The Voice’s 13th season has been so weird.
We’re down to the top 10 contestants, and yet there are still some very visible (or should I say audible) weak spots in this lineup. While we’ve got a couple of clear frontrunners who would really have to blow it to find themselves evicted before the finale, there are also a couple of singers who’ve managed to stick around much longer than expected.
Tonight, those divisions become even clearer as this season’s endgame starts to present itself.
Team Jennifer: Davon Fleming
“Hurt” by Christina Aguilera
The coaches seem a little nervous about Davon Fleming’s prospects this season, and based on this particular performance, it’s not hard to see why. In his full voice, Davon’s tone is crushingly good. But when he reaches back to that head voice — all too often — for some softer notes, it’s jarringly amateur.
He’s got great note control and punches through those escalations like it’s nothing, but we’re still not getting a comprehensive sound from Davon. His falsetto is crazy, as evidenced by those last few notes, and combined with his church-ready run style, he’s a force. But when he throws in those whimper-whisper moments, it’s deflating.
Team Adam: Adam Cunningham
“Maybe It Was Memphis” by Pam Tillis
OKAY, ADAM CUNNINGHAM. After two back-to-back weeks in the bottom two — eking out victories against very strong contestants — Adam’s on a mission to prove he doesn’t belong in the bottom this time. He’s going back to his country roots with an old favorite, and this song seems like a tragic match on paper because Pam Tillis’ trilling vocals were what made this song so untouchable. And yet Adam does it.
He pulls out his best Chris Stapleton impression and slaughters this song, progressively getting better throughout. His ordinarily irritating tendency to screech when he wants to sound powerful is virtually nonexistent (mercy!), and instead he finds a legitimate connection with the song in a way we haven’t seen from him before. Adam stepped up his game in a big way tonight. Whether it’s the song choice or his urgency to prove himself, it’s hard to know; he’s not pulling magic rabbits out of the hat so much as he is committing to the moment and hitting the right notes in the right places. Well played.
Team Jennifer: Noah Mac
“Ordinary World” by Duran Duran
In theory, this is the perfect song for Noah Mac: It’s got all that raw tension and air of importance that seems to mark his preferred performance style. So there’s no rearrangement necessary, right? Ha. No, he still has to make the instrumentals sound like they’re fit for a modern dance recital.
Noah really is some fierce-eyed transplant from the world of Pretty in Pink, and he this time leans hard into his deep, almost angry delivery of lyrics that make him sound like he’s auditioning for the Breakfast Club soundtrack. He’s incredibly serious and seems to have something to say that even he can’t quite discern yet, but, as Jennifer Hudson puts it, it’s “captivating” enough to carry him through, and fans are obviously all about Noah Mac right now.
Team Jennifer: Shi’Ann Jones
“Diamonds” by Rihanna
Shi’Ann Jones is one of those contestants you can’t help but root for, even if she’s not quite as polished as she’d need to be to take this to the next level. A few months of vocal lessons could really teach her what note to hit and when, because her range is not an issue. Instead, it’s her instinct to float around from one side of the note spectrum to the next at random. It’s a little exhausting to hear her linger on a high note, only to drop to her lowest register in the same breath, just for the sake of surprise.
As Blake Shelton points out, too, Shi’Ann’s got a lot of “character” in those sobby low notes, and she emotes with real heart. Frankly, this isn’t her best showcase, but it’s also not her worst. In a cutthroat situation, I don’t see how she keeps advancing, but this might be enough to keep her around for at least this round. We’ll see.
Team Blake: Chloe Kohanski
“Call Me” by Blondie
Far and away the frontrunner of the season thanks to her ridiculous iTunes download numbers and consistent strength on the stage, Chloe Kohanski already seems to be a shoo-in for the finale. So right now, she’s just having fun with her view from the top, checking song titles off her “bucket list” for this show. “Call Me” is one of those unapologetically forward female anthems, so in addition to landing all the notes, Chloe proves tonight that she can throw some physicality behind the music.
There’s nothing to say about tonight’s performance that hasn’t been said before; her haunting low notes are strong, and her ability to glide into rocker growls shows she’s got the finishing of a much more seasoned performer. More importantly, her sound is something that calls back to a very empowering moment in music, and now’s as good a time for that to be revived as ever. Let’s just call it here and now: She’s probably going to win this thing if she keeps making decisions that are true to herself like this. (Recap continues on page 2)