Tuesday, December 10, 2013

“The Voice”—Semi-Finals – Recap (And Finale Predictions)

It was no surprise when Matthew was sent home last week, and this week the eliminations are pretty straightforward again. After last night’s show, the voting was opened to determine the Top 3 artists who will move on to next week’s Finale. There will be no Instant Save... For the first time this season, the ‘true’ bottom artists will go home.

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The show opened with the Top 5 performing “Best Day of My Life.” It was very well done and set us up for what would be coming throughout the hour. Will was actually much more ‘animated’ tonight. James was his usual self, and Cole was Cole but seemed to have some technical issues (I’m guessing), as his voice had a subtle, but weird, electronic hum... fortunately, whatever it was, it was corrected fast and really only affected his first verse.
Tessanne brought her lovely accent, and Jacquie was softer and ‘keyed’ down, which really let her vocals shine through. Both the girls were glowing, and it almost felt as though it was a Jacquie and Tessanne number with the three guys playing backup.

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James was the first solo performance of the evening and sang “With or Without You.” He started with deeper vocals than we are used to from him and gradually worked up from there. His tone and pitch was well controlled, but his stage work wasn’t the best. The mood of the song just didn’t match what he was doing during his rendition. So, while the technical aspect of his vocals were great, I don’t think his performance aspect will be enough to advance him to the finals.

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Up next was Will with “Carry On.” Adam wanted to give him a very dynamic song in the hopes that Will can let go mentally and just have fun with the song. He came on without his glasses, which did give him a whole new feel. While Will did have a few minor issues with controlling his voice in the lower key at the beginning, by the time he hit the chorus and brought it up a bit, he was killing it. For the first time this season, Will actually showed some personality on stage. He was more alive and even smiled a few times. My main critique of his performance would be with his falsetto at the end of the song. He hit and held it nicely, but it wasn’t the right time in the song for it... it made for an oddly awkward finish. Will is a very talented singer who is finally showing some personality. Last night was a turning point for him, and should be enough to put him in the Final 3.

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Christina chose “Angel” for Jacquie. She wanted her to be more emotional and inspirational in her delivery and believed this song would be perfect to do just that. When you mix Jacquie’s amazing vocal range with this kind of song, you really have the potential to deliver an amazing and moving performance... and Jacquie did just that. It was really nice to see this softer side of her. We’ve all heard her powerful (and loud) notes, but this was the first time we were able to see her real power in controlling her notes. Jacquie has a very rare ability to shift and entire octave mid-note. She was so versatile and dynamic in her performance last night that I’m almost at a lose for words to describe what she accomplished. On the technical side, it was a highly complex and extemely difficult arrangement and still executed almost perfectly. You add in her personality... an it was angelic, emotional, and sincere performance... more than enough to advance her to next week’s Finale. Christina was beyond impressed, and even she wasn’t sure how to describe exactly what it was Jacquie had just done.

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Cole took his turn with “Shameless,” and had a surprisingly strong country tone. He started playing the piano, which suited the mood nicely. His vocals were solid, but his range was limited by the song choice. It is a great song, but I question the timing in the competition to perform it. My other issue was when Cole got up from the piano to finish the second half. While he picked up the tempo and tried to show more range, the groove of the song was lost and seemed disconnected from where he had started. It was good vocally, but he lost me in the delivery... that will probably cost him a Final 3 spot.

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Closing out the night was Tessanne performing “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” I never actually heard the song before but was blown away by how Tessanne was able to channel what’s inside of her into the delivery of the lyrics. All season, the coaches have been preaching how important it is to have that emotional connection to the song... well, Tessanne takes that to a whole other level. She doesn’t just connect with the song – she becomes the song... every breath, every movement, every sound has her and the song as one. She does all this so amazingly well that you almost forget her immeasurable technical skill. There were some notes she hit last night that wouldn’t seem possible within the arrangement, and she effortlessly and smoothly transitioned from note to note, regardless of which key she is in. The one thing, however, that sealed her spot in the Final 3 (and probably the eventual win) was her final note she hit and held last night. The pitch was flawless, and the length with which she held it seemed to defy all human limitations. In the end, the audience went wild, and for the first time, Adam was essentially speechless.

So, all five artists performed. All five gave it their best, but who will be the Final 3 standing?

With no question whatsoever, and with no explanation needed, Tessanne will be part of the Top 3. On the flip side, and with pretty much the same certainty, James will find himself in the bottom 2 (and, consequently, going home). James has been consistent and is very talented, but he just hasn’t emerged enough as a performer to secure the votes needed to advance this week.

Jacquie has impressed us time after time and has amassed a huge and loyal fan base. Her emotional and sincere performance last night will not only have had her fans in a voting frenzy, but she probably found and touched many new fans. I’m certain she will be standing beside Tessanne in the Top 3.

That leaves Cole and Will. Cole has been a solid vocalist from the beginning, but Will has been on a steady incline with his performances... finally allowing his personality to come through last night, and that may have just been enough. With the iTunes 5x vote multiplier (if an artist makes the top ten), Will may have inched his way to the Top 3, as his song charted #10 at close of voting... thus multiplying his iTunes votes by five. Cole charted #12, but regardless of the difference in number of downloads, once you multiply Will’s by five... it could account for an additional tens of thousands of votes, and with all other methods of voting pretty much limited to a maximum of ten per ‘person’... the math is just not on Cole’s side. So, Team Blake will be joining Team CeeLo with an ‘empty’ team going to the finals as we say goodbye to Cole. Sorry Blake... a fourth trophy just isn’t in the cards this time around.

Update (December 15, 2013)

Will, Jacquie, and Tessanne are the Top 3 and will perform one last time... each and every download of their The Voice performances count as votes. Support your favorite by downloading their songs from this season.

Links to the Top 3 Artists' pages:


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

3 comments:

  1. I really only watch this show for Will. Other performers have caught my attention throughout the season, but really only Will has kept it. Plus I find his itunes recordings breathtakingly special.

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  2. I am shocked that you are writing a music blog and havent heard "A Bridge Over Troubled Waters" before. Have you gone to listen to it now? I found Jackie unremarkable last night - she seemed not with music in first few lines...didn't pick up the melody of the song (that I know very very well) until almost the chorus. James will go far no matter what happens tonite - I bet Ellen picks him up for her record label. I pick Tessane to win the whole thing!!

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