Tuesday, November 12, 2013

“The Voice”—Top 12 – Recap

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Only one week away from the Top 10 performances, and everyone on The Voice is talented, yet so diverse, that it’s hard to figure who will go all the way. Last night, the Top 12 performed with two of them facing elimination tonight. For the first time this season, only the votes will decide who stays and who goes. The coaches no longer have any say or power to save. New this year, however, is the Instant Save. During the live elimination show, after the bottom three artists are revealed, viewers will have a few minutes to 'tweet-to-save' one of the artists. For full details on how the Instant Save will work, visit nbc.com/the-voice.

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Caroline Pennell was first up last night. CeeLo mentioned that “Caroline has stolen the hearts of America,” but he still wanted to try and bring a more energetic and up-tempo version of her to the stage, choosing “Wake Me Up” to do this.
It was an interesting performance, but I feel that certain elements didn’t match well with others. Hair and wardrobe gave her a more ‘grown-up’ look. The stage props were classy and elegant, matching her look, but the background images being flashed across screens behind her were in a style that one would probably find painted in kindergarden classrooms. These images were very distracting and conflicted too much with everything else.
Vocally, Caroline did nicely with the song CeeLo picked. He tried to push her out of her comfort zone, but it didn't fully work... maybe he's pushing too far too fast? Her voice is so unique and soft, and there were times where the hidden power in her voice did sneak out, and she sounded great. Unfortunately, there were more times where that power should have come out... and it tried... but didn’t quite get there.
Her voice is pure and simple, but Caroline needs to work on bringing that power we caught a glimpse of last night out more often if she wants to win this. She has the personality. She has the connection. She just needs to believe in herself a little more... Hopefully CeeLo can help her bring out what’s really inside her.

Josh Logan was up next and sang “Man in the Mirror.” Josh was saved last week by Christina, and I still question that decision. Josh started off slow and seemed a bit flat, but built up nicely before hitting the chorus. He holds his pitch really well, but falls short when trying to build the connection between himself, the song, and the audience. While he finished the song strongly and confidently, he came across as being stiff and distant for most of the song. I will admit, although, his performance last night was much better than last week’s... although I don’t think it was enough to save him this week.

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Team Adam’s James Wolpert took the stage with “Mr. Brightside.” James is very consistent with his performances, and last night was no exception. From the first note, his vocals were strong and very well controlled, and regardless of where he is in the register, his pitch is almost perfect. He takes the stage and just floods it with his personality and energy. You can’t help but become completely involved with him and the song. Last night, we saw James the rock-star, and like anything else, he took it on and made it work. It really was a great performance.

Austin Jenckes, who has often been labeled as a “passionate rocker” was given “It’s a Great Day to be Alive” as his song to perform. Blake Shelton wanted to make the show’s country music fan base become excited for Austin. Kind of ironic, don’t you think? Get rid of all the declared country artists, then try and form a connection between the country fans and someone who’s not really country... that may just backfire on Blake and Austin.
Austin took the song and added an incredible and workable country vibe into what is Austin Jenckes. He had great tone and pitch and has this ability to put so much of himself into the song that one can actually feel him through the lyrics... It's never mattered what song or what genre. He hit each one of his notes perfectly, and blew us away with his final big note. His control is nothing short of amazing.

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The youngest artist this year took the stage next with “Love is Blindness.” Coach Christina wanted Jacquie to add a little bit of “darkness” to her vocals... and that she did. Starting in the middle of the stage, with a camera doing a 360° spin around her, Jacquie flirted with the camera, as her dark and rough vocals worked up to an explosion of power at the chorus. She took the song and made it fun and personal, while showing her exceptional (and almost inhuman) range, power, and control. Her vocals go so far beyond her years that it’s almost impossible to remember that she is only sixteen years old. After the power in the chorus, she instantly dropped back down into the dark and low. The emotion shown was incredible. Jacquie became the song and earned a standing ovation from her coach. One of the best performances of the night!

Following that powerful performance was Ray Boudreaux. Blake wanted to see a softer and more soulful side of Ray and gave him “All of Me” to sing. The song choice worried Ray, as it was going to force him to open up and become more exposed.
It was a simple performance that was meant to expose his softer side. He sang a little lower than he has in the past and sounded pretty good. While he was technically okay (he did miss one note near the end), however, I didn’t feel he made the connection Blake was looking for. Ray sang mostly into the microphone or the stage and made very little contact with the audience. Oddly, Blake said it was great and worked well, but Christina disagreed (the first coach to actually critique the negative) and said it wasn’t that great of a performance. Whether you blame the song choice or just a lack of confidence, I think last night could be the end of the road for Ray.

