The Voice recap: Cutthroat Season is (Almost) Upon Us
Well, well, well, we’re not quite into the most cutthroat elimination phase of The Voice yet (that comes next week), but with two singers being sent home this week ahead of the semi-finals, well, the stakes are becoming pretty high for everyone, and their performances seem to reflect as much. Some of the singers might’ve seemed like low-hanging fruit after finding themselves in the bottom two in previous weeks, but clearly, they’re not giving up on themselves just yet. Meanwhile, others have been middling at best and decide tonight’s the perfect time to step back up in a big way.
Let’s walk through tonight’s performances and try to figure out who’s here to stay ’til next week, then, shall we?
Team Blake: Kyla Jade
“This is Me” by Keala Settle
There’s no doubt that Kyla Jade has been on a roll these past few weeks. While others have either remained stagnant, too chaotic, or gone downhill, she’s been churning out her power week after week, and tonight is no different. This song in particular bears a particular personal significance for her, since she’s long been grappling with confidence issues inside and out, but despite the emotional wreckage that’s caused by her singing it, this is her most steady showcase yet, vocally. Blake Shelton is right; it’s hard to see how she doesn’t advance after offering up this much of herself and her skill.
Team Kelly: Kaleb Lee
“Boondocks” by Little Big Town
I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Kaleb Lee’s style over the season. On the one hand, he’s been consistently apt to change up his rhythm and volume to avoid being repetitive, which is smart, but on the other, he’s allowed himself to sound very ordinary and dry on a few too many occasions. Tonight, he’s chosen a song that he considers his “secret weapon” because it’s up-tempo and allows him to be more playful with the melody. Indeed, there is something a little more authentic about his apparent connection to the song, and it continues to prove he’s chosen the right lane of music, rather than going for some soft rock persuasion that might also suit his scratchy tones but would put him more squarely in competition with Pryor Baird.
Team Adam: Jackie Verna
“Love Triangle” by RaeLynn
Jackie Verna is at a disadvantage right away because she clearly doesn’t feel as attached to the lyrical or personality properties of her song — and that LSD butterfly garden stage setting isn’t doing much to get her there, either. However, she seems to instead concentrate on technique, which is effective enough. As she and her coach decide, her ethereal head voice game is usually her strongest suit, so she decides to linger in that high space the whole song long, and as long as she hits the right notes, it’s pretty and delicate enough to be fine. It’d be nice if she had the control to work through her whole range more easily, but Adam believes it’s “understated elegance” she’s got on display here. We’ll just have to wait and see if she’s waved through to the semifinals on this or if she becomes another RaeLynn and gets sent home early.
Team Adam: Rayshun LaMarr
“Mr. Jukes” by Grant Green ft. Charles Bradley
If this show were called, say, The Entertainer, Rayshun LaMarr would be a shoo-in for the winner’s circle, but, alas, it’s called The Voice, so he’s still got some work to do. Granted, his sunny Sunday worship leader aesthetic is still on full display here with this number, but I worry that we might be starting to get into same-old-same-old territory with these tap-happy tempos. It’d be nice to hear something a little softer, if only to mix it up a bit and keep voters interested. With this, it feels like we’ve heard all there is to hear from him.
Team Blake: Spensha Baker
“Red” by Taylor Swift
This song might feel a little foreign to Spensha Baker, since she’s not used to the pop scene at all, but given Taylor Swift’s own country background, this is hardly a massive leap from that comfort zone. If anything, this song offers just enough of a breakaway from the twangy genre to show off something a little more emotionally resonant than we usually get to hear from her, and while she’s still not the most polished singer of this bunch, this is definitely one of her better musical moments on the show. Whether it’s enough to get her through to another round remains to be seen. (Recap continues on next page)
Team Alicia: Jackie Foster
“Gravity” by Sara Bareilles
Alicia Keys said she wanted to show off a more tender side of Jackie Foster, and honestly, it’s a good thing because she didn’t do the pretend grunge girl thing so well. This performance is a slow burner, with musicianship and the requirement for an internal investment to give it some, well, gravity, and lo and behold, Jackie Foster has pulled it off. The Jack Pack should be proud of their girl for delivering a lovely, tonally astute rendition of this number tonight.
Team Alicia: Britton Buchanan
“What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Tina Turner
How. About. This. Britton Buchanan hasn’t been at the top of his game lately, but this song might single-handedly restore his good will for the season. It’s a clever divergence for him from the usual lane of late ’80s storyteller-singers (I fully expected to hear him do Bryan Adams or Meatloaf tonight, not gonna lie), but it works so, so well. Perhaps it’s his stripped-down rendition that requires no bells, whistles, or even screamy notes to pay proper homage to the originator without being some half-hearted carbon copy. The style here is stacked, and it’s gonna be hard for Britton Buchanan to top this level of performance maturity going forward, which he will do.
Team Alicia: Christiana Danielle
“Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers
Speaking of excellence, Christiana Danielle is also having a pretty killer night. It’s pretty hard to believe that the woman who found herself in the bottom two last night is delivering one of the most riveting performances of the Top 11 now, but here we are. Consistency has always been the question mark looming over her head because when she’s on, she’s on. If only she could maintain this level of steeze and grace, she’d be a frontrunner right now instead of the surprise runaway of the evening. I honestly can’t decide what’s better: the playful way she owns the stage and works with the band, the Met Gala-ready costumery, or the random riffs she takes with the lyrics, but it’s all very good stuff.
Team Blake: Pryor Baird
“My Town” by Montgomery Gentry
At this point, there’s really nothing left to say about Pryor Baird. To me, his voice often sounds like Eric Cartman on South Park when he’s yelling at the kitty about his pot pie, but the guy has done well enough on this show to prove there’s a market for this particular sound. Last week’s performance was perhaps his most convincing of the season, but this is right in line with everything else that’s kept him here so long. He’s the Red Marlow of this season, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see him in the finale.
Team Kelly: Brynn Cartelli
“Fix You” by Coldplay
It’s easy to forget that Brynn Cartelli is just a teenager when she sings because she does have a much older cadence than one might expect from a high schooler. Tonight, she does her best to close out the night on a convincing note, and for the most part, she succeeds at reminding us of those impressive low notes and unique songbird style of hers. The somber nature of the song choice is a bit too similar to what Jackie Foster pulled off earlier, though, so we’ll have to see which one of these women audiences are more impressed with.
- It might seem like a gimme that Rayshun LaMarr and Christiana Danielle would both be on the chopping block this week, since they’ve both had to sing for the instant save already. But I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Christiana makes it through without a fight. If we had to rank the night’s performances in order of whose was the most captivating, hers would easily be in the top three.
- As much as I personally enjoyed it, I think Spensha Baker is also going to be on the fence after this because she had one of the most technically unstable takes of the whole night.
- Rayshun LaMarr and Spensha Baker will go home.
Team Adam: Rayshun LaMarr, Jackie Verna
Team Alicia: Britton Buchanan, Jackie Foster, Christiana Danielle
Team Kelly: Brynn Cartelli, Kaleb Lee
Team Blake: Kyla Jade, Pryor Baird, Spensha Baker