The ranks of Voice competitors are growing thinner, with just 12 now performing in Monday’s live show. And the perils of performing live were made all too clear, as one competitor had to recover from what was potentially an embarrassing mess-up.
Though the evening featured strong work across all four teams, Adam’s team seems like the one to beat after tonight, with each member turning out a winning performance. Let’s look and evaluate everyone who took the stage.
It’s undeniable that the most solid performance from Team Blake came from Craig Wayne Boyd, who performed “You Look So Good in Love.” Blake’s team boiled down to Boyd and two of the most original sounding singers in the group, and while my personal music tastes may skew toward the other members of the team, Boyd delivered a performance that, as Gwen remarked, came off as professional. I really like both Reagan James and Jessie Pitts, but I’d have to give the 16-year-old (!) James the edge here. Though Adam criticized James’s breathiness in “It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over,” the performance felt more cohesive. Pitts did an interesting take on “Don’t You Worry Child,” but the interpretation seemed to waver, especially when she got up from her piano. Still, Blake was so sweet when he spoke on her behalf, comparing her to his wife, Miranda Lambert.
The top member of Team Gwen for me is Anita Antoinette, who closed out the night with her take on Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” Antoinette’s performance clearly was personally meaningful, a fact which shone through when she sang, but the whole thing brimmed with passion. Taylor John Williams’ lovely, understated take on “If,” was the runner-up on Team Gwen. The lowest ranking member of her team? Ryan Sill. Though the judges were impressed by his version of Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World,” the big notes felt almost scream-y, and I have trouble looking past the artifice in his performing style.
Team Pharrell tonight was a heartbreaker, but I’ll get to that in a second. First off, DaNica Shirey continues to plow through this competition, tonight making an unconventional song choice given her style. Shirey sang Radiohead’s “Creep,” a song which has been subjected to all types of covers. (That Swedish choral version used in absolutely perfect The Social Network trailer, anyone?) But Pharrell and Shirey made the song funky—Pharrell invoking Al Green during rehearsals—and although I’m not sure their version truly captured the angst of Radiohead’s, it was successful in its purpose. (Not so successful? The gigantic fans behind Shirey who were just one of the many odd choices when it came to the night’s scenic design.)
Now we get on to the sad part of the evening: Luke Wade. At the beginning of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” Wade stumbled, coming in too early. He picked himself up though, and finished the song, once again proving he has one of the best voices in the competition. As he listened to the coaches, who were all incredibly supportive, Wade looked like he was on the verge of tears. Their support, however, was genuine. He showed that he can recover from that type of setback with aplomb, a mark of a talented performer. Plus, he just sounded fantastic. Perhaps, it’s unfair to rank him higher than Sugar Joans based on his mistake, but he just simply has more chops. Joans’ “Take Me To the River,” however, was pleasantly restrained, given her previous work.
Adam’s team is the most stacked, and it is genuinely hard to pick a top performance. If I had to—and I’m making myself—I’d go with Damien’s “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” which was smooth and soulful. Damien, beautifully, never felt like he was pushing despite the song’s challenges. He just simply nailed it, and Pharrell agreed, standing up for him. I’ve been cheering Matt McAndrew all along, and have always been somewhat cold on Chris Jamison, but Jamison won me over with his interpretation of Nick Jonas’ “Jealous,” which was, to put it simply, a falsetto jam. McAndrew, meanwhile, suffered from some overproduction during his version of Hozier’s “Take Me to Church.” The graphics behind him on stage were dreadful, and Adam and Blake complained they couldn’t really hear him. His “Take Me to Church” was still pretty much on par with all of the other strong performances on Adam’s team. At this point I’d say Adam might just hold the winner to this season.
Please visit the EW Community to read season 2 semifinalist Katrina Parker’s take on last night’s episode of The Voice.