Season 3, The Live Finals, The Voice

Song by song grades for the Top 6 on The Voice

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The Top 6 on The Voice will get a chance to flex their versatility tonight.

That’s because each singer will perform twice — one song chosen by their mentor, one song of their own choosing.

And judging from what the singers told Christina Milian in interviews you can find on The Voice website, we could be in for some surprises.

Nicholas David says one of his performances will be a departure from what he’s been doing on the show. Cassadee Pope says Blake has picked a country song for her to sing.

Of course, expect a big ballad from Trevin, one he admits he’s found quite challenging.

For a sneak peak at what the contestants are saying — or in some cases, not saying — about tonight, head here. For the latest rankings of the remaining contestants, head here.

Meanwhile, as always, I’ll be live blogging throughout the show with song-by-song grades.

Blue must be the theme color of the night. Cassadee has donned blue hair extensions; Melanie has switched her hair from blond and black to blue and black.

What, no blue Nicholas?

Nicholas David, song 1: Cee Lo’s pick for Nicholas is “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire. This falls right in Nicholas’ comfort zone, a classic hit with a touch of soul. Nicholas seems to be doing a better job of keeping the manic expressions under control, and of keeping his eyes open while he’s performing. Vocally, he’s doing fine. But, given this cast, my guess is that this isn’t the performance we’ll remember at the end of the night. Both Adam and Cee Lo are criticizing Nicholas for shying away from a challenging chorus. Grade: C+

Nicholas David, song 2: He’s decided to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” saying it’s his mom’s favorite song. And he’s going to change it up. Risky, messing with such a classic. There are parts of this that I’m liking better than I expected. Especially that very nice ending. But all in all, I’m not ranking that among the performances I’d download from tonight’s show. Interesting. But something short of Blake’s declaration of magical. Grade: B-

Cassadee Pope, song 1: She teased this in her interview with Christina Milian; Blake is asking her to sing Rascal Flatt’s “Stand.” Cassadee says she plans to take a pop-rock approach to the song, but she’s a little worried about finding a place to make her vocals shine. Mission 1: Accomplished. Dang, I really wouldn’t know this was a country song the way she’s performing it. Mission 2: Accomplished. She sure found spots in the song to flash her vocals, didn’t she? No worries about that at all. Really, really solid performance. Grade: A-

Cassadee Pope, song 2: She’s going to sing “I’m With You” by Avril Lavigne. Cassadee says this is one of her all-time favorite songs. So, I wasn’t thinking I was going to love this performance. A couple of lines in, I’m thinking, OK, this is going to wind up somewhere in the middle of the pack. But Cassadee is showing an incredible knack for connecting with these songs, conveying that connection and delivering a big ending that goes way beyond a big glory note or two. Tonight, I think she’s solidified her status as the favorite to win this thing. Grade: A-

Amanda Brown, song 1: She’ll tackle Aretha Franklin’s “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.” Speaking of standout vocals, here comes Amanda. Adam has every right to feel confident when she takes the stage because she might be the best pure singer still on the show. That was another standout vocal. Not as original as Cassadee’s performance, but certainly another indication that she belongs among the final four in this competition. Oh, and it was complete with another of those wonderful Amanda wails. Grade: B+

Amanda Brown, song 2: She’s going classic rock, too, singing “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake. Adam says he wants to show Amanda’s ability to sing anything. If it works, this is a really smart song choice on his part. Check out the outfit Amanda is wearing. OK, I could have done without all the dancers distracting me from what matters, which is Amanda delivering another fired-up vocal. That wail is becoming her signature statement, isn’t it? Hey, folks, I’d buy an Amanda Brown rock album. No question about that. Not “Dream On” magical, but another solid performance. Grade: B+

Terry McDermott, song 1: This is Terry’s choice, “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner. Interesting choice. And Blake wants him to strip it down to just the piano to showcase Terry’s vocals. Terry is doing a really nice job on the chorus of this song. It seems perfectly suited to his voice. But he might be pushing a little too hard on the verses, instead of going tender. Those verses seemed to go a little sharp on a couple of occasions. And look at that, Terry delivers his own wail at the end of the song. Grade: B

Terry McDermott, song 2: He’s going to sing the Rod Stewart classic, “Stay With Me.” It’s Blake’s choice, a song he says wife Miranda plays live, always to a great reception. This is Terry back in the classic rock element, but this isn’t doing it for me. Perhaps I’m too used to the Rod Stewart version. But heck, I’d rather hear Miranda sing it than listen to that again. Just so-so. On a night when there have been some really original performances, that one wasn’t. Grade: C

Trevin Hunte, song 1: Cee Lo has decided to give Trevin “Walking on Sunshine,” an upbeat song. Interesting selection, since the last upbeat number nearly sank Trevin. But, really, if he’s going to win this thing, he needs to show some versatility. Trevin is turning in an adequate vocal, but he just doesn’t look as natural when he takes on a song like this as Amanda and Cassadee do when they rock out. The problem, of course, is that that song really didn’t give Trevin’s talent a chance to shine. There was one big glory note at the end. Otherwise, the Trevin flash was absent. Grade: C+

Trevin Hunte, song 2: Here comes the big ballad. He’s going to sing “I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” by Jennifer Hudson. This is the song that has him concerned about whether he’ll be able to pull it off. Trevin says there’s a statement in the song — that he doesn’t plan to go home from The Voice. One great thing about this song is it gives Trevin a chance to show off his vocals throughout, not just in a big flourish at the end. Oh, yeah, Trevin slayed that beast. No reason to be worried. It was a big ballad, and that’s what this guy does best. That wasn’t my favorite performance of the night, but it was the best vocal. And it will make people forget the so-so first song. Grade: A-

Melanie Martinez, song 1: She’s going to sing “Crazy,” and she’s going to change it up. Oh, she also notes someone as young as she hasn’t made the top 4 yet on The Voice. She might only be 17, but she’s musically wise well beyond that. She scores major points for originality on that one. It might not have been my favorite Melanie vocal. But she’s gained lots of momentum over the past couple of weeks, and my guess is that performance is going to strike a chord with those fans. Grade: B-

Melanie Martinez, song 2: Adam wants to have Melanie show her lighter side, so he’s picked “The Show” for her. Another really smart song choice for Melanie. She started off brilliantly, then stumbled a bit, then rediscovered her groove. She was especially effective on the ending. And, Adam’s right, if the song doesn’t rank among the most serious we’ve heard tonight, it’s certainly fitting to Melanie’s experience on the show. And it made me smile. Gotta say, I’m sorta rooting for Melanie to survive this week. She might be the most original artist on the show. Grade: B

Performances in order of preference:

Cassadee Pope: “Stand”
Cassadee Pope: “I’m With You”
Trevin Hunte: “I’m Telling You I’m Not Going”
Amanda Brown: “Here I Go Again”
Amanda Brown: “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman”
Melanie Martinez: “The Show”
Terry McDermott: “I Want to Know What Love Is”
Melanie Martinez: “Crazy”
Nicholas David: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
Nicholas David: “September”
Trevin Hunte: “Walking on Sunshine”
Terry McDermott: “Stay With Me”

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