They’re finally here! “The Voice” kicked off its live shows Monday (April 21) and Tuesday the first person will be sent home, but the “instant save” is returning, so you can save your favorite if he or she ends up in the Bottom 3.
1. Bria Kelly, “Rolling in the Deep,” Adele (Team Usher)
I’m not wild about the song choice because Adele is so velvety and Bria is so gravelly, tone-wise. When she starts singing, that isn’t so much an issue on the verse, but she’s sharp for most of the first verse. The chorus is better in terms of pitch, but the tone then goes a little wonky. I would have preferred to hear Bria do some Alanis Morissette or some Heart from the ’70s. Can’t you just hear her slaying “Magic Man”? Anyway, not my favorite Bria performance.
Shakira slathers her with praise, but Adam Levine has the guts to at least sort of mention that it wasn’t perfect. One general issue I have with the coaches on “The Voice” is that no one is very critical of the singers. Is it because they’re competing against each other, so they’re afraid to be mean to the other coaches’ singers and look like jerks? Because I always find myself wanting the Simon Cowell or Harry Connick Jr. or (actually) Howard Stern, the judge who is willing to give it to them straight about how they did instead of just telling them how great it was. Anyway.
2. Delvin Choice, “Unchained Melody,” The Righteous Brothers (Team Adam)
This is a great choice, but Delvin has got to be careful not to get carried away with the runs. This song is so gorgeous just sung straight and emotionally raw, not as a way to just show off your vocal acrobatics — but of course, that’s not how he sings it. That’s too bad. Also, it stinks when a song like this, that has such a great build, is truncated because of the time constraints. I’m really not loving this until he pulls off the falsetto on “I need your love.” That was solid. Still, I didn’t feel the connection and he was trying to too hard to show off. This isn’t a cruise ship, fella. Dial it back a little.
3. Dani Moz, “Just Give Me a Reason,” Pink (Team Shakira)
This is the first song choice I really like, though the execution is not perfect. The verse is great — Dani is clear and pure, quietly strong. But the chorus really gets away from her. She’s off pitch at times and is missing a couple jumps here and there. Pink is an underrated technical singer, girlfriend does not mess around with her range and Dani struggles a little trying to keep up. She pulls off a big note near the end that voters will like, but I was expecting more from this.
4. Audra McLaughlin, “Angel of the Morning,” Juice Newton (Team Blake)
Nice choice, this takes her out of her country lane without throwing her completely to the wolves. Audra does a decent job to start — the changes to the melody line are pretty and she’s pushing through the low verse fairly well. But on this song, the money shot is the chorus and she nails it. She is also emoting her little heart out, good for her. This one is the best of the night so far, though I suspect the performances will keep getting stronger.
5. T.J. Wilkins, “Waiting On the World To Change,” John Mayer (Team Usher)
Terrible song choice for this show, because while it’s a perfectly fine song, it’s a little boring and not much of a vocalist’s showcase, if you’re talking about what’s good for a vocal competition. Predictably, T.J. sounds nice, but the song doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s a total snoozefest. The audience’s claps keep getting ahead of the beat like they’re trying to will the song to be more exciting, you know? Even the breakdown is boring. You can flash crazy graphics in the background all you want, show, but it’s not going to make this song have more than about five notes and one line that gets repeated 72 times.
6. Christina Grimmie, “Dark Horse,” Katy Perry (Team Adam)
So we’re halfway through and the night finally feels like it started. Honestly, Audra was solid, but nobody in the first five really blew the doors off the place and this is terrific. Christina absolutely slays it — that three-tiered note in the middle? Crazy. Her stage presence is a little weird, she kind of stalks around like a horse who isn’t quite sure how to walk right, but vocally, she kills it. Really great job.
7. Sisaundra Lewis, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” Elton John (Team Blake)
Billy Joel and now Elton John? Love the outside-the-box song choices for Sisaundra these past couple weeks. Anyway, it is no surprise that she does a great job. First off, it’s unusual to hear this song coming from a female R&B voice, so that automatically makes it unusual and unique and then vocally, she makes it sound effortless. Plus, she looks like a million bucks. A lot of these contestants seem like kids in a singing competition, but Sisaundra is a woman and she’s ready for the Grammys.
Usher compares her to Patti LaBelle, which is apropos. She’s really, really good.
8. Kristen Merlin, “Stay,” Sugarland (Team Shakira)
Good choice for her, this could be a nice moment for her — and then she totally does. The opening bars give me goosebumps, gorgeous. After two powerhouse performances from Christina and Sisaundra, this was a nice way to bring it down because it isn’t any less good, it’s just different. I’d love to hear her on Band Perry’s “If I Die Young.” Oh no! And then her microphone goes out! Oh, sweetie. That’s a shame, but it shouldn’t hurt her. In fact, it’ll probably help her get votes, honestly.
9. Kat Perkins, “Magic Man,” Heart (Team )
Well, speaking of “Magic Man,” here it is. My feeling about Bria still stands — she also could have done “Crazy On You.” Anyway, Kat says Heart is her favorite band of all time, so now we are besties forever and ever. She also does an amazing job on this song and Ann Wilson is serious business, she’s not messing around vocally. So if Kat can sing both Ann and Steve Perry? She’s proven her chops. I also dig her stage presence, she totally owns this song. Outstanding job.
Adam Levine continues to mind-meld with me by giving props to Steve Perry and Ann Wilson.
Three-fourths of the way through, this is four in a row who have totally killed it — Christina, Sisaundra, Kristen and Kat just rocked it.
10. Jake Worthington, “Anymore,” Travis Tritt (Team Blake)
OK, this is one of my favorite country ballads of all time, so don’t screw it up, Jake. One thing he has got to get right is the emotion. Tritt sounds like his heart is shattering when he sings this song, especially on the bridge and final chorus. C’mon, Jake! I’m rooting for you!
Well, when he starts out … yikes. He’s terribly sharp. Oh, Jake. Oh, dear. This is a mess, you guys. The pitch is all over the place. Is he just nervous? Because we have heard him sound so much better than this! Also, why does he even have that guitar?
Anyway, wow. That was … hoo boy. Not good.
11. Tess Boyer, “I’ll Be There For You,” Bon Jovi (Team Shakira)
Not a bad choi
ce, though I would have loved to hear her do “Bed of Roses” if she was going to go Bon Jovi. But either way, she does a great job with this. Man, the girls are so much stronger than the guys this season. I’m so glad the show doesn’t make the gender numbers be even, that’s such a detriment to “American Idol” some seasons.
Anyway, Tess isn’t quite up there with Kat/Christina, but she’s very good this week. Definitely in the top half of singers tonight. Part of the trouble is the song, it’s just not that exciting. My feeling about “Bed of Roses” still holds after she’s done performing. Still, solid job.
12. Josh Kaufman, “Stay With Me,” Sam Smith (Team Usher)
Not in love with the song choice, it’s a little boring. Josh has a great voice and he’s handling the jumps in and out of his upper register with aplomb. But the performance is a little blah for me. He’s not in any danger, of course, but there could have been a little more punch behind it. Also, the rain graphics were distracting.
So, who’s in the Bottom 3? For me, it’s easily Jake Worthington, Dani Moz and T.J. Wilkins. I think Dani and T.J. did enough to stick around, but Jake was the worst performer tonight by a mile. There’s no reason he should be here after tomorrow night’s results. Sorry, buddy.
What do you think, “Voice” fans?