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Kat Robichaud came on next and was able to “showcase the dynamic performer she is.” CeeLo picked the song “Sail” to bring back the rocker-Kat America seems to want. At the first note, she was completely in character for the song. She effortlessly worked the music and her body to bring the song to life on stage. Kat is really the only one to completely (and literally) get the audience involved with her performance. She always sings directly to them, and last night, took it even one (rather large) step further. Half way through the song, she let herself fall backwards into the audience and actually crowd surfed from one side of the stage to the other... amazingly, never missing a single note. She continued working every corner and space on the stage. The amount of energy she put into her performance was amazing and a true testament to her power and breath control. While technically not perfect, it was a great and well connected performance. Kat is nothing less than a true rocker.

Jonny Gray followed with “Another Day in Paradise.” Following Kat’s performance, this was much more subdued. Jonny did well in holding his pitch, but there is a weird kind of ‘vibration’ in his vocals that distract from the song. There were also a couple of moments during the song where the background vocals were too sharp and made it seem as though Jonny had missed his notes. Though not his fault, it definitely made you take notice. Overall, he may have focused too much on the technical aspect of the song and not enough on making the all-important connection needed to win over the audience.

Adam gave his “Grammy winning voice” Tessanne Chin “My Kind of Love” to show her power and range. Tessanne has such amazing depth to her vocals that you just fall into her. To enhance and showcase that depth, during the first verse, a reverb effect was added to a few of her lines. Normally, something like that takes away from the singers vocal ability, but with Tessanne, it amplified it. She combined total power with complete control and added it all to the emotion and passion she so easily emotes. Adam raved on and on about her performance... and rightfully so.

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Christina’s male power vocalist Matthew Schuler had next honors. Christina wanted to bring him back to his roots this week and chose “Hallelujah” for him to perform. The second he started to sing, everyone just froze... as though time had stopped. He would delicately build up to some amazing power notes before coming down to a very soft and emotionally filled chorus. His voice paralyzed everyone, and was the most beautiful performance of the night. There really are not many words to describe what he accomplished last night... it was just breathtaking. This performance alone probably solidified him a spot in the Top 3.

Cole Vosbury performed “Adorn” and showed an R&B side of himself. Working off the advice of Blake, Cole did the song without his guitar, and it was probably the best advice Blake could have given him. The guitar would not have fit with the song, and we were more able to focus on Cole and his voice. He adapted perfectly to the R&B feel and had just the right amount of ‘grit’ in his voice to make everything work. Without the guitar, his personality came out, and he became very emotionally connected to the song and with the audience. This was probably one of Cole’s best performances so far in the show... it even earned him a standing ovation from the coaches. It really is impressive that Cole only turned one chair during the Blinds but has grown to what he is now.

Closing out the show was Will Champlin singing “Demons.” Will actually surprised me last night. He started the song on the mini-round stage in the middle of the audience. It was a soft start, and he slowly and deliberately built up to the chorus. He had great control and his pitch was pretty much right on. The control he had when he hit his power note was impressive and solid. His performance was filled with passion and feeling and was much better than last week. I know I said last week that Will would be going home after this week, but this sole performance may have just saved him from that fate.

On a whole, the show was very energetic. The band did a great job. The lighting crew added a powerful element, and the coaches contributed to much of the entertainment value. All the artists did a fantastic job. When you get down to the Top 12, it is hard to pick winners, as they are all very talented and unique in their own way. But... I would have to say the top two performances from last night were Jacquie’s and Matthew’s. Both very different, but both equally amazing. On the other side of the coin, however, I’d say the bottom three of the night were Josh Logan, Jonny Gray, and Ray Boudreaux. I think the Instant Save will probably be used on Ray... ending the journey for Josh and Jonny.

What do you think?

Download Jacquie's and Matthew's amazing song performances from iTunes


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Who caught your ear? Who’s your favorite? What do you think? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you that Ray Boudreaux was not one of the better performances of the night, but his song is doing well on iTunes and he has a decent-sized social media following, so I don't think he will be in danger. If you check the buzz he is receiving on Twitter, it's a lot of marriage proposals from female fans -- hilarious but these are serious voters, for sure. I think it will be Austin Jenckes in the bottom three with Jonny and Josh, with Jonny getting the Twitter save and Josh going home.

    Thanks for your thoughtful recaps, I enjoy reading them every week. :)

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