It was two steps back for Josiah Hawley, after breaking through with a Script cover last week. He couldn’t pull of the tricky Coldplay song Usher chose for him, leaving me to wonder if last week’s triumph was a fluke. He’s easy on the eyes AND plays the guitar, but he better watch out for those fellow guitar strummers, the Swon Brothers. They get stronger every week, and I suspect they’ll be waving at Josiah in their rear view mirrors fairly soon.
After a string of wow performances, Amber Carrington couldn’t elevate her cover of Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” beyond competent karaoke. Judith Hill finally paid tribute to her hero Michael Jackson, but unfortunately chose the wrong song. That’s two front runners who disappointed this week.
Not disappointing, were Sasha Allen, Sarah Simmons and Michelle Chamuel. Sasha tackled a pop song, and won. Michelle continued to delight with another unique and compelling performance. And Sarah literally jumped out of the box to reveal an edgy, sexy side to her performing style. The best of the night. Easily.
Small Wonder Danielle Bradbery continued to defy logic, as the girl with no prior experience who performs like she was born on a stage. It’s almost creepy. But it’s not.
Weirdest performance of the night goes to Holly Tucker who opened the show with a popular church hymn, “How Great Thou Art.” No doubt Holly is the hit of her church choir, but the competition stage? I’m not so sure.
The night was overshadowed by the devastating news coming out of Oklahoma. With both coach Blake Shelton and finalists, the Swon Brothers, hailing from the area, it set a somber tone for the next two hours. Maybe opening the show with a hymn wasn’t a bad idea after all.
The Voice Top 10 sing for YOUR votes tonight! I’ll be liveblogging the performances right here.
OOOOHHH. Adam Levine isn’t sitting in his chair as the live show begins! That’s because he’s about to perform with Maroon 5. The new single “Love Somebody” is super-duper poppy, with a swooping hook. The song is like colored cotton candy. The entire band is dressed in white, as if they were all heading to a summer party. Now we get a sneak peek of the video as we head to commercial.
Cee Lo Green is on hand to help Shakira mentor her team. He helped her arrange a song for one of her team members. The mentors have all returned to help out. Carson shouts out to the folks of Oklahoma who have just experienced a devastating tornado. Blake Shelton, an Oklahoma homeboy, is devastated, but pledges to put his feelings aside tonight for his team.
Holly Tucker – Team Blake – How Great Thou Art – This week, Blake wants to tap into Holly’s gospel roots. She grew up in the church and refuses to hide that aspect of her personality. So she picks an old fashioned hymn and sings it like she’s part of the Sunday school choir. For an overtly religious song to win over the believers and the non-believers, it’s got to be knock-your-socks-off great, and that just wasn’t. Holly has demonstrated, throughout the competition, that she has a powerful voice, but there’s always a disconnect. This week was a little better, but that performanced should have given me goosebumps to work. She could be in trouble this week, unless theres a Christian contingent that comes out to vote. Usher felt she made an incredible statement, but a different shift for her. Sharkira is moved and calls it “heavenly” She also admires the control she has over her instrument. Adam says it epitomizes the show–the purity of the voice. Blake has never heard her sing so strong before. He felt she turned it up a notch–her most important performance. 1-855-864-2301 Sprint Text 1 to 8642 - Download from iTunes
Judith Hill – Team Adam – The Way You Make Me Feel by Michael Jackson – Judith has a very emotional attachment to MJ, and is hesitant to perform his music, because it hurts her that some people feel she’s taking advantage of that relationship. Both Adam and mentor Hillary Scott encourage her to honor her friend. So an MJ song it is, this week. Judith starts off the song slow and jazzy, before she kicks into the familiar upbeat arrangement. Out of all of the MJ songs she had to choose from, I don’t get this pick. It’s a pleasant mid-tempo tune, but there’s not much there to play with. She’s trying to jazz it up and near the end she throws in a few impressive adlibs, but it’s not one of her best performances. She tears up as the crowd cheers and Carson comforts her, assuring that the crowd loved her homage. Blake liked the way she changed it up. Usher loves MJ. He was emotional too. Nobody wants to really critique her performance. Adam notes the receptive audience and hopes Judith now understands that singing an MJ song is not exploitation. – 1-855-864-2302 Sprint Text 2 to 8642 Download from iTunes
Christina Milian is up in the skybox wasting time. Filler. That’s her job! Josiah comes from a large family and tells a story about scaring away one of his sister’s boyfriends. Michelle and Josiah are BFFs. WHO KNEW.
