Tuesday, December 3, 2013

“The Voice”—Top 6 – Recap

With Ray and Caroline leaving the show last week, we are down to six. Matthew was also in the bottom three but was spared with the Instant Save. The six remaining artists are all very talented, but only five can advance to next week’s semi-finals. Last night, the remaining six each did two songs – one chosen by the coach, and one chosen themselves as a dedication song. Honestly, there really isn’t much to say about each artist at this stage that hasn’t already been said on more than one occasion by more than one person... so this will be more of a recap than a review.

Cole started the night off with “Rich Girl,” a song chosen by Blake. Both decided to forgo the acoustic guitar and, instead, went electric for this song. Going ‘plugged in’ for this song was a smart decision, as it very much fit with the feel of the song. I’m not sure the song itself fit well with the image Cole has established thus far, but he did perform it perfectly.
The second song (performed later in the show), “Better Man,” Cole chose and dedicated it to his “first love.” Though they are no longer together, he said that she still makes him “want to be a better man.” This song choice was a much better fit for him. His almost natural vocal ‘roughness’ added a nice element to the song, but there were times where there was too much rasp in his voice. Christina did notice this and gave him the advice of not working his voice so hard in rehearsals, because in the performance, it will sound like someone who has been singing too much and too hard.

Adam picked “Redemption Song” for Tessanne to sing, and it was the perfect song choice for her. She was sitting on a stool on the mini stage in the audience and just killed it. Not only was she able to show her amazing range, but she was able to fully showcase her passion and emotion. She was practically perfect on every level. The crowd went nuts, and Adam was just beaming with pride.
For her second song, Tessanne chose “Unconditionally” and dedicated it to her parents. This was the first mainstream pop song she performed, and this style really suits her well. Katy Perry is one of my favorite artists, so I was very skeptical... but Tessanne nailed it. She made it hers but didn’t take anything away from the power or message of the song. I’m pretty sure that rendition will made Katy proud, and Blake called Tessanne “a world class vocalist.”

Matthew’s first song was his dedication song to his family, and he sang “Story of my Life.” He started off too soft but did strengthen it by the chorus. When he came back down again for the second verse, you could really see how much the first verse was off. He was still soft, but he had the power in his voice. It makes me think that his nerves took a bit to get under control, and that may cost him votes this week. Adam made a great point when giving his opinion. He told Matthew that he did like the performance but still compared everything to “Hallelujah” - one of his best performances (topping the iTunes charts at #1), and Matthew really hasn’t been able to achieve that caliber again... “Hallelujah” was one of those ‘right song, wrong time’ kind of situations.
Christina’s choice for Matthew was “When a Man Loves a Woman,” because she wanted him to be very soulful. In contrast to his first song, he started this one off with too much power, and it just didn’t fit with the mood of the song. He continued to build in the song, which created some minor pitch problems and ended up putting way too much power into the song. It would have been a better rendition if he brought it down a few notches. It’s not always about how much power your voice has... you need to make a connection with the song and the audience, which he did not accomplish with this song.

Will dedicated his song choice to his wife and sang “A Change is Gonna Come.” He started the song off playing the piano then stood up and went to the mic (a few feet away). It didn’t work very well and seemed very awkward, but he did bounce back and was very strong vocally. I have said it before that, for the most part, Will is a very talented vocalist and has amazing range and tone, but he just doesn’t have the presence on stage the others do. Although Adam said it was a very emotional performance, I thought Will focused too much on showing his power and not enough on showing his emotions.
Will’s song from his coach was “Hey Brother,” and he sang the song while playing the banjo. That one instrument choice is what will probably secure him a spot in the Top 4. Once again, Adam picked the perfect song, and Will performed it almost flawlessly. Adam really seems to know what will showcase his artists’ strengths and what pushes them just far enough... now if Will would just loosen up a little.

The first song of the evening for James was his dedication song to his dad. James chose “Fell in Love with a Girl,” and I’m not sure I understand the choice. For me, it was just a rather odd song choice to perform at this stage of the competition. James started off okay, but around halfway through the song, he lost his place and had a few seconds of silence where there should have been vocals. Adam commented on this, but said he came back from it nicely.
Adam’s choice for James was “I Would Do Anything for Love,” and I was excited for this song. A great song choice to fit James’ vocal range and power. The slow build up exploded with energy, but it wasn’t as great as I was expecting. Granted, James was a bit under the weather, and that may have played a factor... He sounded great in the softer keys, but seemed off once he hit the higher register.

Jacquie’s first song was “Cry Baby” and was picked by Christina. Jacquie was worried about the song being too 'old' for her, as she really hasn’t experienced heartbreak yet, but that worry was put to rest during her performance. The soul and power of her voice resonated off the stage like nothing I’ve seen. It was as though she has an old lady tucked away inside of her that she can channel when she sings. Jacquie put her whole heart on the stage for everyone to see. The audience went wild, and even Carson couldn’t really believe what he had just heard and saw on that stage. Christina didn’t even stay in her chair... she walked up onto the stage and talked about Jacquie’s rendition facing the audience, standing by Jacquie’s side.
The dedication song Jacquie chose was “The Voice Within.” She dedicated it to her coach, Christina, in a beautiful and heartfelt message. The vocal performance was flawless and awe inspiring. Her soft vocals in the beginning showed a side of Jacquie that we haven’t really seen before. As always, she hit the highs, and she hit the lows... and blew away everything in between, which earned her a standing ovation and high praise from her coach.

All of the performances last night were really well done, and every one of the Top 6 showed us exactly why there are there. However, there were a couple that stood out over the others, and with those, we can narrow down the bottom three.
Cole has captured the hearts and ears of many people over the weeks, and last night was no different. He showed his versatility and will be, with no doubt, moving on to the semi-finals. Tessanne took us on a wild ride filled with passion and emotion. Her vocally perfect performances and infectious stage presence will certainly advance her as well.

On the other side, Matthew didn’t live up to the standard he had set for himself a couple weeks ago with “Hallelujah.” He did peak too soon in the competition and instead of growing like the others, he has been moving backwards. He is very talented, but after last night, he will find himself in the bottom three for the second week in a row, and I don’t think the Instant Save will work in his favor this time around... It will be the end of the journey for him. Last week I had James in the bottom three, but he wasn’t, and that surprised me. While he is a great vocalist, I just don’t think he can stand against some of the others. Maybe because he wasn’t feeling well this week, James really fell short of pack on both of his performances. CeeLo had commented on one of the #askcarson questions that the final two would be James and Tessanne, but I don’t agree. Based on everyone’s singing last night (and slightly factoring past weeks), James will find himself standing with Matthew. With that said, either James or Matthew will be the one going home, and I think it will be Matthew... He peaked too early, and there are just too many Team Adam fans to save Matthew this week.

That leaves Jacquie and Will. Both were amazing and both deserve to be in the semi-finals. I really don’t think it matters which of them round out the bottom three, because whoever it is will be safe with the Instant Save. Jacquie has had a strong following from the beginning, and Will’s fans have been growing strongly these past couple of weeks, so picking one to stand with James and Will would be nothing more than a guess... I will say that next week’s semi-finals will have Jacquie, Will, Tessanne, and Cole on the stage.

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

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