Song by song grades as The Voice goes live, Night 2
So, those iTunes results from last night’s show were very interesting, right?
I mean, based on the fact that they finished 1-2 on iTunes, you have to figure James Wolpert and Tessanne Chin will advance on Team Adam.
Which could leave Adam with a tough decision: Save Preston Pohl or Will Champlin?
And how about over on Team Blake? The trio of Austin Jenckes, Ray Boudreaux and Cole Vosbury finished one-two-three on the rock chart when voting ended.
Does that spell the end of the road for Blake’s only true country singer, Shelbie Z.?
We won’t get the answers to those questions until Thursday night.
But, in the meantime, we get to hear from the singers on Team Cee Lo and Team Christina.
TEAM CEE LOAmber Nicole, 17, of Houston, Texas: Amber admits she was a little surprised to be pitted against 33-year-old Josh Logan in the knockout round. “We’re like apples and oranges, but it turned out for the best.” That’s because even though Josh was pronounced the winner by Christina Aguilera, Amber was stolen by Cee Lo. We didn’t see Amber’s blind audition, but her past two performances have been impressive. A version of “Momma Knows Best” by Jessie J. earned her the steal in the knockout round.
Huh? Cee Lo steals Amber then saddles her with a country song? She’ll be doing Season 3 winner Cassadee Pope’s “Wasting All These Tears,” which her new coach says he gave her because he knows “she can do anything.” But since she’s already the underdog, wouldn’t something more along the R&B/pop line make more sense? Amber’s taking the right attitude to the challenge, saying she’s hoping to show her versatility. But that was a bit of a rough opening. And it sounds like she’s straining a bit on the first run-through of that chorus. And the big glory note she was going for sounded more like screaming than singing. That said, there were moments during the performance, when Amber’s potential shined through. This was simply not a good match of singer and song, and I can’t imagine Amber will survive to try again. Grade: C–Jonny, 29, of Austin, Texas: The Air Force veteran says he’s watched shows like The Voice “for a long time and to be able to be one of the people fans are voting for is so cool.” That would also be a good word to describe the on-stage persona Jonny has displayed in establishing himself as perhaps the best male rocker in Season 5. But his most memorable Voice moment so far has nothing to do with performing, he says in his Top 20 video. It was getting to tell Adam Levine how much he likes a Maroon 5 cover of The Beatles, “If I Fail.”
Jonny will take on “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve. Jonny’s hoping to bring raw emotion to the performance, and Cee Lo says a key will be whether he can connect with the audience through the song. I really like Jonny’s tone, but this song really didn’t offer him many opportunities for vocal moments, or else he didn’t find them. The performance did pick up over the last 30 seconds or so, as he left the stage and walked out toward the audience. All in all, solid. But he’s performing second on a two-hour show, so you have to hope solid will be solid enough. Adam and Christina say essentially the same thing. They most enjoyed the last part, when Jonny let his vocals soar a bit. Grade: B–Tamara Chauniece, 23, of Wharton, Texas: The former gospel singer admits she hadn’t sang on a stage in about four years before her blind audition. Remember, she’s giving singing another chance after taking a job as an apartment complex leasing agent. After that audition, she said she feels “like I can conquer anything.” In the past two rounds, she had been declared the winner over Keaira LaShae and Stephanie Anne Johnson, who was then stolen. A fine performance of Nora Jones’ “I Don’t Know Why” earned her the spot in the live round.
Another … hmm, shall we call it interesting, song choice. One look at iTunes will tell you unique song choices are rewarded on The Voice. Cee Lo is giving Tamara the oft-done “I Will Survive.” But Tamara seems to be embracing the challenge, calling it “a go hard or go home song.” Cee Lo said the song offered up a mouthful of lyrics, and Tamara seems to be struggling with that a bit. The whole thing seems just a bit rushed. But Tamara found a couple of opportunities for great glory notes, and there’s no doubt she has a big voice. Adam calls it her best performance. Not sure I agree. Grade: C+Kat Robichaud, 29, of Raleigh, N.C.: Kat says she’s been in the music business for 10 years and has heard no lots of times. On The Voice, she’s heard nothing but yes thanks to a string of strong vocal and stage performances. She takes pride in that Cee Lo Green calls her stage persona “controlled chaos,” Kat says in her Top 20 video. Of the live shows: “I hope there are feathers and pyrotechnics and just diamonds in the teeth and crazy get-ups. I can’t wait.” A knockout round rendition of “You Oughta Know” earned her a spot in the Top 20.
Well, Kat wanted to do something more current and something softer, and she’s going for both with Mary Lambert’s “She Keeps Me Warm.” Cee Lo says he thinks it’s a song that will show off Kat’s range. She seems to be changing it to “You Keep Me Warm” to better reflect her relationship with her husband. The bad news: The first half of that performance was the first time Kat hasn’t sounded fabulous. A couple times, her voice seemed to disappear under the background music. The good news: The second half of that performance was superb and showed what a big voice and what great range Kat has, and why she needs to advance. That said, I prefer rocker Kat. Grade: B
Caroline Pennell, 17, of Saddle River, N.J.: The teen has clearly struck a chord with fans who download music from The Voice. Last week’s performance of “The Way I Am” was the show’s second most popular on iTunes and her previous performance of “As Long as You Love Me” is still in the site’s top 70 on the pop chart. Caroline says the battle and knockout rounds were both fun and awful — awful because they force singers to go up against friends with the likelihood that one is going home.
