Team Adam: Adam Cunningham
“American Girl” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
After having to rely on the instant save to stick around last week, Adam Cunningham has a lot to prove, and like most of the others here, he’s gifted with a smart song selection that fits his personality and strengths like a glove. For all his faults before — what with the butchered timing and inability to reach that upper register — he really has no trouble at all pounding out this piece with a precision that should please Petty’s fanbase.
This song also seems to broaden Adam’s horizons a bit on song choices going forward. I can now imagine him picking up something by Dave Matthews, O.A.R., or even the Counting Crows to try to break out of his box. He still struggles with the higher notes at times (and someone should really just tell him he doesn’t need to yell to emote), but his full voice actually rounds out the hook here in ways that are surprisingly pleasant. Subtlety is the key for Adam, I think, and this is the closest he’s come to that lately.
Team Miley: Brooke Simpson
“What About Us” by Pink
Brooke Simpson’s voice is undeniably powerful, and when we actually do get to hear her here, it’s also increasingly lovely and tempered. But the trouble is that this showcase’s attempt to pay tribute to her Haliwa-Saponi tribe with the drum tables and backup vocals (or perhaps pre-recorded audio?) drowns her out so often that all we get to hear is her attempting to overshadow it all.
And it’s a shame she’s so hard to hear because this, too, is a workable match for Brooke’s style and sound — especially in that last little verse, where everything else is dropped off and we’re left with just Brooke navigating the landing. I wanted to hear more of those notes.
Team Jennifer: Davon Fleming
“I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston
Aye, aye, aye. While it was exactly this kind of octave hot-potato play that differentiated Davon Fleming from Chris Weaver in the playoffs, it’s not working quite so well for him tonight. For starters, the soft-sung falsetto intro seems forced and unnatural for Davon. And then, when we finally get to his full voice with the chorus, it’s only a line or two before he’s switching to another key. By the end of it, we’ve heard four different Davon Fleming songs at once, and the transition is just too severe to enjoy.
The coaches are blown right out of the water — in fact, Adam Levine talks out of turn to call this a “miracle” — and I might agree with them if his chorus competence were the defining factor of the whole shebang, but alas.
Team Miley: Ashland Craft
“Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band
After last week’s decision to go with “Delta Dawn” over this new-age country favorite (and the sample audiences got to hear of what might’ve been), it makes sense that this would be the song selected for Ashland this time. When she’s got just a guitar and her microphone-free pipes in the rehearsal footage, the results are quite lovely and low key.
On stage, though, the over-production is real. From her tasseled denim duds, dripping head to toe, to the actual bales of hay scattered across the porch, there’s so much genre pandering going on that I can hardly pay attention to her voice at times. When it’s just her and the microphone, with everything else out of the way, the texture and sophistication of Ashland’s voice is displayed well. Otherwise, this performance is far from extraordinary.
Team Adam: Addison Agen
“A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell
The upshot of singing a song that’s not as mainstream as others is that it probably does ramp up her download potential. And her coach is right that Addison has the same kind of cozy vocal countenance and authenticity that’s bound to draw people in to listen to whatever she’s willing to sing for them.
Tonight, her jazzy mid voice is especially strong, but she also trickles in some well-placed high notes that keep the tune from being too monotonous. Although Carson Daly isn’t employed here for his commentary, even he can’t contain his unbridled enthusiasm for Addison Agen’s voice, saying, “Great is great.” I wouldn’t say this was her best performance, but it was vulnerable and genuine enough to keep her fans interested (and voting). (Recap continues on page 3)