Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Playoffs – Team Blake – Recap ('The Voice' s.6)

The bitter-sweet Playoffs premiered last night with Blake's Team. All five performed, but only three moved on to the Live Shows.

I'm still not sure what I think of the new format, where the coach chooses the three to advance instead of voting. And, I do think that if it had been decided by votes, the outcome of Blake's Top 3 would have been different.

Audra McLaughlin - Credit: Tyler Golden / NBC
First up last night was Audra McLaughlin. I've got to say that The Voice Hair & Wardrobe are doing a great job this season. Like everyone else, Audra looked fantastic as she took to the stage to sing “Broken Wing.”
I've been a fan of hers since the beginning, and her amazing country tone still captivates. Her range was perfect for the song, and she hit pretty much all her big notes with no problems. When she's on stage, one can't help but be drawn into her and her voice. Her vocals come so naturally and effortlessly, that she is able to connect more deeply to the song and to us. With Audra, you not only hear her sing... you feel her sing.

Ryan Whyte Maloney came on next with “Second Chance.” It was a tough song to do, but I think he did really well. It's still hard to match what comes out of him with the look he portrays, and I'm still awed by his incredible range.
He had his guitar and seemed to be filled with confidence. For what the song demanded of him, I think he nailed it. His range was there, and even though there were some (very few) issues, he connected with the audience and hit all his power notes with pride. It was a great performance to watch.

Following Ryan was Madilyn Paige. She chose “Clarity” to challenge herself and to show that she does have the power everyone knows is there. The reverb effect that was used in the first few lines of the song added an element that actually highlighted her vocals even more. She immersed herself into the song as much as she could and did create a connection with the audience. I'll admit that there were times where she needed to put out a little more power, but she has consistently shown growth as an artist. Her big note and run at the end showed that growth and where she can easily go. She hit it much better and stronger than she would have earlier on in the competition. Yes, it did fall a little short, but it's still early in the season. I'm disappointed that Blake didn't advance her, because I felt that 'ball of fire' burning inside of her was almost to the point of exploding.

Jake Worthington was no surprise as he performed “Anywhere With You.” The man is purely and simply country to the core. His sound is so solid and authentic, and his energy and personality is infectious. He moved around the stage and engaged the audience with control and confidence. Regardless of how far Jake goes in this competition, I honestly see a CMA appearance in his future.
My only critique is that he needs to work on and add some 'moves' while he's on stage... maybe he can sneak into Shakira's or Usher's room and get a little side coaching, because I've seen Blake dance and...

Sisaundra Lewis - Credit: Tyler Golden / NBC
Closing out the performances for Blake's team was Sisaundra Lewis with “New York State Of Mind.” There's really not much I can say about her performance because there aren't many people in the world that can do what she does. Whether in the lower range or way up in the impossibly high register, she never falters, and the power never stops. The beginning of the song, I felt like I was sitting in a Jazz bar, and by the end of the song... I'm not even sure where I was. I will say (and this is only my taste) that there were a few times where I felt her vocal power did overtake her and the song, but otherwise, an out-of-this-world performance. I really don't know what Blake thinks he will be able to coach her on. How do you 'coach' someone that is better than you... and almost everyone else in the world?

Team Blake - Credit: NBC
In the end, Blake chose to take Jake Worthington, Sisaundra Lewis, and Audra McLaughlin to the Live Shows. Had it been chosen by votes (and in my personal opinion), I think Madilyn would have advanced instead of Sisaundra. There's no doubt that Sisaundra is an extraordinary and mind-blowing vocalist, I just think that even if she didn't advance, her career would take off like no other. Madilyn, on the other hand, is still young and growing as an artist. The Voice is about finding, coaching, and bettering artists. Every performance Madilyn has done on the show has always been a few steps better than her last. It would have been great to see the fire come out of her, as I'm sure it would have with coaching and a few more performances.

But it is what it is, and I do congratulate Blake's Top 3. I do also wish Ryan and Madilyn continued growth and success, and I look forward to what their futures will bring to the world of music.

Tune in next Monday and Tuesday to NBC as The Playoffs continue.

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