Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"The Voice" Top 8 Performances Recap

Last night, a few coaches from past seasons lent a hand in advising the Top 8.
Ceelo helped Blake.
Usher helped Adam.
Gwen helped both Christina and Pharrell.

Opening the show was a group performance by this season's Top 8. It wasn't one of the best group performances I've seen on The Voice, but it was okay. The three guys left started the piece off, with the girls coming in for the second half. It may have just been me, but it seemed as though the girls were trying to 'one-up' each other with there solo parts... a theme that sadly seemed to carry on into the competition part of the show.

Hannah ("We Don't Need Another Hero") was the first to take the stage, and she could not have done a better job with her performance. All in all, she is just a pure performer. Hair, makeup, wardrobe, and vocals... everything just comes together and creates an amazing performance. Her whole body (especially her eyes) only complement her pitch-perfect vocals in telling the song's story.
She owns the stage every time she's on it, and her performance last night was remarkable. Christina commented that she wanted Hannah to work on strengthening her lower register, but I really didn't see a weakness there. Blake looked to Hannah and told her that she has become one of his "all time favorite artists."
That was my favorite performance of the night, and in my opinion... that was the winning performance of the show.

After being saved last week, Joshua gave a stripped down performance of "Fields of Gold," and showed us why it was a good thing he was saved. Joshua is a simple performer. That's where he shines, and that's where he'll give you an amazing performance. It was just him and his guitar, with some simple instruments backing him up. He doesn't need to 'work' the stage to give us a show. His voice is strong and the focal point, and what he did last night suits him and his personality perfectly, and that's why he is the great artist that he is.

Kimberly performed a version of "Creep" unlike any that has ever been done before. I think it started a little high, which may have been why after the chorus, there were parts of the performance that seemed too loud and too much like 'yelling' (The song was moving up but really had nowhere left to go). Don't get me wrong, the performance was amazing and her vocals where incredible, but here's where that 'theme' I mentioned seemed to take seed.
Kimberly's performance was highly emotional and connected very strongly with herself and the audience. The way the stage was set and the way she moved and sang, I was reminded of The Phantom of the Opera. It was an extremely powerful performance. I just think at times the power could have be reigned back some.

Meghan Linsey - Photo: Tyler Golden / NBC
Blake's other powerhouse Meghan made "Something" look effortless last night. She has a natural power that comes from very deep, yet pours freely. I wasn't happy with the way they set the stage. The stairs on either side of her were a good idea, but they were set way too close together and way to close to her. It really distracted from her performance. It felt as though the stairs were trying to contain or enclose her. It caused me to lose focus from Meghan, and it isolated her from the audience too much. It was still a strong vocal performance, but again, there were times where there was just too much power. Unfortuneltely, this theme continued through to the rest of the night's performances.

India took us "Over the Rainbow" last night. The first line was delivered a Cappella and really showed the control and power of her voice. The stage and wardrobe suited the song perfectly. For the most part, her vocals were soft and pitch perfect. There were some parts of the arrangement that I really didn't care for, and there were some runs she put a little too much into (that running theme), but overall it really did showcase her range and control.

Sawyer's "Simple Man," in my opinion, was just that. I thought that the song may have been too 'old' for him, and that his fan base may not have been able to connect to him or the song, but after looking at everything after the show... was I ever wrong. So, I went back and watched again, and I still don't know what I'm not seeing? While he was vocally good, the stage didn't allow a full connection with Sawyer or the song. There were some spots in his performance where it was more yelling than a show of power. I thought it was okay at best, but apparently, I'm one of very very few that thought that.

Corey ("When I See You Smile") still has some work to do with his control (or more likely his nerves). I think the song choice was perfect for him, but again, I was disappointed with the chosen arrangement. His vocals were strong, though they just seemed to take the first third or so of the song to 'warm up' and become what they are capable of being. Even during the group performance, he faltered ever so slightly in the beginning, but then he found his groove and performed very well. He has the passion and the connection, and I think experience will help with the power and control. I can seem him trying to shoot into a higher register or put out a stronger note, but then he hesitates... plays it safe... and doesn't 'climb.' 

Closing out last night was Koryn with "Girl On Fire." Her vocals and control grow stronger with each week. Her performance last night was no exception, however, parts of the performance (not really the vocals) seemed almost 'choppy.' I noticed that with her during the group number as well. I'm not sure what it was, but she just seemed different last night during her performances. Taking that out, she was very strong, but like the others, there were parts that were overly loud and 'scream' like. I thought it was good but not her best, and although her vocals did 'grow,' her performance was not as strong as it was last week.

