The Voice recap: 'Live Playoffs, Night 2'
Six more go home from Team Adam and Team Gwen
Tonight, The Voice‘s top 12 rounds out as the remaining members of Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani’s teams compete for the final three spots on each squad. And just like last night, when Blake Shelton and Alicia Keys’ squads were whittled down, there are no real surprises here.
Here’s how the live playoffs went down.
New rule: Gwen Stefani has to stop coaching her people to worry about their posture or their facial expressions or their eye contact. None of that is important, and her advice only seems to condemn these kids to concentrating on something besides their singing. Make it stahhp.
Voted in to the Top 12:
Brennley Brown (“Fly” by Maddie & Tay): There’s something so cozy about Brennley Brown’s warm vocals, isn’t there? The girl has nice instincts as well, and it’s impressive that she’s able to travel between her full voice and falsetto so fluently. This song might not be one that everyone knows by heart, but she performs it well enough to make everyone forget about the case of nerves that set in at the tail end and vote her through.
Hunter Plake (“Elastic Heart” by Sia): Ahhh, Hunter. As Gwen herself puts it, Hunter Plake is the brightest star of her team by a few lightyears. He starts out this number with some straight-up Frou Frou head tones and escalates into his usual pop-alternative crooning, and all of it is just perfect. Adam predicts that he’ll be one to easily glide into the mainstream after this season is all said and done, and I can’t help but agree that he’s got something to offer a lot of listeners right now. His voice is very, very pretty and soothing.
Saved by Gwen:
Troy Ramey (“A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell): Adam tells Troy here that he has a tinge of nerves that audibly strike in the beginning of this song, but I think that has more to do with his obligation to Gwen to throw in a (completely unnecessary) bit of head voice in a song that was otherwise appropriately mournful and emotional. Since she’s the one who earned him one of the only critiques of the evening from her co-coach, she kinda owes it him to wave him through for another shot.
Johnny Gates (“Hands to Myself” by Selena Gomez): Gwen Stefani is taken enough with Johnny Gates’ sunny smile and earnest stage attitude that she invites him back as her comeback kid of this round. His pop-rock vibe is reminiscent of something Steven Tyler might’ve done just before his own competition show days. A monotonous song like this doesn’t do Johnny’s level voice any favors, though, since he’s already a little one-dimensional.
Quizz Swanigan (“My Girl” by The Temptations): I’ve not always been sold on Quizz Swanigan this season, but this was a pretty convincing little showcase he pulled off tonight. This is by far his most controlled and calculated effort — fit with a fancy suit, to boot — and I appreciated how he played with his still-developing low range but mostly went with the more saccharine tones that define his strength. However, even though he might earn a bit of Gwen’s “you’re magical” hyperbole tonight, he’s obviously not impressed her enough to earn her save bid.
JChosen (“Nothing Compares 2 U” by Prince): JChosen not getting through is arguably the biggest letdown of the night because he’s got some of those old school R&B vibes that make you want to bring out some candles and dim the lights while listening. Problem is, he flattens out about halfway through and seems to lose his groove for good, which overshadows what was an excellent start to this performance.
Adam’s got an uphill battle ahead of him if he wants to win this year. Of the six contestants he’s chosen to get through to this point, half — maybe even less than half — have a real fighting chance at finding themselves anywhere near the finale. I know he had a tough time nabbing the most promising recruits during the blinds, but c’mon.
Voted in to the Top 12:
Jesse Larson (“Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder): “Buttery” is a good way to describe the way Jesse Larson sounds in his best moments, so hat tip to Adam for that one. Jesse Larson’s certainly got some soul — he’s the “white Cee-Lo Green,” in his coach’s estimations — and Adam knows this guy’s his best shot at having a team member in the finale.
Lilli Passero (“It’s Too Late” by Carole King): Lilli Passero’s been a hard sell for me so far in this competition, but tonight, she pretty accurately nails this soulful number. That tendency to sensualize her performances reads as authentic tonight, so it’s not a distraction from her vocals, which are a little more memorable than in performances past. She does seem to lose the key about halfway through, but compared to the rest of the crowd on this team, she’s an easy pick for the at-home ballots.
Saved by Adam:
Mark Isaiah (“All Time Low” by Jon Bellion): Mark Isaiah has the benefit of being the only true male pop singer in a climate where boy bands are out and solo studs are in. Adam chooses this number for him to prove that he’s not just another Justin Bieber stan on stage, and Mark (mostly) rises to the occasion of trying his hand at an R&B jam. It’s not good enough for voters, even after Adam implores viewers to give him another shot, but it’s good enough to make Adam’s decision to give Mark his own pass pretty easy.
Johnny Hayes (“Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by The Rolling Stones): There’s nothing wrong with Johnny Hayes. If I heard him at a bar or a festival, it’d be totally entertaining. But it’s hard to listen to his humdrum performances and think, “This guy is The Voice.” Maybe if he had his own lyrics he wouldn’t race through them indecipherably and things would be different, but on this stage, for this competition, his funk-rock runs are a little run of the mill to take him any further here.
Hanna Eyre (“Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato): It’s getting harder and harder to tell when Adam means it when he says, “You have what it takes,” and/or, “Your voice is insane,” because he offers these compliments to Hanna Eyre when it’s clear neither is true. For her age, sure, there’s a raw skill there that’s totally ripe for refining. But her performance was full of pitchiness, scream-singing, and a lot of off-key moments that made her low-hanging fruit for the toss basket tonight.
Josh West (“More Than a Feeling” by Boston): Josh West might be gnarly with his bona fide allegiance to the classic rock station and hairstyle and all, but let’s be real here: He’s not a polished singer. He might be able to belt and know these anthems by heart, giving him a stage presence that’s rad enough for his genre of choice, but vocally, he’s… just not there yet.
And with that, folks, we have our top 12:
- Team Adam: Mark Isaiah, Jesse Larson, Lilli Passero
- Team Gwen: Troy Ramey, Brennley Brown, Hunter Plake
- Team Alicia: Vanessa Ferguson, Chris Blue, Stephanie Rice
- Team Blake: Lauren Duski, Aliyah Moulden, TSoul