Grading the Top 12 on The Voice
The Top 12 take the stage tonight on The Voice.
And the only thing that matters, as Carson Daly tells us, is viewers’ votes.
The lowest two vote-getters go home tomorrow night, regardless of what team they are on.
And The Voice is having some trouble in Season 4.
First, the online and text voting went haywire last week.
Now the air conditioning has gone off in The Voice studio in the middle of a heatwave.
But the show must go on, and the performances begin.
1. Vedo (Team Usher): Uh-oh, Vedo is in trouble. Usher has one of the weakest teams and now Vedo has to open a two-hour show with another tired-old classic, “Rock With You.” He hasn’t been given anything resembling a current song to sing yet. And, after a so-so opening, he seemed to lose a few words as he headed down The Voice staircase. He is doing a good job of working the stage, even though he’s wearing a leather jacket in all that heat. And he busts a couple of moves on the dance floor, too. He tried to add a little flair to that song, but there was only so much he could do. And my guess is that’s going to be very forgettable compared to what’s to come. Grade: C
2. Holly Tucker (Team Blake): Holly is one of three artists vying for the country vote on Team Blake, and Team Adam has a pretty fair country artist of its own in the form of Amber Carrington. They might all survive tonight, but a couple are likely to get knocked off in the middle rounds at least. Holly will sing Martina McBride’s “Broken Wing.” Immediately, I like this better than Vedo’s song. Wow, and Holly sure demonstrated how big her voice is on that, didn’t she? I might have preferred a little less in terms of vocal gymnastics and a little bit more emotion, but it’s tough to quibble too much with a vocal like that. Usher, Shakira and Adam all praise that performance. Grade: B+
3. Garrett Gardner (Team Shakira): He got Shakira’s save last week after performing “Imagine” on the piano. He’s the youngest guy on the show, and we’re promised a surprising song choice. OK, and that choice will be “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys. He’ll do a rock version, guitar in hand. Hey, he’s off to a strong start. Hey, Garrett is making the straight song choice work. And, by the way, this guy seems to be growing more confident by the week. Call me impressed. Very good. Adam wasn’t a big fan. Neither was Usher. Shakira predicts the iTunes chart will prove lots of folks loved that version of the song. Grade: B
4. Sarah Simmons (Team Adam): The music student from Memphis got a last-second save from Adam last week. She says she considers herself an alternative artist. She’s singing “The Story” by Brandi Carlile. This could be very, very good. Sarah had a little stumble out of the gate, but recovers well. Sarah’s secret is her combination of grit and tenderness, and it was on display again tonight. She went full throttle for about 30 seconds, then came back down to a very sensitive ending. Blake calls it an incredible job. Adam calls her one of the best singers on the show. Grade: B+
5. The Swon Brothers (Team Adam): Wow, after hearing Holly and Sarah, I’m wondering about my decision to rank The Swon Brothers ahead of them. Zach and Colton needed a save to survive last week. They’ll sing “Who’s Going to Fill Their Shoes” by the late George Jones. And it’ll be a stripped down version of the song. And The Swon Brothers delivered a very nice tribute. And they delivered pretty well vocally on a show filled with tremendous vocalists. Usher and Adam thought so, too. And, of course, Blake was a fan. I still like Zach and Colton better when they’re doing upbeat material. Grade: B–
6. Sasha Allen (Team Shakira): This mom of two brings one of the absolute best voices on the show. And Shakira is serving up Heart’s “Alone” and advises the former Broadway star not to go too Broadway on this performance. Wow, Sasha delivers an impassioned version of that song. I mean, her voice just pierces through everything. That was another remarkable performance by Sasha. But if she scaled back on the theatrics … well, that was pretty dramatic. Usher says Sasha took us to church. Shakira’s response: “And it was heavenly.” Yeah, and the other coaches are still laughing at Adam for cutting her earlier in the season. Grade: A
7. Josiah Hawley (Team Usher): The guy who needed Usher’s save last week will sing a stripped-down song this week, performing “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” by the Script. Interesting, last week, when the theme of the show was stripped-down performances, Josiah performed with a full band. Not sure this was the best choice given some of the incredible vocalists on this show. And following Sasha Allen to the stage isn’t the most enviable position to be in. Adam says that’s the best Josiah has sounded. Blake agrees. Usher begs for votes. I’m not sure that vocal will stand out considering what else we’re going to hear tonight. Grade: C
8. Danielle Bradbery (Team Adam): This young lady — the youngest contestant on the show — had the best-performing single from last week’s live playoffs. She says she wants to be a pop-country artist, and Blake serves us a pop-country song, Carrie Underwood’s “Wasted.” Danielle almost looks like a young Carrie Underwood. And her vocals are flawless. She just has an incredibly sweet country voice. And she’s one heck of a find on the part of The Voice. Not to mention so cool on stage at just 16 that Shakira calls her a mini Margaret Thatcher. Adam calls Danielle the favorite on the show, which is pretty darn high praise. He’s not going to get an argument from Blake. Grade: A–
9. Judith Hill (Team Adam): Interesting coaching session with Adam, who wants Judith to make sure she connects. That’s the key for this incredible singer, whose single didn’t do very well in terms of downloads last week despite an immaculate vocal. She’s going to sing “You’ve Got a Friend,” playing piano, with no accompanying musicians. Folks, we are hearing some incredible vocals tonight. Judith just served up another. That was filled with frills — perhaps a touch too many for some folks — but she pulled off every single one. Adam calls her “perhaps the most talented human being in this competition.” I’m going to be very interested to see how that does on iTunes tomorrow morning. Grade: A–
10. Michelle Chamuel (Team Usher): This young woman is Usher’s best hope. She says she wants to be an electro-pop artist. Usher has her singing “Call Your Girlfriend.” This is not going to be the same type of performance we saw from Michelle last week with “True Colors.” And the vocal starts off a little weak, actually. But Michelle, who always says she struggles with stage fright, always manages to look comfortable performing. Unfortunately, on a night of standout vocals, that one did not stand out. That said, I imagine Michelle will survive to sing for at least another round. Grade: C+
11. Kris Thomas (Team Shakira): Kris is one of only two male vocalists to be voted into this round. Shakira has given him “I’ll Be There.” Yuk. But the guy’s got a very good voice, so perhaps he can pull it off. He starts off in a key I doubt very many guys can hit, but he also hits a heck of a clunker note early in this performance. He winds up turning in a decent vocal that brings Shakira to her feet, but no one else. Usher didn’t sound thrilled with the performance. Neither was I. On a night with all sorts of vocal fireworks, that was a little sleepy. Grade: C+
12. Amber Carrington (Team Adam): This young woman is the reason Sasha Allen is no longer a member of Team Adam. She defeated Sasha in the battle round and has continued to impress every time she’s taken the stage. Tonight, she gets her reward, the honor of closing the show. She’s chosen “I’m Going to Love You Through It,” and she’s dedicating it to her mom, who passed away from cancer. Yep, there are some very good country singers on this show in Season 4. Amber turns in another solid performance. No fear she’ll go home after that. She shows off a very big voice on a song that clearly means a lot to her. Grade: B
Remember, voting closes at 10 a.m. Tuesday. And any single that lands in the Top 10 on iTunes earns bonus points — 10 times the number of downloads — for the singer.