Bottom 3 Predictions:
Predicting this week's bottom three is tough and really not necessarily whom I would pick personally.

The only thing I really feel is a given is that Sawyer will be called safe first - followed by Adam's only contestant Joshua.
Kimberly will also be safe... as will Meghan.

So the Bottom 3 I have two possible scenarios that I cannot decide between:

First Option
1. India Carney (Team Christina)
2. Koryn Hawthorne (Team Usher)
3. Hannah Kirby (Team Blake)
Instant Save: Hannah

Second Option
1. India Carney (Team Christina)
2. Koryn Hawthorne (Team User)
3. Corey Kent White (Team Blake)
Instant Save: India

What do you think? Leave a comment below!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

'The Voice' - Top 12 Performances

With the first Live Show of The Voice where the coaches have no control, the artists hit the stage and every one of them really was amazing. They are all so different in styles and performances that it's very hard to say who deserves to move forward and who deserves to go home... where one may fall behind a little in one situation, the same excels beyond everyone else in another... so how do you choose?

Hannah Kirby opened the show last night with Edge of Seventeen and showed us exactly why she deserves to be there. She came out looking amazing and sounded absolutely phenomenal. Everything from her wardrobe to the song choice made it clear who Hannah is and what kind of vocalist and performer she's meant to be. Her vocals were pure and strong, but it's her eyes that grab you and bring you in. Overall, one of my favorites.

Brian Johnson performed If I Ever Lose My Faith In You and seemed nervous last night. Last week I saw a pureness in his vocals, but this week he seemed somewhat off. I'm not sure if it was song choice or something else, but last night was not one of his best. The parts of the song where he would go a little higher up in the register, he sounded great. It was the lower parts that seemed to get lost.

India Carney hit us with Take Me To Church. Christina pushed India a bit outside of her comfort zone with this song, but India nailed it beautifully. She was strong. She was solid, and she hit everything she needed to. The song choice ended up being the perfect choice to show us a little more a rocker edge to her, and she did really well last night.

Mia Z and her natural soulful voice wowed us with Miss You. For how young she is, it's almost scary how much natural talent she has both vocally and in her stage presence. Last night her vocals perfectly matched her movements and vise-versa. She showed amazing range and unfaltering control. It didn't matter where she was in the register, she nailed every note. (Even the dolphins loved it.)

Deanna Johnson stayed with the Gospel/Worship route and sang Oceans (Where My Feet May Fail). I do enjoy this style of music, but I would really like to see another side of Deanna. Everyone else seems to be getting pushed outside of their comfort zones, but she stays grounded where she is. Don't get me wrong, she is an incredible vocalist and performer. Last night was no different. She looked and sounded amazing. She sings mostly in the lower register, and I would like to see her come up a bit, but overall, I was still very impressed with her last night.

Sawyer Fredericks - Photo: Trae Patton / NBC
Sawyer Fredericks performed Imagine, but it wasn't my imagination of how great it was. It's hard to remember that he is only sixteen-years-old. He sat on the stage with his guitar and just dominated every inch of room. His vocals seem to penetrate like nothing I've heard before. I really don't know what to say... except, maybe, "see in in the Top 3"!

Rob Taylor did surprise me with his rendition of I Put A Spell On You. We've all seen how vast his range is on stage, but last night he showed how he is able to control it and use it to his advantage and for our enjoyment of the song. He never overused any note and his falsettos were perfectly placed and timed. I knew he had talent... I just did realize how much. The crowd loved him and the coaches were all on their feet. All I can add is "Great Job."

Corey Kent White gave us our country fill with Why. While the performance had a very clear country tone and vibe, the vocals were just a little weak when he was just standing there playing his guitar. Everything sounded okay, but there didn't seem to be any feeling, and a couple of his runs seemed to fall short. But, when he pushed aside his guitar and moved into the audience, the power of the performance picked up and the energy seemed to grow exponentially. So... first part with guitar playing was just okay - second part with no guitar playing was much better.

Koryn Hawthorne sang Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You), and man did she blow me away. She completely rearranged the song and did an amazing job with it. Honestly, I'm sure Kelly Clarkson would be incredibly impressed with Koryn last night. She started with a modified and stripped down chorus, and when the band came in fully, she just exploded with power. She worked the stage and her vocals like she has been doing this for years. Pharrell's face was just filled with awe, and Koryn rightfully received a standing ovation from all the coaches.

