There’s always a little bit of danger involved when fans choose their favorite singers’ next performance piece because it can either be so much in their wheelhouse as to be boring and repetitive or so out of left field that it exposes flaws they’ve been trying to cover up. Best case scenario, it’s a song that showcases something great that we just hadn’t seen from them yet, and let’s just say that last alternative really only happens a couple of times tonight.
Here’s a run-down of The Voice‘s Top 11 performances.
Dave Fenley — “Use Me” by Bill Withers
Yeah, so, this is weird. It’s been easy to forget that when we first met Dave Fenley, he introduced us to his beat-boxing skills because he has kept that talent quiet ever since. Tonight, though, he’s brought it back into the fold as he spices up this already-funky fan-selected number. On the one hand, he seems quite into it and there are parts where it lets his deep rasp rip. However, it’s also a pretty messy package overall, and it’s hard to believe this will win over anyone who’s been on the fence about him before this round. Whatever happened to that bustling “balladeer”?
Chevel Shepherd — “Space Cowboy” by Kacey Musgraves
In addition to her sharp, twangy tones, there are a lot of intangibles going for Chevel Shepherd — she’s so poised and confident that she makes everything she does look and sound easy. This song once again shows off that simpering reverb quality she’s got going on which made her such a nice match for the Dixie Chicks song a few weeks back. This performance doesn’t offer us anything new of her, but it doesn’t undermine anything she’s done before either.
Reagan Strange — “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne
She might be delighted that her fans have chosen this song for her, but Reagan Strange shouldn’t thank them just yet. The quick tempo and repetitive lyrics leave her out of breath by the end, and that’s not even the worst part. The chorus might be a good match for her, but the verses are well below her ordinary range, so she’s practically slow-talking her way through the bulk of the song. There’s a point where she tries to change it up and sing through those verses instead, and it just makes me wish she’d have altered the entire arrangement to make a snugglier fit. She’s at her best when she breaks away from the original melody here anyway.
Kymberli Joye — “Break Every Chain” by Tasha Cobb
Funny how it’s taken the fan selection round for Kymberli Joye to bring us a piece of what she really wants to do after this show. This gospel number is a papa bear-sized church ballad, and her voice is the perfect size to fit it. Before this week, she’s been experimenting quite a bit with pop, R&B, and even rock and roll, but this brings out an intensity that’s hard to top. There’s a line in there when she seems to be talking to herself: “Do you have your power tonight?” And the answer to that is “Ayup.”
Kirk Jay — “Body Like a Back Road” by Sam Hunt
You can tell Kirk Jay is starting to believe his own hype because there’s absolutely no evidence of nerves on display with this performance. He starts out on the keyboard like with his breakthrough night at the knockouts, but he also wants to show off some stage swagger as he glides through this peppy number with his velvety tones quite nicely. He does seem to throw in a few too many unnecessary runs, but for the most part, this is another solid installment of the “Kirk Jay is the modern country singer Blake Shelton’s been looking for” sub-show he’s had going on all season.
Chris Kroeze — “Long Train Runnin'” by the Doobie Brothers
He may prefer to play around in the country genre, but classic rock is obviously just a better match for Chris Kroeze. Granted, he has a lot of help here from the background singers, but his soft rasp is well served with this easy-going anthem. It would be interesting, though, to hear him try to take on a more soulful number next time — maybe something from the Stevie Wonder or Elton John collectives?
Lynnea Moore — “Consequences” by Camilla Cabello
Welp. Kelsea Ballerini was right that Lynnea Moore can do anything, and she’s proving that all at once tonight. Lynnea does have several different tonal strengths, but when she squeezes them all into a single verse, it’s disorienting and unpleasant. It’s choppy and sloppy, and if she could just hone in on one approach per song, she’d be so much better off.
MaKenzie Thomas — “Emotions” by the BeeGees (in the style of the Destiny’s Child cover)
Meanwhile, MaKenzie Thomas also has a lot of options when she sings because she can do the big bustling ballads or she can play it a little closer to the chest, coasting through her delicate head voice. Tonight, the fans have chosen the latter for her, giving her a song that pretty much requires her to lean into her falsetto groove. It’s relatively drama-free and pretty enough to keep MaKenzie’s fans clicking away for sure. By her going right after Lynnea, too, it really shows off how well she can stick to one thing per night.
Sarah Grace — “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + the Machine
Here’s another singer who knows how to play to her strengths. Sarah Grace might not have the same haunted tones as Florence Welch, but she does have her own version of a tortured old soul vibe going on, so she lays into that pout and gives this about as good of a cover as she could.
DeAndre Nico — “Cry for You” by Jodeci
According to Adam Levine, this song is “in his spirit,” and DeAndre Nico certainly does seem to be feeling himself with this piece. In the rehearsals, he’s as confident as can be, even if he’s tripping over his upper range quite a bit. He still struggles to glide between his notes in the live performance, but Jennifer Hudson and Adam Levine are both transported back to the early ’90s, even if there’s not as much smoothness on display as there might’ve been back then. It’s … okay? Just okay.
Kennedy Holmes — “Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston
There she is. In the blind auditions, Kennedy Holmes was an instant stand-out, and ever since then, well, she’s still been coasting through just fine, but we haven’t had the same kind of ~moment~ from her. Tonight she’s back to breaking away, though. Sure, it’s a little uninspired to default to Whitney Houston’s music to make a statement, but since she can do this one so well, it’s a good call on the fans’ part. Kennedy’s vocal strength is very well served by this piece, and she closes out this otherwise very meh night with a capable power punch.
Prediction: Lynnea Moore goes home tomorrow night. She’s already been in the bottom three, and this was a wash. Dave Fenley may also be in trouble.
Adam Levine – DeAndre Nico, Reagan Strange.
Blake Shelton – Kirk Jay, Chris Kroeze, Dave Fenley.
Kelly Clarkson – Chevel Shepherd, Sarah Grace, Kymberli Joye, Lynnea Moore.
Jennifer Hudson – MaKenzie Thomas, Kennedy Holmes.
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