Song by song grades as The Voice goes live
The live rounds begin tonight on The Voice.
We’ll hear from the members of Team Adam and Team Usher.
And here’s how it will work: Two artists advance based on fan votes.
A third contestant from each team will advance via a judges’ save.
And The Voice will be on for three nights this week, with Team Shakira and Team Blake performing tomorrow night and the Top 12 being revealed on Wednesday in a one-hour show at 8 p.m.
And Carson Daly tells us to expect stripped-down performances so we can focus on what matters most — the voice.
Amber Carrington: This young lady has been one of the biggest surprises of the season on The Voice, defeating Sasha Allen in the battle round, then Midas Whale in the knockout round. Both acts had turned four chairs in the blind auditions. She’s changing it up again, performing Rihanna’s “Stay” for the live round. Yep, and this is just the way she vanquished her previous foes, with wonderful vocals. She’s delivering another one tonight on this song. If her goal was to prove she could slow it down and just plain sing: Mission accomplished. Blake said she set the bar high. Shakira calls it beautiful. Adam reminds us that he’s the only one who turned around for Amber. Grade: A–
Sarah Simmons: This young woman from Memphis turned in one of the best knockout round performances, lending the perfect blend of tenderness and grit when she sang “Wild Horses.” Little wonder all four coaches turned for her blind audition. But she’s on the most talented team heading into the live round, so best to take nothing for granted. She’ll sing “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan. She says she’ll sing remembering a good friend who died in a tragic crash. Well, that was certainly a passionate performance. And except for one high note that went a little haywire early in the performance, it was pretty much spot on vocally. Sarah was particularly strong on the second half of the song. That said, I didn’t like it as much as “Wild Horses.” Blake looks to his team and says: “Do that.” Shakira calls it “incredible.” Grade: B
Caroline Glaser: Really like the sound of this singer-songwriter, but she doesn’t have quite the vocal fireworks of the other singers on Adam’s team. Caroline clearly realizes that, too. In fact, she says it’s one of the things she worries about. She’ll sing “The A Team.” Sweet performance. But I almost wish she had performed even a more stripped-down version of something. Adam was right, the song lacked that vocal “moment.” Blake calls the performance soothing. Usher says the dimples should bring in some votes. Adam says “big and dramatic” doesn’t always matter, that being unique helps too. And he says she’s one of the more unique sounding people in the competition. I’d like to see her get another chance to wow us. But I’m not sure it will happen since she’s on Team Adam. Grade: B–
Judith Hill: Her version of “You’re Always On My Mind” was probably the best vocal we’ve heard this season on The Voice. Plus, it’s her birthday. So there’s probably no denying Judith a spot in the next round. They even juggled the performance order so she can close the show. She’ll sing “Feeling Good.” What happened to the more original song choices, Voice? A cappella opening. Only for the brave. But she can pull it off, can’t she? Wow. I didn’t love everything about the arrangement, but I loved that vocal. Pretty darn amazing. I think we should now retire that song from singing shows. Loved the performance, too. Especially the way she set up that fabulous ending. Grade: A
Josiah Hawley: the guy from Fort Smith, Ark., has the look of a star, but I wasn’t a big fan of his knockout round performance of “Back to Black.” Usher has him singing Muse’s “Starlight.” Josiah says his aim is pop-rock with a touch of soul. Hold it, I thought these were supposed to be stripped down performances. This hardly seems stripped down. I would have preferred that it was, because Josiah’s voice tends to get lost in the background music. Hmm, pretty sure that won’t rank among the top half of the vocal performances tonight. Shakira calls it his best performance so far. Blake called it haunting and energetic and suggests America might lose a male model as a result. Grade: C+
Cathia: Gotta admit, I was a little surprised when Usher advanced Cathia over Ryan Innes in the knockout round. Cathia was surprisingly good that night, Ryan didn’t quite live up to his potential. She’s given “I Who Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston. Not exactly a novel song choice for one of these competitions. Well, it is going to give Cathia a chance to show off her big voice. OK, I understand Usher’s choice a little more now. Cathia’s voice soared over the second half of that song. That said, I’m pretty certain I’ve seen that song done better before. I’m not sure she was as emotionally invested in her performance as, for instance, Sarah Simmons was. Grade: B–
Vedo: He’s the guy who’s mom died of cancer between his blind audition and the battle round. He dedicated his last performance, “(Everything I do) I Do It for You” to her. He’ll perform “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins. Very odd song choice for this R&B artist. Usher says he knows Vedo can dance. He wants to see if he can just stand and deliver a spectacular vocal. Hmm. That strategy might backfire. Vedo struggled some early in the song; the end seemed way over-baked. Pretty sure that performance didn’t accomplish what Usher wanted. Adam says he did an amazing job. Usher says he was 100 percent pleased with his performance. Grade: C
Michelle Chamuel: She sang Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” during the knockout round and didn’t seem one little bit nerdy. In fact, I ranked her as the best on Team Usher. She has very interesting pre-show music, too. Hopefully, Usher won’t saddle her with an overdone classic. Hmm. “True Colors.” That said, this should be a better match of singer and song than Vedo’s. There were a couple of odd moments with the arrangement, like when the chorus chimed in just momentarily. But that was a very sensitive, really nice performance by Michelle. Adam calls it a break-out moment for Michelle. Blake says his team should imitate that type of performance as well. The best of the night from Team Usher. Grade: B