The Voice recap: 'The Live Playoffs, Night 2'
The live playoffs continue.
After all 24 contestants were squished into one two-hour-long showcase to open the lives, tonight we’re slowing things down a bit — but just a bit — to hear some more from Team Blake and Team Alicia. Two more contestants from each squad will be voted through to the Top 12, which means three from each will be sent home. So, does this new round of performances merit a few prediction adjustments?
Let’s take a look at how these 10 remaining hopefuls did in the second live round of The Voice.
Spensha Baker – “Smoke Break” by Carrie Underwood
After last night’s near miss, Spensha Baker needed to come through with a more organic song choice, and yes, this is close to what I mean. I still think she’d be better served with maybe a slower Shania Twain number or even a throwback Amy Grant hit, but this is much better than last night. That said, it’s a little too fast in the verses for us to really hear her, although she does try to make up for that by projecting her power in the chorus notes. I do think she’s better than average, but between this and last night’s performance, she’s been very middle-of-the-road this week.
Wilkes – “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt
THIS. I really wanted to hear something different from Wilkes after last night because I’ve been rooting for this guy all season, and tonight, he answers the call with a song that stretches his range to its outer perimeters and gives us some new attitude along the way as well. From the on-key rock star riffs to the accidental mic drop-gone-right to that final, sick note, Wilkes has definitely shown that he has a strong voice that could easily carry some original music onto the radio waves. It’s easy to overlook him because he makes it look so easy, but this guy is the real deal and has been since the beginning of the season.
Pryor Baird – “Nine to Five” by Dolly Parton
Here we go again. Pryor Baird begins, carries, and ends his song at full-tilt volume. It’s just the way he operates. His gravelly, Bob Seger-meets-Michael McDonald voice is kind of like a gimmick at this point. There’s nothing wrong with it, and it’s actually quite good for a little while, but it’s hard to imagine wanting more than what he delivers here tonight. One song is enough, and indeed, that’s exactly what it feels like he’s delivered this season because everything sounds the same.
Austin Giorgio – “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber
Credit is due to Austin Giorgio here for stepping well outside of his comfort zone to bring us something a little less obvious. Given his doowop drawl, this may very well have been excellent if the tempo of the arrangement was slowed just a hair, but still, not a bad effort. I’m still not sure he stacks up well enough to his competition here, but this was at least an entertaining, and unexpected moment, even if it’s greeted with Alicia Key’s kiss of death speech about her seeing his spirit and inner light shining through rather than any compliments on the technical side.
Gary Edwards – “America the Beautiful”
After Kyla Jade slid through on a familiar hymnal last night, Gary Edwards is getting in on the stunt game with this song that’s bound to make everyone take their hats off and stand at patriotic attention. Like Kyla, he’s not just spouting off a traditional, boring version of this; he’s throwing in his own church-ready runs and scattered power notes. It’s a little much, sure, but this may be a smart move to play upon a deeper emotional evocation for the voters to latch onto.
New prediction: Wilkes and Gary Edwards advance to the Top 12.
Terrence Cunningham – “Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan
Oof. It’s not a great sign for anyone when the coaches have to start convincing voters at home that someone deserves to stay, since their performance (or, in Terrence Cunningham’s case, his last few performances) didn’t convince people already. The idea here is solid: slowing down a feel-good favorite that everyone knows into an intimate piano rendition before launching into the whole thing. It’s what he did in the blinds, too. But Terrence inserts a little too much artistry into the opening of this thing and renders it practically unrecognizable. Then, when the original version does burst through in verse two, he fades into the background vocals and overproduction of the show.
Christiana Danielle – “Take Me to Church” by Hozier
Considering she already had some Hozier-esque moments in her performance last night, this song selection is more than appropriate for her, and for the first few moments, she’s an absolute dead ringer for the original here. In that instance, it’s clear how powerful and developed her low tones are, and even her little crackle on the way up the scale is lovely. Once she get to the mid-range it’s a little bit messier, and we’ll have to see if she’ll lose some voters with her second-half spin-out. It’s possible, considering the depth of this squad.
Jackie Foster – “Alone” by Heart
OKAY JACKIE FOSTER. I’d pretty much written her off after her perplexing song choice last night that seemed like she was just giving it away, but this is much, much better. Sure, we’ve heard some version of this song a hundred times before, but that does nothing to take away just how clutch her note reach is tonight. No one, not even Alicia Keys herself, was expecting her to pull off those iconic screams.
Kelsea Johnson – “Need U Bad” by Jazmine Sullivan
Compared to her exciting delivery last night, this is a snooze. Coach Alicia Keys might be enraptured by Kelsea Johnson’s individuality and unique spirit and bravery in making such an obscure song choice as this, but it’s not her who needs to be convinced tonight. Her performance, technically, is fine enough albeit a little empty in spots, but this is more the kind of easy-listening music you zone out to on an AM channel than the next pop-jazz hit.
Johnny Bliss – “One and Only” by Adele
Last night, Johnny Bliss bravely sung a non-English song, but this time he’s going a little more mainstream. Sure, this isn’t the same Adele song that’s done ad nauseum on this show, but it’s familiar enough for her fans to pique someone’s interest. And his rendition of it is, let’s say, half good. There are a lot of spots with pitch problems and a lot of parts that are right on point. When it’s good, it’s good. When it’s not, it’s not. I don’t think it’s enough to see him through, but this has not been a bad week of showings for Johnny Bliss by any means.
New prediction: Christiana Danielle does indeed advance over Kelsea Johnson, and Jackie Foster comes through with the surprise green light? Terrence hasn’t done enough here tonight, sorry.
Team Adam: Sharane Calister, Rayshun LaMarr, Drew Cole, Mia Boostrom, Reid Umstattd, Jackie Verna
Team Alicia: Britton Buchanan, Kelsea Johnson, Christiana Danielle, Johnny Bliss, Terrence Cunningham, Jackie Foster
Team Kelly: Brynn Cartelli, D.R. King, Alexa Cappelli, Tish Haynes Keys, Kaleb Lee, Dylan Hartigan
Team Blake: Kyla Jade, Pryor Baird, Austin Giorgio, Spensha Baker, Wilkes, Gary Edwards