Ray Uriel Brings Afrobeats “Essence” to The Voice Playoffs

The Voice 23 Ray Uriel
Pictured: Ray Uriel — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

Ray Uriel Brings Afrobeats “Essence” to The Voice and on to the Top 8

The Voice season 23 playoffs began on Monday night. Team Blake Shelton and Team Chance the Rapper got them off to a fiery start with several hard decisions to be made by each coach as their top 5 had to be whittled down to 2 a piece. (Read our Recap)

The playoffs were pre-taped, so for the first time in a while, America had no say in the decisions. I’m pretty sure had America had a say, things may have gone differently. Either way, a strong competitor from Team Chance was dark horse Ray Uriel who brought Afrobeats to The Voice stage.

Chance calls Ray “my subtle soul singer” in his pre-performance package. Ray says, “I’m feeling this song. It’s different from what I’ve done so far” about “Essence” by Wizkid and TEMS. Ray comes in with a clear direction of what he wants to do. He plans on having the backing singers take the lead with him adlibbing down the stretch. Chance loves the idea. Ray says he got picked on a lot, and that music helped him through it. Chance advises him to slow it down and make it a bit more open. This is great advice as it is a competition after all, and he needs to show his voice off. Ray loves working with Chance in his “producer element.” He tells Ray to have fun with it.

Comparisons to Frank Ocean

Ray’s slowed down version of “Essence” shows off his voice better than any performance of his to date. The opening is a slow build-up, but he hits some very pleasant falsetto notes. However, he took some of the energy out of the song, and it lacked the original dance beat which makes the tune a lot of fun. He did blend great with the backing vocalists, and is what I call a run technician. Ray is great at landing runs even if he may put a few too many in his performance. This song was an excellent choice to show a contemporary side for Ray, and it was his breakout performance, as I finally saw what Chance saw in him.

Kelly Clarkson says, “your voice is like the angel I would want to sing to me”. She loves his “broken, but sweet and smooth” tone. Blake thinks his sound is timeless and calls it “very 90s.” He says, “you need to put this guy through.” Niall Horan compares him to Frank Ocean, calling him the “real deal” He too advises Chance to put him through. Chance is proud of Ray, saying “when you make the song sound like you want them to be it’s incredible.”

Ray advances to the semifinals

Chance chooses Ray as his second artist to advance to the semifinals. He says, “Ray is an amazing artist. He has potential not just as a vocalist but as a writer.” Chance finds him “unique” saying, “what he brings to the show is himself.”

It’s exciting to see an Afrobeats song performed on The Voice. After all Team Blake’s Libianca, top 20 finisher, from Season 21, has struck gold with her Afrobeats hit, “People” which got as high as number 2 on the UK Singles charts and number 3 on the US Billboard Bubbling Under Charts. The song Ray chose, “Essence” was a big breakthrough for Wizkid and TEMS as it hit number 9 on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts in 2021. This was a groundbreaking moment for Afrobeats singers.

I probably would’ve chosen Grace West and Rachel Christine for Team Blake, but Team Blake was ultra-competitive, and I can understand why he chose NOIVAS due to his consistent performances and his confident stage presence. From a Team Chance standpoint, I found Ray Uriel and Kala Banham who delivered the performance of the night to be the ones who deserved to move on. Ultimately, Chance went with Ray and Sorelle. He probably chose Ray due to the intrigue of his song, and Sorelle due to the intrigue they bring as a trio, as their old-school doo-wop style meets modern pop. Overall, I can see why the coaches made their decisions, but I’m hoping I agree more with Niall and Kelly’s decisions next week.

About Blake Busch 272 Articles
I am a graduate of Drake University with a BSBA in marketing and minor in data analytics. My favorite shows to follow are American Idol and The Voice. I also love crime thrillers, Top Chef, and Masterchef. My hobbies include cooking, baking, playing basketball, and watching sports.