance to steal the show tonight, because we’ve seen lots of really solid, but no really brilliant performances yet. She’s going to sing “Heads Carolina, Tails California.” This young lady is absolutely fearless. Not to mention, pitch perfect every time she steps on the stage. Doesn’t seem to matter what Blake throws at her, she steps on stage and performs it like she’s been doing it for years and years and years. Fantastic job. The best so far tonight. She looks perfectly comfortable from start to finish. Grade: A
Kris Thomas (Team Shakira): We’re promised a different side of Kris, which would be welcome because I wasn’t a big fan of last week’s “I’ll Be There.” Shakira is giving him Kris Miguel’s “Adorn.” Kris is giving us the swagger guest mentor Cee Lo Green asked for. Shame he’s not delivering a better vocal. We’re seeing glimpses of his range, but this is quickly becoming my least favorite performance of the night. Looks like The Voice is going to be a repeat of Idol, where the female talent far exceeded the male talent. Adam says it seems like Kris still isn’t totally comfortable on stage. Usher calls Kris’ voice incredible, but says he could have picked a better song. Grade: C
Sarah Simmons (Team Adam): And Sarah reveals another side of herself; she says she used to rock out with a band when she was in high school. So she’s decided to rock out this week, by singing Jessie J.’s “Mamma Knows Best.” This from the gal who has fed us a steady steam of ballads to this point. Sarah starts off brilliantly, but once again, The Voice sound mix is letting her down. As big as her voice is, she’s being drowned out by a horn section with its volume pushed to max. Brilliant final note for Sarah, but that came off as something of a scream-fest. Powerful, for sure, but not my favorite Sarah performance. I’d be willing to bet the download mix of that would sound much, much better. Blake calls the performance “sexy.” Adam is fanning himself. Grade: B
Michelle Chamuel (Team Usher): “True Colors” went over very well for Michelle. Now Usher is giving her another emotionally-driven song along the same lines, “Just Give Me a Reason” by Pink. Nice song choice. Let’s see what she does with it. Very vulnerable opening. Wow, look at Michelle show off her range. That is not an easy song to sing, but she pulled it off. Very, very nice performance from Michelle. Certainly worthy of closing the show. Blake said he loves how dramatic Michelle is on stage. Usher calls Michelle’s performance the best of the night. Close. Very close. But I’d have to give that nod to Danielle. Second best? I’d buy that, which is still awfully good given the quality of this cast. Grade: A–