The Voice recap: 'The Playoffs, Night 2'
It's Adam Levine's turn to chop his team in half
Tonight on The Voice, it’s Adam Levine’s turn to put his team on the chopping block and whittle down his competitors to three before America gets the chance to vote next week. And while Jennifer Hudson and Blake Shelton’s choices weren’t exactly easy, Adam’s decision time seems especially difficult for him because he’s pretty attached to a few of the contestants who just aren’t there yet.
Let’s take a look at who makes it through this round of the playoffs, and who gets sent packing in the final stretch before the lives.
After seeing Esera Tuaolo blow it in his leg of the playoffs, Blake Shelton probably is kicking himself over having let Adam Cunningham go (and be stolen by Adam Levine) in the knockouts because, yeah, it’s his loss. Adam’s rendition of Joe Cocker’s “Have a Little Faith in Me” starts out with some smartly subdued, almost romantic tones that invite listeners in before he nails everyone to the wall with his textured, gritty full tones.
He sounds like a soft-rock hybrid of Van Morrison and Bob Seger — or perhaps even like Sundance Head without all the bombast. As Miley Cyrus rightly points out, he could arrive as a fan favorite for his easy-listening appeal. The performance does come off as a little too muted in some spots, but he does his best to add some power to his delivery where he can, so it’s still convincing enough that there’s something there.
Welp, this makes us three for three on comeback artists gone wrong. Although Whitney Fenimore’s performance in the knockouts was pleasant enough to justify her being chosen to return to Team Adam for one last hurrah, tonight’s effort doubles down on the reason why she’s not really suited to advance through to the lives.
Her rendition of Sheryl Crow’s “If It Makes You Happy” is pretty much exactly the opposite of what her coach wants it to be — she doesn’t seem to be feeling the “effortlessly cool” nature of the lyrics, she’s a beat behind the tempo from the get-go, and, worst of all, she misses the power note of the chorus every single time. She tries to soften the song a bit to match her own strengths, but in doing so, she stymies her own attachment to this pop-rock ballad. Even the coaches can’t help but call her out on a terrible first half of the song, which is not what you want to hear when you’re already the underdog in the cutthroat round.
I’m really starting to warm up to Emily Luther, but I don’t think she’s warming up to this competition quite yet. She’s visibly stiff, and her singing come off as a bit too lofty as a result of it. That said, her voice is still impressive — she’s even having some Celine Dion moments with her high notes when she does let loose for a second…but only for a second.
Her anthem of the evening is “Lovesong,” which she’s given a “theatrical” flair to give her some pseudo-Bond girl vibes. Despite the effort to coat the performance with some flair, though, she’s clearly disconnected. There are very few technical mistakes because, as we already knew, Emily is very nearly professional with her preparedness, but her unwillingness to put her personality into the number hurts her. Recording artists and choir singers might only need to find the right note and sing it, but standing out in this particular type of contest, where the intangible qualities count, is key, and it’s just not there with her.
Even in the rehearsals, Adam’s already starting to prepare this kid for what happens next after he leaves the show, which probably doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence in him. The thing is, of the holdovers for Team Adam, Anthony Alexander is probably the least “ready,” in the sense that his voice is still so shaky and raw.
He has still got some very lovely, fresh tones and does manage to control his notes in the opening to his performance of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” better than he has in the past. But Anthony is kind of like Justin Timberlake without the slick instincts for staccato, making his note changes too sudden and arbitrary. (Recap continues on page 2)
Well, well, well, look who’s just staked his claim for all the hearts. We haven’t gotten to know much about Jon Mero aside from his strong sense of showmanship this season because he’s usually resorted to busy, bustling numbers, which are fun but don’t exactly give us anything that sticks.
Tonight, though, he manages to do what so few have before — sing an Adele song without murdering everyone’s eardrums. In fact, it’s not only not bad; it’s pretty glorious. “When We Were Young” is one of the most well known songs off of 25, so it’s a big risk tackling something so big and taxing, but man alive does Jon nail it. He sounds good, with his supple tones and smart note choices, and, perhaps more importantly, he also manages to capture the emotion of the number — which means he’s confident enough in his voice to focus more on the mood than the melody. This is far and away his most impressive moment of the season, and it couldn’t come at a more critical time than now, when audiences don’t even know why he won his knockout since it was semi-montaged. Well played. So, so well played.
It’s hard not to get excited when Addison Agen is up to bat because she’s one of the few who’s really, to borrow a phrase from Jennifer Hudson, consistently “owning her moments” on The Voice. This girl is only 16 and has never had a single voice lesson (!!), and yet she knows exactly what she can and should do with every lyric of Bonnie Raitt’s “Angel from Montgomery.”
It’s not a carbon copy of the original — let’s face it, few have the right rasp to replicate anything by Bonnie — but she puts enough power and poetry behind her delivery that it all just flows into the crowd. This tune is right in her folksy, full-hearted wheelhouse, and she knows just when to pull back her volume and end on a subtle note. She’s also something of an enigma, style-wise, because there are moments where she sounds like she’s coming in with some “Norah Jones at the coffeehouse”-style sweetness, and in others, she’s got a deeper, more mature jazz sound. The fact that she’s equally compelling in either approach — even throwing both in the same line, at times — does speak to Addison’s unique offering for this competition going forward. She’s one to watch, here and in real life. Miley Cyrus was crazy to let her go, but Adam’s use of steals has obviously just been tops this season.
- Adam first chooses Addison Agen to stay because, he says, “it’d be disservice to planet Earth” to not see how far she can take this thing. Indeed.
- The second contestant to earn a pass to the next level is Jon Mero, who’s done enough tonight to prove there’s more to be heard from him.
- Last but not least, he opts to advance Adam Cunningham over Emily, Anthony, and Whitney. It’s the right call because, as much as he might believe in their chances and capabilities, Adam’s was the most cohesive and honest performance of these four tonight.
- Team Adam: Addison Agen, Jon Mero, Adam Cunningham
- Team Miley: Janice Freeman, Brooke Simpson, Ashland Craft, Moriah Formica, Adam Pearce
- Team Jennifer: Davon Fleming, Shi’Ann Jones, Noah Mac
- Team Blake: Keisha Renee, Red Marlow, Chloe Kohanski