Joshua Davis gave us America, and while it wasn't one of my favorites, Joshua still can command the stage with little effort. I'm not sure if it was the key he chose to do the song in or just the audio but I did feel as though he missed a few notes. His personality, however, claws its way out in each song, and that goes a long way in live performances. It adds feeling and sincerity to the vocals, so even if a note or two gets missed... it's often not noticed.

Meghan Linsey used Girl Crush to show us her country roots and why she's one of Blake's powerhouse vocalists. There really isn't that much to say about Meghan's performance last night that hasn't already been said about her numerous times before. Amazing vocals - Amazing control - Great strength and control - All put together nice and neatly into a killer country performance.

Kimberly Nichole closed the show with House Of The Rising Sun. This song was perfect for Kimberly to showcase just how much power she really has. While the performance wowed everyone, including the judges (who gave her a standing ovation), I felt there were some parts that the power seemed too much. It was always controlled, but I felt Kimberly either let too much out or it's fully aware yet of just how powerful her vocals can be. Either way, it was great... I would have just like it better just a little more reigned it.

Like I said, everyone is very different and when one fell short somewhere, he of she more than made up for that somewhere else.

Note: My favorites and the artists I think should (or shouldn't) make it through usually are NOT the same as my predictions on who will go home or who will move on... these are predictions and not preferences.

With that said...

Kimberly, Sawyer, and Meghan are guaranteed SAFE!
Deanna, Koryn and Rob will also advance to the Top 10.
Joshua will join them next week.
Corey and India will also be around for another week.

So, sadly, this week's Bottom 3 will be (in no particular order)...
1. Brian (Team Adam)
2. Hannah (Team Blake)
3. Mia (Team Pharrell)

And the (Twitter) INSTANT SAVE should come through to save Hannah Kirby.



Wednesday, April 8, 2015

'The Voice' Playoffs Night Two

Tyler Golden / NBC
 "The Playoffs is where the artists become stars before our very eyes." 
~ Christina

In keeping with the pattern of the past seasons, the second night of Playoffs were (mostly) stripped down performances. I think both nights should be that way. When you're going from Top 20 to Top 12 ... it really should be ALL about the vocals. But, that just may be me.

Last night Team Adam's and Team Christina's artists had their turns on the stage, and overall, it was a great show.

So let's recap Team Adam.

 Tonya ("Take Me To The Pilot") has a truly God-given gospel voice. Her entire performance was vocally strong and seemed to resound through and off everything. Historically, gospel music has worked well for artists early on in the competition, but I feel people may take (too much) into account that she was a little stiff in the performing aspect of her piece.

Joshua ("Budapest") has a strong personality, and he injects it all into his performances. His upper range was a little off last night, and I think everything would have been much better if he had not brought out his guitar. Overall I enjoyed it, and even though it wasn't his best... it was still pretty great.

Brian ("At This Moment") started out sounding a tad breathy (guessing nerves), but then released the power that he is very capable of. His vocals were strong, and there is just a simple pureness about his delivery. Brian is one Adam really needs to keep around.

Nathan ("Chains") seemed to full of nerves to fully show us who he is as a vocalist. His performance was solid and fun to watch, but he played it a little safer than he should and really didn't exhibit the range he needed to stand out among the group.  I like Nathan, but...

Deanna Johnson - Photo: Trae Patton / NBC
Deanna ("Down To The River To Pray") came out of herself and, for lack of a better word, exploded on stage. Everything from her wardrobe to her vocals was perfect for the song. I did question the song choice until the first note came out of her. It was absolutely Angelic and nothing less. I can't even imagine that no chairs turned for her in Season 5, because last night there was nothing but pure, powerful, and solid vocals. Definitely one of the Top 2 of the night!

Team Adam's Top 3 (Predictions)
Deanna Johnson (with no doubt) will be voted into the Top 12.
Joshua will advance by votes.

Adam's pick is much less certain, but I think he will (and should) keep Brian.

What was Team Christina like? Well...

Sonic ("I'm Going Down") did alright. She had a strong soulful sound and her vocals were solid and steady, but like many of the artists last night, she didn't really show that wide of a range. Maybe it was the 'stripped down' versions, but many including Sonic, seemed to be holding back last night.

Kimberly ("What's Up") came out and hit every right note. I was not a fan of the wardrobe choice, but her vocals were great and she earned herself a rather extended standing ovation from the judges and crowd.

Lexi ("All By Myself") hit the stage and gave an extremely strong and convincing performance, despite her age in relation to the lyrics and message of the song. Her vocal power and control cannot be denied, and I felt that Lexi gave one of the Top 2 performances of the night. I admit, I was confused that she didn't get the standing ovation from the judges. For me, she produced the whole package last night.

