Tuesday, May 13, 2014

'The Voice' (s.6) – Semi-Final Top 5 – Recap

Universal Studios was on fire last night as the Top 5 performed for your votes with the hopes of making it to next week's The Voice finale. With only three spots available, I can't even imagine the pressure everyone was under, but every one of them performed amazingly and flawlessly. Whatever happens, I say all of them are winners already.

Tyler Golden / NBC
Each performed two songs—one chosen by their respective coaches and one chosen by them as a dedication to there 'home.' I felt all the song choices were great and well suited to each contestant. Adam did go a different way with his choices, and I think the direction he wanted to take his artists (and the show) was refreshing and smart, but I'm not sure if America did.

Opening the semi-finals was Usher singing his new single “Good Kisser.” Usher always performs well, and I'm not sure if it was just very hot on stage or if it was part of the staging for his song but sweat (or water) was flying off him every time he turned his head. It was a great performance... especially since he appeared to be actually singing live... unlike a certain previous coach.

Tyler Golden / NBC
The first contestant to perform last night was Kristen. She chose “Gunpowder & Lead” as her dedication song. I've always been a fan of Kristen's vocals, and last night she stepped it up even further. She is definitely proving herself to be the new face of country music. Every week she grows a little more, but it's her energy and attitude that captures your attention. Her pitch is always spot on, and you can't help but become immersed in the emotion she is emoting during her performance. She works the stage and involves the audience on a level that makes her an amazing performer.
For Kristen's second song, Shakira picked “Foolish Games.” To show Kristen's versatility and range, it was a great song choice. At this point in the competition, we needed to see a different side of her... and she delivered wonderfully. Her tone matched the song perfectly, and it was probably the most connected to the lyrics that I've seen Kristen, and that really emanated out into the audience.

Tyler Golden / NBC
Josh's first song was his dedication to those back home (especially his wife and kids). He picked “All Of Me,” and the stage was set in a way that only enhanced the mood and feelings of the song. I found this performance of his a little less on the bluesy side, and he sang a bit deeper and slower. His tone and arrangement was something I really enjoyed. The camera work and wardrobe even further added to his emotional delivery.
Usher chose “Love Runs Out” for Josh's second song. It was an extremely strong and rhythmic start, and I think this was the best performance Josh has given so far this season. His vocals and personality screamed 'star.' He was so energetic and infectious that it felt as though he became the song. The audience loved it, and actually, so did I.

Tyler Golden / NBC
Kat's first song of the night was picked by Adam. He wanted to show another side of Kat and chose “Chandelier.” Again, I have to give props to the wardrobe department... Kat looked great on stage, and I loved this side of her. Her vocals and tone were true to the song and just flawless. The stage had multiple chandeliers hanging around her, which made it seem like we were at one of her concerts. Her vocal range was incredible and perfect. For a rocker to do a song that has a very 'operatic' melody... she nailed yet.
For her dedication song, Kat chose “Let It Go” and dedicated to the family and the kids she used to nanny for. It's their favorite song, and they were in attendance tonight. This is one of my favorite songs, and there have been many renditions done, and Kat's ranks right up there. She unleashed her vocal power and added a little bit of her own twist to the song, which worked very well. Her entire performance was filled with such strong feeling and conviction that there was little more she could have done. Her pitch and tone were perfect, and I think this one was her best yet on the show. It was a great song choice and showed a whole other side of the 'Rocker Nanny.'

Tyler Golden / NBC
Jake started his night with a dedication to his friends and family back home. He chose the rather old, very traditional, and well know “Good 'Ol Boys.” Unlike the other contestants, his stage setting was very simple, with the focus on him and his guitar. The simple stage did match his pure delivery, and his deep voice and great tone showed just how true Jake is to country music. I actually saw glimpses of Travis Tritt and Tracey Lawrence on that stage last night. Jake IS country music, and that song choice solidified that even further.
Blake's choice for Jake's second song was “Heaven.” Blake wanted to infuse just a little bit of pop music into Jake to really showcase the power and control of his vocals. Jake did add (and I expected nothing less) some country into the song, and it turned out great. He was really connected to the song and really touched the audience. While the other contestants were going full out in their performances, Jake kept it simple but was still able to fill the stage with energy and power.

Tyler Golden / NBC
For Christina's first song, Adam chose “Hide And Seek.” I was surprised when Adam said that she would be using a vocoder for this song. Adam did stray from the 'expected' performances last night, and this was the best example... but I agree with him. Adam does not want the competition to simply be karaoke—he wants to expose people to music they may not otherwise be exposed to and show the creative and expressive sides of his artists. Christina began the song on her knees, and her vocals were a little quiet. The setting on the stage did create a nice mood, but it was the many lanterns coming behind her as she stood up when her performance really took off. Christina brought back her power and her vocals just soared. The beginning of the song, by itself, was a little weak, but when you put the whole performance together as a whole, I realized that you couldn't have done it different or better. The way she went from soft and gentle to hard and powerful created kind of a story. It was unique. It was amazing, but the coaches still seemed critical of it. I'm not sure how America will react to it, but I thought it was a genius and incredible performance.
Tyler Golden / NBC
Her dedication song was “Some Nights.” For me, this was the best performance of the night. She looked amazing and her vocals were dead on. In the beginning, she was backed up vocally, but her voice had just the right amount of power over the backup singers. Her vocals were front and center but not overpowering. Her energy for this song was perfectly balanced, and she worked the stage like a pro. It was very well arranged, and she just killed her big note. The whole performance gave me a feeling of being at a party and a concert at the same time, and when the many, many balloons fell, that just sealed the deal. Like I said, the best and most entertaining performance of the night.

After ten amazing performances by five very talented artists, how do you pick a Top 3? This is the first season, in my opinion, where they have all proven that they deserve to be and should be part of the Top 3. Each one is different than the others, but each one is equally talented, and regardless of the outcome of The Voice, each one will have very successful and amazing careers in music. It really does suck that two have to go home tonight.

So... to predict who goes home... that's tough. But historically, this season, iTunes seems to be a spot on predictor of who goes home, so let's go with that. Josh's songs charted #4 and #12, so he will be safe. Jake's charted #3 and #14, so he will be safe. On the other side, Kat only charted #33 and #57 (which really surprised me), so … sadly … she will be leaving. The second one going home is not so clear, however. Kristen did break the Top Ten (#6), but her second song charted second to last among the others. Christina didn't break the Top Ten at all (which is very shocking), but both her songs charted well above Kristen's bottom song (at #19 and #28), so even though Kristen earned a 5x multiplier, it may or may not be enough against Christina's two songs. You add to that the fact that both have a very large and strong fan base, and it really could go either way.

My predicted Top 3 (based only on iTunes sales) will be Josh, Jake, and either Kristen or Christina. Either way... I will be one of many in line for any of the Top 5's albums!

Don't forget to tune to NBC tonight as The Voice reveals the Top 3 for the Finals

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