Season 5, The Voice

Ranking the Top 6 on The Voice

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Perhaps they should call it the “temporary save” instead of the “instant save” on The Voice.

Kat Robichaud got the first instant save. A week later, she was gone.

Tessanne Chin performs on the Top 8 elimination show for The Voice. (NBC Photo)

Tessanne Chin performs on the Top 8 elimination show for The Voice. (NBC Photo)

Caroline Pennell got the second instant save. A week later, she was gone, too.

Will the same fate befall Matthew Schuler, the most recent save recipient, on Top 6 elimination night?

My guess is that it won’t. But Matthew’s stumble on Top 8 night suddenly makes the chase for the Season 5 title on The Voice seem a whole lot more interesting, doesn’t it?

During Top 6 night this spring, this was a single-elimination week on The Voice, allowing five contestants to advance to the semifinals.

And, if we’re lucky, The Voice will follow that Season 4 format and have each contestant perform twice on Monday, sparing us from those sometimes ill-suited group numbers.

This week’s rankings, with last week’s in parenthesis.

1. Tessanne Chin (Team Adam) (2): Most of the singers I consider front-runners on The Voice have had an off week. The exception: Tessanne, who’s been pretty darn flawless vocally every week since the live shows began. I wasn’t a huge fan of Adam’s song choice (“Underneath It All”) for Tessanne on Top 8 week, but there was nothing wrong with her performance. What she needs now is that breakout moment that makes people take notice. She includes Beyonce, Pink and Tina Turner among her influences. Certainly, there’s a tune in one of those songbooks that could give Tessanne a chance to showcase that huge voice of hers.

2. Jacquie Lee (Team Christina) (3): How well did Jacquie Lee do last week? Forget Matthew and “Hallelujah” — Jacquie probably delivered the best voca lperformance of Season 5. That a cappella opening was nothing short of brilliant — not to mention incredibly brave — for a 16-year-old tasked with the chore of closing the show. What Danielle Bradbery accomplished in Season 4 at age 16 with such limited experience was amazing. But the fact is that Jacquie Lee has now turned in two or three performance that would top anything we heard from Danielle in the spring. If the New Jersey teen gets to sing twice, Christina should let her belt to her heart’s content both times.

Matthew Schuler performs during last week's Top 8 show on The Voice. (NBC Photo)

Matthew Schuler performs during last week’s Top 8 show on The Voice. (NBC Photo)

3. Matthew Schuler (Team Christina) (1): Given his early run of very impressive performances, I really thought Matthew might escape the bottom three on a week in which he and Christina would have been well advised to spend more time on vocals and less on fist pumps. Instead, he finished behind five other singers in the voting, suddenly making the West Chester University student look far less invincible than he had. I’ll be shocked if Christina doesn’t slow him down for a heartfelt moment on one of his two performances Monday night. I’ll still be mildly surprised if the 20-year-old still doesn’t find himself on The Voice stage at the Dec. 16 finale.

4. James Wolpert (Team Christina) (4): OK, Adam’s claim that James proved he was capable of singing with Queen during last week’s “Somebody to Love” performance might have been a bit of an overstatement. I’ve never listened to James and thought, ‘Wow, the second coming of Adam Lambert,’ let alone Freddie Mercury. But the performance was loads of fun, as the tux-clad Lancaster lad who looks like he belongs on Glee sang about “going crazy.” If two songs are on the agenda Monday, it might work to James’ advantage. He loves to rock, but fans seem to love it more when he dials it back, like on the Joni Mitchell cover from a couple of weeks ago. With two songs, he could do both.

5. Cole Vosbury (Team Blake) (5): I really liked Cole’s version of “Let Her Go.” But for the last three weeks, I feel like I’ve been watching a different performance than the folks who are downloading Cole’s music. Two weeks ago, I rated his performance as the worst of the Top 10. “To Be With You” wound up being the most downloaded of The Voice songs on iTunes. On Top 8 night, I graded Cole’s performance as the third lowest of the night. But then “I Still Believe in You” was the second most popular on iTunes. So, I confess, I apparently don’t get Cole’s appeal. But I think he’ll be better off if Blake doesn’t steer him down a country road again this week.

6. Will Champlin (Team Adam) (8): OK, this is a wonderful example of how wide open Season 5 of The Voice is. Will had the biggest hit on iTunes last week — “At Last” even cracked the Top 10. And I’ve got him dead last in the rankings. The ranking has less to do with Will’s talent than the fact that he’s the most nondescript of the final six. Matthew has the charisma, Tessanne has the booming voice, Jacquie Lee has the youth, Cole has the beard, James has the nerd-ish look. Then there’s Will, who just takes the stage and turns in a solid vocal week after week, even though he needed three judges’ saves to get this far.

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