India ("Hurt") was given one of her coach's songs to perform. I can only imagine how that could make India feel honored and nervous at the same time. She was very strong, but I really noticed how much her A Cappella training and performing past came out in that song. While she did an amazing job, I found her vocals were often trying to overtake the music. She received (and deserved) the second standing ovation from the judges.

Rob ("Earned It") has one of those immeasurable range abilities with his voice. Whether it be low or high, he hits every note with unnatural precision. The song was perfectly arranged to showcase his ability, but not so much as to make it a spectacle. It was very well done and almost got a standing ovation... Adam must have been too tired to stand.

Team Christina's Top 3 (Predictions) -- What I think will happen, not necessarily what I want to happen...
Kimberly Nichole will be voted through to next week.
India Carney will be put through by votes.

Christina's choice I think will come down to Lexi Dávila and Rob Taylor. Both did really well. I personally think Lexi killed it last night, but I think Christina is going to go forward with Rob.

Read: Playoffs Night One for Team Blake and Team Pharrell


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

'The Voice' Playoffs Night One

Tyler Golden / NBC
"We've given these artists all the advice and tools that they need to make it to these Live Playoffs."

Last night was the first of two nights where the Top 20 will be made into this season's Top 12.
After Maroon 5 opened the evening, Team Blake's and Team Pharrell's artists each took to the stage wanting to earn your votes.
If it's the same as recent seasons, voting will determine the Top 8 and the coaches choose the other four (each picks one from his and her remaining three artists not voted through).

I've got to say the caliber of talent this season is high and consistent and ... unique. It's going to be much tougher, this season, going from twenty to twelve.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

'The Voice' Battle Rounds - Battle Pairs and Songs - Monday & Tuesday (Part 3 & 4)

This Monday and Tuesday will conclude the Battle Rounds for Season 8 of The Voice. The pairs have been set, and the songs have been chosen.
There are only three Steals left to be used in the upcoming twelve remaining Battles - one each for Adam, Christina, and Pharrell... Which artist will be victorious? And which three artists will be saved by a Steal?
Find out Monday and Tuesday on The Voice on NBC

Here is the remaing list of Battle pairs and what songs they will be singing (along with my predicted outcomes:
(In no particular order)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

'The Voice' - 2nd Night Battle Pairs

Well, after the Blind Auditions, I have to say that Pharrell seems to have the strongest team this season. In fact, I think most of the future Battle / Knockout Steals will be used on current members of his team, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if most of this season's Top 20 were originally part of Team Pharrell.

Just a quick recap:
The Battle Rounds started last night after the final Blind Auditions. Adam put up James McNeiece against Tonya Boyd-Cannon. Although I thought James performed a little better than Tonya, Adam declared Tonya the winner. No steal was used on James.
Blake paired Brian Johnson and Joshua Davis. I had no clue who he'd pick. Although I thought Brian was vocally edging over Joshua, their performances were dead even. Blake did choose Brian, and Adam stole Joshua.
Pharrell's Battle pair was Ashley Morgan and Mia Z. Again, both were amazing, but I definitely felt more from Ashley's performance. And, although both were great vocally, I felt more depth from Ashley. Christina commented on this as well, but Pharrell obviously saw something else and picked Mia as the winner. The other three coaches ALL pushed to steal Ashley, and she decided to move over to Christina's team.

And now tonight's Battles:

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

57th Grammy Awards - Predictions

Sunday, February 8, 2015 should be marked and highlighted on your calendars... PVRs should be set, because THE 57th ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS® are on CBS.

Hosted by LL Cool J, this is one of the biggest nights in music. This year, the Grammy's are adding some 'old school' performances with Madonna and AC/DC... which I'm very much looking forward to seeing. They will be joining Gwen Stefani with Adam Levine, Ed Sheeran, Pharrell Williams (6 Nominations), Miranda Lambert, Sam Smith (6 Nominations), Ariana Grande, and many more. It is going to be a very entertaining night, no doubt. I am a little disappointed, however, that Taylor Swift is not scheduled to perform, but according to her Tumblr post, she's too focused and busy with the planning of her "1989 World Tour" to have been able to fully commit to a Grammy performance... understandable, but still disappointing.

On the topic of Taylor Swift... last year she went into the Grammy's with 4 nominations and came out with zero wins. This year, she's going in with only 3 nominations (because her 1989 album was released after the cut-off date for the Grammy's), but will she walk away with some of the gold?

Here are my predictions for some of the categories for Sunday's Grammy Awards: