Making it to the Top 10 of any large competition is a big accomplishment. The Voice’s group of 10-best artists might still include some filler, but many of these singers are only improving week after week. For those who aren’t shining as brightly, their time to correct course is drawing to a close. One week from tomorrow, the Top 9 will be cut to the Top 4, banishing over half the singers from the competition in one fell swoop. It’s gonna be a doozy
But before any of that can happen, the Top 10 still have a chance to make an impression. First to perform tonight is one of good guys, Team Gwen’s power player Jeffery Austin. Jeffery has built up enough credit with me to have an off night every now and again, and tonight he cashed in. He takes on “Jealous” by the British singer Labrinth. It’s not a well-known song (the album containing “Jealous” hasn’t even been released), so he doesn’t have the “wow factor” that automatically accompanies pulling off an Adele track or the like. Gwen tells her artist that she wants him to “lose complete control” and show a more intimate part of himself; but Jeffery stands rigid at the mic and gives less emotion than we’ve seen previously. None of this is to say his voice isn’t still a thing of beauty, but going forward, he’s got to challenge himself and get out of this mopey rut.
The second singer of the episode, Emily Ann Roberts, is the opposite of mopey. She continues to home in on her bluegrass roots, and it’s only benefiting her. Each week, I’m learning to appreciate her voice more. Her song choice, Patsy Cline’s “She’s Got You,” is no happy-go-lucky ditty, but the bright, intimate staging and Emily Ann’s expressive body language keep it more yearning than dour. I’m not sure if this is as memorable as her other performances, but it’s lovely. Also lovely is the relationship between Emily Ann and her coach. Blake says he’s “never had a better collaborator in nine seasons” and declares “She’s Got You” as Emily Ann’s best song yet.
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Team Gwen’s second performer, Braiden Sunshine, is next to take the stage. Despite his continued popularity, Braiden hasn’t had much luck when it comes to song choice in the past few weeks. He’s been buffeted between cheesy ’80s rock and British New Wave, neither of which are his cup of tea. But tonight, he finally steps into the modern era with Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive.” Unfortunately, as any good Voice historian knows, “Radioactive” carries something of a curse on this show. It’s been performed three times previously — and none of those who sang it have ever fared well. Gwen opts for spare backing music, which doesn’t underscore the power of the song (there’s no drop), which makes the whole experiment come off as a lamer, tamer version of the original. We know Braiden’s got big notes, but he didn’t bring the drama or the tension this song requires, leaving the whole thing feeling deflated.
NEXT: Too little, too late? Or just enough and right on time?