The Voice is now down to 8 and dwindling fast. Two more singers go home tonight. The coaches are finding less and less to say that is critical of the contestants. Christina seems to be the only one pointing out tiny problems, though piled in with a hefty helping of praise. She’s really trying to make her last contestant, Dez, seem to be the guy to beat. He’s not, but we’ll get to that soon. And by soon, I mean now.
Here are the performances from last night rated from worst to best.
Though I love Cody Belew’s showmanship, and think, of all the people in the competition, he has the tightest grasp of who he wants to be as an artist, his performance of Queen’s “Somebody to Love” was his worst so far on the show. Queen is certainly dead center in what Cody’s repertoire should be, but there are better songs in the Queen library to show how great Cody can be. If he had the chance to do it again, he’d be better picking something from the “Highlander” soundtrack like “Who Wants to Live Forever”. His voice was occasionally overwhelmed by the music/chorus/complex arrangement.
Next worst for me, though a stellar rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”, was Nicholas David. The guy has the perfect voice for way over-done classics. However, there’s nothing in the arrangements or in his take on the classics to make them any less classic and more current. Though older songs are usually better than current songs, something has to be done to bring them into the 21st century.
Terry McDermott’s rock take on Blake Shelton’s “Over” really tried to impress, but it was not Terry’s best night. From the start, he seemed unsure on stage. When he got into the song and pulled it together, it was almost something worthy of radio play, but it never got good enough to overcome the weak start.
Trevin Hunte’s return to the power ballads seemed like he was falling back into his comfort zone. But his inexperience was clear several times in his performance of Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All”. I don’t quite think he did the song justice. A for effort. I’m sure he’s selling thousands on iTunes. It will only take time and practice for him to be less rough around the edges.
Justin Beiber songs are great for appealing to the tweeners and teens. I can’t get anything out of Dez Duron’s singing JB’s “U Smile”. I can’t find any flaws with it, just not something that appeals to me. The sob story about how no one respected how he dropped out of Yale to pursue music just didn’t even come close to pulling at heartstrings.
The three girls left in the competition carried the night.
Though taking on current songs, Melanie Martinez is darned good at making anything she sings her own. Everyone is familiar with Alex Clare’s “Too Close”. I mean we were inundated with it for months of Internet Explorer 9 ads. But Melanie made it new and fresh. It was also refreshing to see the new and improved foot cymbal.
Amanda Brown also went with a current song in Adele’s “Someone Like You”. She spun it into a rock version and killed it. It wasn’t as good as her “Dream On” moment, but it was good. Amanda is consistent and that might be enough to keep her through to win this thing.
Topping my list for the second week straight is Cassadee Pope with Michelle Branch’s “Are You Happy Now”. She didn’t completely own it; much of it sounded very close to the original. Some of it was pure Cassadee, however. THe song is just old enough to be a great song choice. What makes this the best of the night was the perfect fit for Cassadee and her flawless execution. Last weeks performance will be hard to top as the best for any contestant for the season, so she doesn’t lose any points for not accomplishing that. I would love to see her actually perform a Hey Monday song on The Voice like “I Don’t Wanna Dance” or take on Paramore’s “Misery Business”.
I’m done with Nicholas, Dez and Trevin, and if I had my druthers, two of them would be going home tonight. But I’m showing my age by using words like “druthers” and for not liking Dez more. But, I suspect the two leaving tonight will be Cody and Terry.
I will say that the Producers of the show are either excellent prognosticators or good manipulators. In the blind auditions, they put the “best” acts in the first or last slot for each show. Five of the current eight were either the first or last performer for one of the blind audition shows. Even acknowledging that they might have known the top 20 at the time of the blind audition broadcast, picking 5 of the top 8 is impressive. But, there are ways to manipulate an audience…
During the voting shows, the best place to be is the last performer of the night. That’s almost always a natural boost to receiving votes. I call it the “pimp” spot. Being first is often being forgotten. I call that the “death” spot. So far, everyone who’s performed first on a voting night has gone home when the results came in. Hopefully Amanda will break that cycle.
Side Note: Adriana Louise and Sylvia Yacoub were also “first” performances in the blind auditions, but made the top 12 but not the top 8.