The Swon Brothers – Team Blake - How Country Feels by Randy Houser - Blake wants to give the duo a rock edge this week. Sheryl gives the guys pointers on their phrasing. Blake done good choosing this song for the boys. Their harmonies are spot on, and the harder sound gives them some edge. The two trade off leads impressively. Lots of ease in that performance. These boys aren’t going anywhere. They are also from Oklahoma and have a few words to say to their people back home. The boys thoughts are with them. Oh. These two are DEFINITELY not going anywhere. The duo make Shakira feel like she’s had a double latte. In other words, they make her feel good. The older Swon’s “scream face” skeers Adam! He’s has had to slap them around a bit, but things are coming together for the guys. They have the potential to be stars, says Blake. 1-855-864-2303 Sprint Text 3 to 8642 - Download from iTunes
Amber Carrington – Team Adam – Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson – “Hillary totally gets me!”, says Amber. Adam compares his team member to Kelly–someone who can cross over between pop and country. As a small town girl, Amber says she really connects to the lyrics and is looking to have another moment. Welp. Not this week, I’m afraid. Her lower register is weak and breathy. The song doesn’t pop until she hits the big notes in the chorus, but even then, her performance is underwhelming. This, from a contestant who has been pretty great every week. Queen Kelly is a pretty tough act to follow. Amber needed to find a way to make it hers, but even the wind machine blowing her flowy skirt failed to help. A very uncharacteristically karaoke performance from Amber. You look great in wind,” says Blake. He thought the song choice was a good call. Usher enjoyed it, loved he arrangement. Shakira felt the song was right in her wheelhouse. Adam is impressed that Amber can go from singing Rihanna to Kelly, who has one of the best voices in the business. He FRIGGING LOVES HER.1-855-864-2304 Sprint Text 4 to 8642 Download from iTunes
Sasha Allan - Team Shakira – Next to Me by Emile Sande - Sasha is thrilled to be mentored by TWO Voice coaches. She’s happy to be singing an upbeat song this week. What I liked about Sasha’s interpretation of this song was the way she built and varied her phrasing with each verse. By the last chorus, her vocals explode. It’s thrilling. Not one dull moment in this performance. Yes. Sasha can sing pop songs convincingly, in case you were wondering. She’s totally one of my favs. Cee Lo is very impressed with Sasha. – Adam was really happy that she interpreted a pop song. He’s super proud of her. Blake thought the “fit” Shakira was having during Sasha’s performance was “awesome.” Usher is impressed that she put her own texture on a song outside of her comfort zone. Shakira is proud that Sasha was able to completely rock a current song. - 1-855-864-2305 Sprint Text 5 to 8642 Download from iTunes
Josiah Hawley – Team Usher – Clocks by Coldplay – I have a feeling Josiah will NEVER LOSE THAT GUITAR. And it’s probably smart, even when he barely plays it, like tonight. WGWG for the win! Josiah’s vocal limitation are on display in the upper reaches of this song, where his voice literally fades out. He has NO falsetto. I don’t understand why Usher gave him this rangy, difficult to sing, tune. Josiah needs to stick in that small window in the middle of his range where he sounds best. Last week was a win, because “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” hit right in his sweet spot. Shakira has trouble with ANYONE covering Coldplay, but appreciates his attempt. Adam agrees with Shakria. It was a good performance, but there were moments where he didn’t seem comfortable. Inconsistent. The coaches keep bringing up his last game-changing performance. This week isn’t measuring up. Usher doesn’t completely agree, but believes his PERSONALITY continues to grow. Watch the girls scream. He doesn’t say it, but the singing is obviously secondary to Josiah’s personality and charisma, like that OTHER Usher protege. Ahem. 1-855-864-2306 Sprint Text 6 to 8642 Download from iTunes
