If nothing else, The Voice sure does manage to put on the most eclectic concert series anyone would ever expect to hear in one sitting each week. From swamp country crooners to church-worthy gospel singers to gnashing rock chicks, there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy.
Tonight, the remnants of Team Jennifer Hudson and Team Blake Shelton vie for the coveted final three spots on each team before we head into the live rounds, and there are quite a few surprises — for better and for worse.
Let’s walk through how the playoffs pay off for these two teams tonight.
Jennifer Hudson’s first year on the American version of The Voice has already been filled with interesting choices, but tonight, her best options present themselves to her pretty clearly.
Holy mackerel, can this man sing. Jennifer Hudson knows what Davon Fleming is capable of — evidently even better than he does — and assigns him a song that’s probably nearer and dearer to her heart than most: “I Am Changing” from Dreamgirls, the movie that won her an Academy Award. Davon’s been good all season. Solidly, consistently so. But tonight, his coach is obviously trying to nudge him from solid contestant to frontrunner. This is a bold melody for him to approach. And Jennifer is right to trust him with it, because it certainly accelerates my appreciation of him.
Davon starts the song with subdued, almost breathy tones and progresses into some beautiful belts — it’s like we’re all riding an escalator into a past generation of groove music. His control is impressive, and even those moments when he doesn’t hit the expected note are powerful enough to work. He could stand to dial it down about two notches with the runs, but it’s still a top-notch showcase, and it’s hardly any wonder why the opposing coaches are left stunned and jealous of Jennifer Hudson.
All season, Hannah Mrozak has, for me, done just enough to slip through each round, but tonight’s performance isn’t quite as convincing as the rest. Singing Kesha’s “Learn to Let Go,” Hannah leans into some serious Leona Lewis tones, but it feels like a generic version of that radio sensation.
She’s still got a nice pop-rock sound at points, especially when she veers away from cry singing, but she mostly stays at full tilt, which is already old about 30 seconds in. It might be her lack of connection to the song, but the emotionlessness of this routine is obvious and off putting.
Oh man. Lucas Holliday has been a fun element of this season for sure — his enthusiasm and energy are certainly infectious, and, yes, he’s got some soul that might not be expected of him at first glance. But tonight…I’m sorry, but it’s so bad.
Why Jennifer Hudson decided to assign her comeback artist here to Prince and the Revolution’s “The Beautiful Ones” is beyond me, because it’s an absolute mismatch. Somehow, Blake Shelton is left with goo-goo eyes for Lucas after the performance, but to my ears, he does nothing but butcher the thing from top to bottom. His whisper tones in the intro are excruciatingly forced, and his attempt to riff with squeals and low-note grabs to spice things up is counterproductive. That said, I’m going to blame it all on the song selection here because Lucas has certainly shown that he’s gifted and can jive with other music.
There’s a lot to like about what Shi’Ann Jones manages to accomplish with her performance of Ariana Grande’s “Tattooed Heart.” There’s a decadence to her voice that’s a reminder of all the easy-listening R&B we got from the likes of Toni Braxton and Monica in the ’90s, and yet there’s also some courage to her note runs that harkens back to Mariah Carey in the Daydream days.
Jennifer Hudson, of course, hears and sees a lot of herself in Shi’Ann Jones, which is why Jennifer has always been so patient with her. But with so much ache and force teeter-tottering throughout her showcase, Shi’Ann is really laying out a buffet of her gifts and hoping her coach will find something to her liking. Luckily for her, Jennifer hears enough to know that she’s got something worth working with in Shi’Ann’s skill set.
Up until tonight, I never really realized how much Chris Weaver and Davon Fleming have in common, and now that they’ve performed in such close sequence, it’s pretty clear which of the two is readier for this level of the competition.
While Chris’ take on Marlena Shaw’s “California Soul” is filled with his strength and satisfyingly coarse voice, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Unlike Davon, who methodically moved from one octave into another and back again, Chris hits the precipice of his vocals and lingers there the entire time. There’s no doubt he’s got talent and so much heart, but against Davon, it’s unexpectedly underwhelming.
I feel like every time we hear Noah Mac sing, he sounds just a touch different than ever before. That’s certainly true of tonight, as he tackles Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” with an absolute crescendo of a performance that begins with some maddeningly soft (and let’s be honest, reaching) low tones and ends with him losing all abandon and rocking right on out with the sticky street rhythms of this contemporary classic.
The first verses are not impressive, but there’s something much more authentic about what he puts into the rest of the song, introducing a new growly mojo to his stage presence. It makes me want to hear much more of that from him. What begins as a yawn ends in a head bang, and I’ve got to respect that.
- First Jennifer Hudson chooses Davon Fleming to stay because, as she points out, he has definitely showcased his fitness for this competition.
- Then, she lands on Noah Mac as her second wave-through because she’s convinced he can “play both sides of the coin” and bring both an entertainment factor and a solid vocals.
- Last but not least, she opts for Shi’Ann Jones to stick around because Jennifer has has considered her a daughterly figure from the get-go, and she’s shown enough raw potential here to prove that she can be coached into improvement.
- That means we’ll be saying goodbye to Hannah, Lucas, and Chris.