Caroline will sing The White Stripes’ “We’re Going To Be Friends.” Cee Lo says it’s “the sweetest little song anyone could sing” and is perfect for the teen, who he’s hoping can “charm” America. Now this was a good song choice, the type that is worth iTunes gold on The Voice. It helps that Caroline is doing it very, very well. Hmm, and it appears she’s going for a more sophisticated look tonight. Well, that wasn’t filled with vocal pyrotechnics, but I’m predicting it’ll be the iTunes smash from Team Cee Lo tomorrow morning. It was also the most consistent vocal performance. Adam calls the performance “beautiful.” And Blake calls her “mesmerizing.” Grade: B+
Who makes the Top 12? After those performances, my opinion is unchanged. The Team Cee Lo reps on the Top 12 should be Kat, Jonny and Caroline. And Caroline just might wind up being the most popular of the three.
TEAM CHRISTINAJosh Logan, 33, of Manchester, N.H.: This week will tell a lot, because viewers get to share their input for the first time, Josh says in his Top 20 video. “That’s where the real truth is — if people want to buy the music you’re performing,” Josh says. “I’m interested to see how I do with that.” So far, Josh has done just fine, turning three chairs in his blind audition, then advancing to the live rounds with a version of Stevie Wonder’s “Living in the City.”
Christina is giving Josh “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley (aka part Cee Lo Green). OK, it’s a good thing I know the lyrics, because after the first two lines, Josh mumbled two or three so much I could barely make out a word. He is sorta growling a lot. A couple of times he got to show off his vocal range. But, like with “Bittersweet Symphony,” I’m not sure the song offered him the chance to deliver the moment he needed considering that he’s singing first, and so very dynamic singers will be following him to the stage. Probably my least favorite Josh performance to date. Grade: COlivia Henken, 25, of Louisville, Ken.: There are only two female country singers on the show, and the fact that Shelbie Z.’s song from Monday didn’t exactly set iTunes on fire might work in Olivia’s favor if she can do better tonight. Voice voters certainly haven’t shown a reluctance to support gals who sing country in the past. Pop-country has been Olivia’s forte, with performances of “Two Black Cadillacs,” “Done” and “You’re No Good” getting her to this point.
I wondered what Olivia meant when she said Christina has taught her there are genres other than country, seeing as how everything Olivia has performed to this point has been pretty darn country. Now I know. Tonight, she’ll be singing Katy Perry’s new single, “Roar.” Hmm. Christina says she’s talented enough to pull it off. Gotta admit, I’d pretty much written off Olivia, but she lived up to the song’s title, letting her voice roar for most of that performance. Wise choice, getting to the chorus quickly and pretty much staying there. I certainly liked pop on Olivia more than I liked country on Amber Nicole. Even Blake says he’s surprised how well a country voice worked on that song. Grade: B–Stephanie Anne Johnson, 29, of Tacoma, Wash.: Twice-stolen, Stephanie finds herself entering the battle round back where she started, with Team Christina. She’s survived the battle and knockout rounds despite losing both matches, but was much more in her element last week singing “Black Horse and a Cherry Tree” than in the battle round, when she was saddled with the pop-country tune “Done.” “I would prefer to make music I feel strongly about, that people can live with and connect with,” Stephanie says in her Top 20 video.
OK, we’re back to old oft-done standards. Christina will have Stephanie Anne sing “Georgia On My Mind.” Stephanie Anne is promising to make it fresh. She’s giving us a bluesy rendition, which worked very well in the opening. But it lost its appeal to me for a while in the middle there. That is until Stephanie Anne let loose with that big voice of hers for the last 30 seconds or so. This is getting interesting. We’re three songs in, and my thoughts of what was going to happen with Christina’s team tonight are getting a wee bit jumbled. Grade: BMatthew Schuler, 20, of Yardley, Pa.: His version of “Cosmic Love” was easily one of the best on the show so far in Season 5 and will be tough to top for a guy who says that’s his goal each week — to do better than his previous performance. “I want to break barriers with my music. I want to take chances, take risks and do something new,” he says in his Top 20 video. I’m not sure all that will be necessary this week. It would take a major stumble for him not to make the Top 12.
Another contestant who’s changed his look a bit since the taped episodes. Christina has him singing another current pop tune — Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.” Well, if Matthew wasn’t a lock to make the Top 12 before tonight, he sure is now. Because he just delivered the best performance of the night. Dang. I liked that a whole lot more than the original. I was a bit worried at the opening, but Matthew’s conviction to what he was singing drew me in. And, dang, that glory note. We got that plus vulnerable Matthew all in the same performance. Dang again. Great line from Carson: “It looks like a wrecking ball hit the other coaches.” Grade: A–Jacquie Lee, 16, Colt’s Neck, N.J.: She’s the youngest singer in the competition and has been one of the most surprising, unleashing a surprisingly big voice and showing a stage presence beyond her years every time she has performed. “My rehearsals with Christina, I don’t believe that they actually happened,” Jacquie Lee says in her Top 20 video. “I’m 16 and I just got off the stage with someone I’ve been listening to and watching on TV for my whole life, literally.”
Hold it, this means they are putting the show’s youngest contestant on stage to close the show, and to try to top that. OK, let’s see how this goes. Jacquie Lee has been great to date, but this is a tall order. She’ll be singing “I Put a Spell on You.” Whoa! Go, Jacquie Lee. Are you kidding me? Last week, it took Jacquie Lee about half the song to unleash her dynamite vocals. This week, we got dynamite from the word go. And she just kept getting stronger. And she’s working the stage to boot. How can the giggling teen we just heard in rehearsal take the stage and do that? At 16? Cee Lo calls it “the absolute best.” And that about sums it up. The best of the night, for sure. I just had to go back and downgrade Matthew slightly as a result. Which is pretty crazy considering how good he was. Wow. Watch out for Team Christina. Grade: A
For Team Christina, Matthew and Jacquie Lee certainly should have just nailed down spots in the Top 12. I thought Josh was the favorite for the third spot going in; he was probably the weakest tonight, which might open the door for one of the other ladies.