Team Blake: Keisha Renee
“All By Myself” by Celine Dion
Keisha Renee really needed a big moment tonight, and, well, she got it. Coming into this round, she was dangerously close to boxing herself into that country-meets-gospel fluency that made her such a standout in earlier rounds. So, instead of note-running her way through another such number, she makes the very good decision to go for something we haven’t heard from her in a while: a stoic, withdrawn melody that doesn’t require her to play with the note runs quite so much.
And credit to Blake Shelton for advising her to, contrary to the message behind the lyrics, go it mostly alone on stage, because she’s got this and doesn’t need any help. The performance is lovely and new and everything she needed to achieve.
Team Miley: Ashland Craft
“I Hate Myself for Loving You” by Joan Jett
Yawn. Sorry, but Ashland Craft is out of her league at this point. It’s not that there’s anything technically wrong with her voice, but she doesn’t pack much of a punch. From her droll delivery here to the fact that she doesn’t play a single power note in what should be a slam-dunk jamfest, it’s just ho-hum.
Team Miley: Brooke Simpson
Doing hymnals on this kind of stage can be tricky business, especially when it’s a song that reminds a lot of us of funerals. And in the first verse, when Brooke goes the traditional, somber route with her delivery, this performance is groan-inducing. But by verse two she’s supported by some soft but effective instrumentals, and her voice becomes absolutely angelic.
Miley says the goal is to do the song “like Coldplay,” but thankfully, that’s not what Brooke does. At all. She does it like Brooke Simpson, and it pays off. She’s still taking us all to church, but she’s refusing to make us feel bad about the weight of these lyrics. She’s singing with joy and vigor, and it’s all the more enthralling because of that. Some people have questioned Brooke Simpson’s longevity in this competition, but if she keeps managing to subvert all expectations week after week, she might just be stating her case for the finals.
“That’s What I Love About Sunday” by Craig Morgan
Please, someone cry uncle. If it wasn’t clear before tonight that Red Marlow’s skill set is too limited to keep going in this competition, it is now. This was easily his worst performance of the season: shaky, pitchy, and flat all at the same time.
Last week, Red dominated the iTunes downloads with his rendition of Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” — and he did a very decent job with it. But unfortunately, his take on “That’s What I Love About Sunday” sounded more like open mic night at the local saloon. Compared to the other acts that bookend his performance, even he seems to know this was a very weak showcase.
Team Adam: Addison Agen
“Lucky” by Britney Spears
Sigh. I want to like this, I do — because Addison Agen is so easy to like, and she’s been so roundly delightful all season. Her achy, timeless voice is a treat to listen to. But this rendition lacks the compelling element of her prior performances, and that may have something to do with this song choice.
We’ve heard stripped-down Britney Spears songs do wonders before — hey, even Britney’s brought out her own retooled numbers to surprise fans from time to time. But “Lucky” isn’t one of Britney’s most recognizable hits, so hearing it stretched so thin like this takes away the power of the adaptation. And Addison may have been feeling clever about showing up in jeans and one of Britney’s signature newsboy caps, but by doing so she’s again concealed the song’s meaning. What we’re left with instead is her desperately trying to sell us on her sad tones, and compared to everything else, it’s just a little too spare.
- It’s time for Red Marlow and Ashland Craft to be in the bottom, but somehow I don’t think they both will. Ashland seems to have a less fervent fan base, so she’s probably more likely to land in the bottom.
- Davon Fleming and Shi’Ann Jones are also questionable. Both are so vocally gifted but don’t always make the greatest choices with their notes and runs. I’d say Shi’Ann is more likely to face elimination than Davon is tomorrow night.
- Adam Cunningham has probably done enough to earn a spot in the next round on merit, but then again, I’ve said that before.
- Chloe Kohanski, Addison Agen, Brooke Simpson, and Keisha Renee belong in the finale, but Noah Mac could take the place of one of the last two.
- Team Adam: Addison Agen, Adam Cunningham
- Team Miley: Brooke Simpson, Ashland Craft
- Team Jennifer: Davon Fleming, Shi’Ann Jones, Noah Mac
- Team Blake: Keisha Renee, Red Marlow, Chloe Kohanski