Danielle Bradbery – Team Blake – Heads Carolina, Tails California by Jo Dee Messina – In order to help Danielle make a connection to what she’s singing, mentor, Sheryl Crow, talks about her experience battling breast cancer, and how it opened her up. I’m not sure 16 year old Danielle can relate to what she’s talking about. Mortality is an abstract concept to a kid. Sheryl gives Danielle practical advice, suggesting she pick one person in the audience and deliver the song. Blake calls Danielle his “retirement.” On stage, scary preternatural performer, Danielle, continues to be scary! But in the best possible way. She sings with ease, like she’s been doing it forever in a former life. She probably has. I don’t think a connection to what she’s singing is a problem. She’s such a natural, I buy what she’s selling. As she gains life experience, that connection will naturally deepen. In the meantime, this gal is radio ready. Usher says she made country cool. She’s a shining star for Team Blake. Adam is blown away by her poise and casual attitude. Blake loved the way she can deliver a country lyric. He predicts the song will shoot up the chart, because people believe her when she sings. 1-855-864-2307 Sprint Text 7 to 8642 - Download from iTunes
Kris Thomas – Team Shakira – Adorn by Miguel – Kris has not been lucky in love, which is why he connects to the big ballads he sings. Performing a hopeful, happy song will be a departure for him. Cee Lo gives him pointers on how to make his performance sexier. But Kris doesn’t have it in him. While Miguel is literally sex on a stick when he performs this song, Kris interprets it as if he were the non-threatening lead singer of an 80′s boy band. It’s all innocent puppy love. It’s still a decent performance, even if Kris never seems entirely comfortable in his skin. Adam thought it was a good performance, but wants to feel him thinking less. He needs to have more fun. Usher feels Kris can do anything. But agrees with Adam that Kris thinks too much. Maybe it wasn’t the right song, he says. Shakira disagrees and becomes a little defensive, accusing her fellow coaches of being too picky when they call him “nervous.” Usher points out that he didn’t use the word “nervous.” Yes, there is a difference between overthinking a performance and being straight up nervous, Shakira! She talks over Usher until he’s left hiding behind his chair. 1-855-864-2308 Sprint Text 8 to 8642 Download from iTunes
Christina Milian Blah blah blah. Danielle got a shout out from Joe Dee Messina. Kris calls Cee Lo the king of sexy.
Sarah Simmons – Team Adam – Mamma Knows Best by Jesse J. – This song was Sarah’s pick! Adam likes the choice, but feels it’s essential she works on vocal control. She’s less Jesse J and more Fiona Apple on this song, which is a good thing. She growls her way through the performance with ATTITUDE–flirting with the guitar players as she struts confidently across the stage. It’s a side of Sarah we haven’t seen yet and I like it! A sultry, impassioned performance, Sarah is full of surprises, which should keep her in the competition for now. Blake says she radiated sexy tonight, and turned the corner musically. “That was rock n roll,” he says. Usher calls it an incredible performance. Adam is fanning himself. “I love hearing Blake wetting his pants over you.” Adam believes it was the performance of the night.1-855-864-2309 Sprint Text 9 to 8642 Download from iTunes
Michelle Chamuel – Team Usher – Just Give Me A Reason by Pink – Usher gave Michelle a song that was heavily built with emotion, and would also show her range. Pharrell calls her a “monster singer” with the potential to have a long career. Another impressive vocal performance from Michelle. Her voice is truly an instrument. She has the ability to go from broken vulnerability to strength within the space of a song. She’s theatrical, unique, and absolutely compelling to watch– but without overplaying her hand. I hope she makes the finals, and if she keeps turning out show stopping performances like this, she will. Adam is a fan. He’s proud. Blake loves her drama. Usher feels THAT was the performance of the night. 1-855-864-2310 Sprint Text 10 to 8642 – Download from iTunes