Tuesday, April 22, 2014

“The Voice” Finally Goes Live – Top 12 – Recap and Bottom 3 Predictions

For the first time this season, The Voice was live with the Top 12 performing. The coaches no longer decide which artist goes home... the choice is now yours. By voting and downloading, the viewers are in control of each artist's fate. Last night twelve performed for your votes, but only ten advance to next week.
Normally when I do a recap for a live show, I have a definitive favorite and can easily come up with my Top Three performances for the night... not so much this time. I could probably come up with my Top Seven or Top Eight – everyone was just really good last night.

Bria Kelly - Credit: Trae Patton / NBC
Opening the show was Bria Kelly singing “Rolling In The Deep.” This was a great song choice for her. Starting on the top of a staircase, Bria's vocals had her signature 'soft-but-powerful' tone right from the beginning. As she slowly worked her way down the stairs, you could feel the strength in her voice grow with each step. Her passion was evident in every note, and she formed a strong connection with the audience. She worked that raspy/roughness of her voice to perfectly enhance parts of the song. She held some killer notes last night, but I think what impressed me the most with Bria last night was that even though she didn't move around the stage very much, the power and the energy of her performance was still off-the-charts. I have doubt that she will be safe tonight.

Delvin Choice came next with “Unchained Melody.” Though not currently a popular song, it is a very well know song, Delvin needed to make a strong emotional connection for it to work, and I'm not sure if he completely succeeded. He started strong and confident, and had amazing control and tone in the lower register. His runs were almost flawless, and his falsettos were dead on. Overall, he was vocally exceptional, but I just didn't feel the connection the song called for. I'm not sure if it was an intentional artistic choice by Delvin, but the way he was working the audience in an upbeat and 'happy' way, just didn't blend with the lyrics. In my opinion, instead of moving along the stage edge and touching hands with the crowd, he should have maybe just crouched down in the occasional place and locked eye-contact while singing to someone.

Dani Moz - Credit: Tyler Golden / NBC
Singing “Just Give Me A Reason,” Dani Moz started on the mini stage within the crowd. Her soft and low vocals in the beginning added a great deal of feeling and meaning to the song, and I thought it was a great way to begin her performance. I loved her sound and really did enjoy the tone of her voice. The transitions through the song were very well done and required a great control of breath. I felt her rendition was energetic and well connected. Her one 'power' note was well placed and executed perfectly. I really enjoyed it, and I would say she was completely safe tonight, but for some reason, it doesn't seem she connected as well with everyone else.

Audra McLaughlin - Credit: Trae Patton / NBC
Blake's female country star, Audra McLaughlin, was up next with “Angel Of The Morning.” The one thing I've come to expect with Audra is how well and how quickly she can connect with the audience. It doesn't matter what she's singing, she puts her whole mind and soul right into the lyrics. Last night was no exception. She started right at center-stage, and instantly you could see and feel everything about her, that's how open she is when she sings. I loved her sound. I loved her tone, and I was impressed with the way (and it's rather unique) she was able to throw in perfectly placed 'pitch-spikes' to add her own touch to the song. She moved down stage and basically dumped her 'heart' right there for everyone to see. It was an amazing song choice and an incredible performance. I'd be very surprised if she's anything but safe tonight.

T.J. Wilkins performed “Waiting On The World To Change,” and it was a good performance, but I'm not sure it was enough or the right song at this stage of the competition. I found some of the song (especially the beginning) to be more like a speech rather than a vocal performance. He definitely had soul, and as he walked down the stage toward the crowd, he did get stronger and more vocal. He was very solid and controlled and had a nice presence on stage, but he didn't really show any range or hit any big notes. While I agree these don't necessarily define a great artist, in this kind of setting and at this point of the competition, people kind of expect it. Unfortunately, I think T.J. will find himself in the Bottom 3 tonight.

Christina Grimmie - Credit: Trae Patton / NBC
Adam's little powerhouse Christina Grimmie took the stage with “Dark Horse.” Katy Perry is one of my favorite artists, so when someone does one of her songs, I tend to be a bit more critical... but with Christina's version... I've got nothing. Adam gave Christina this song because it “specifically paints the picture that she wants to paint as an artist in real life,” and that she did. Her vocals were spot on. Her body language and performance was amazing. She took her passion and exploded it onto the stage. “Dark Horse” is a complex song, and Christina not only nailed it, she made it her own in a way that showed us what we can expect from her as an artist. The power she put into the vocals were insane and never once wavered. Christina killed it, and I bet that even Katy Perry would be impressed. I have no doubts that Christina will be joining the Top 10.

Sisaundra Lewis sang “Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me.” It was nice to see a very scaled back version of Sisaundra last night. We were able to actually hear her vocals on a level that was much more enjoyable. Sisaundra does have a very strong voice and her control seems completely effortless. Though not one of my preferred styles of music, I can't deny the incredible talent she has as a vocalist. Her performance last night was very strong. Usher and Blake were both standing by the end of it, but I'm not sure she fully connected with everyone. There may be a possibility she winds up in the Bottom 3 tonight.

Kristen Merlin - Credit: Tyler Golden / NBC
Shakira's only country artist, Kristen Merlin, took the stage with “Stay.” When you first see Kristen, country music is the last thing you'd expect to come out of her, but once you hear Kristen Merlin, country music is the only thing you can imagine coming out of her. She has an amazing tone and a pure and natural sound. When she started singing last night, there was an almost instant connection with the audience. She performed like a seasoned professional last night, and it felt as though I was watching a Kristen Merlin concert. Oddly, the most impressive thing about Kristen last night was when (near the end of the song) a technical problem killed her microphone. She didn't panic. She didn't even miss a beat... she simply and calmly removed her ear monitor and kept singing. There wasn't even a hint of fear expressed on her face on in her performance. The audience was cheering, and a new mic was brought out. When she finished, the crowd went wild, and you could see the coaches (especially Adam) were beyond impressed. Her vocals were amazing, and she had the rare opportunity to show how professional and non-reactionary she would be in the event of a major technical glitch... She's easily safe tonight.

Kat Perkins - Credit: Trae Patton / NBC
Past nanny turned rocker Kat Perkins performed “Magic Man,” and she killed it. Right from the first note, her energy filled the stage and got the audience completely involved with her performance. Vocally she was amazing, but more importantly, she worked the stage like a true performer. She 'played' with the guitarists on stage. She was full of passion and just knew how to put on a show. There's not much else to say about Kat. I love her sound. I love her look, and I love the way she performs. She took the song and gave us a show that will be remembered. I'm certain she will be (and deserves to be) in the Top 10.

Jake Worthington - Credit: Trae Patton / NBC
Jake Worthington is probably one the most genuine and pure country artists The Voice (or anyone) has seen in a long time. His honest tone and authentic feel gave us an amazing rendition of “Anymore” last night. It was the perfect song for him to show the artist he is and wants to be. I've got nothing technical to critique. From start to finish, his performance was spot on. The likes of Randy Travis, George Jones, and George Strait would definitely be proud of Jake's performance last night. I just wonder if there are enough traditional country fans watching The Voice to keep him safe... I hope so.

Twice stolen Tess Boyer performed the rock ballad “I'll Be There For You.” I've got to say, I wasn't a fan of the wardrobe selection for her. From what we've seen from Tess so far, it just didn't seem to fit with her image or personality. Aside from that, I thought her performance was really well done. She had a great start and a nice tone. Her powerful vocals were very present last night, but there were times I felt that power overtook the music a little. Although her performance was great, I expected something different... something more. She's a strong vocalist, but I don't know if that performance was the right one to be able to put her into the Top 10.

Josh Kaufman - Credit: Trae Patton / NBC
Closing out the show was Adam's biggest regret. Usher stole Josh Kaufman from Adam, and after last night's performance of “Stay With Me,” Adam is was kicking himself for letting Josh go. Josh is pure soul. Everything he did while performing was controlled and deliberate. His range was amazing, and he easily got the audience to fall for him unconditionally. Again, musically, it's not my style of choice, but what Josh does is truly incredible. There is absolutely nothing for him to worry about tonight, as cracking the Top 10 on iTunes essentially guarantees him a spot in next week's show.

Usually when I do my Bottom 3 predictions, it's more or less cut and dry. Last night, however, all the performances were above what I expected. So, I'll do this a little different. 

Of the Top 12, I'm certain that Christina Grimmie, Audra McLaughlin, Bria Kelly, Kat Perkins, Jake Worthington, Josh Kaufman, and Kristen Merlin are safe. That leaves five artists...

I'm fairly sure that T.J. Wilkins will be in the Bottom 3. Tess Boyer will probably be another one who finds herself in jeopardy of going home. The third one I think will come down to Sisaundra Lewis or (unjustly in my opinion) Dani Moz.
If it's Sisaundra, Tess will be saved by the Instant Save and T.J. and Sisaundra will go home. If it's Dani, however, I think she will be saved by the Instant Save and it will be T.J. and Tess going home.

Share your predictions in the comments below and share this page with your friends.

Find out who makes the Top 10 tonight at 8/7c on NBC!

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