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.

Let's start with what Team Pharrell did last night.

Caitlin ("Best Thing I Never Had) did really well last night. Her vocals were strong, and her personality really comes out when she's on stage. I enjoyed her performance, and have to say that I saw an uncanny resemblance to Lea Michelle up there last night.

Lowell ("Jealous") seemed really nervous and off-key during the rehearsal clips, and unfortunately, those nerves followed him to the main stage. The beginning seemed forced, but as the song progressed and the range moved up, Lowell got stronger and more confident. The latter half of the song was much better, and had his whole performance been that strong...

Mia ("Ain't No Sunshine") surprised me a little last night. I knew vocally she would be great, but what I didn't expect was how perfectly matched her voice and style was to that song. Her control... her delivery... overall was just amazing. It's like she is an 'old soul.'

Koryn ("How Great Thou Art") started extremely nervous (I actually feared she was going to drop the mic she was shaking so hard), but strongly fought her nerves and did deliver a very strong and well received rendition of a well-known song. I originally believed it to be a very poor song choice for this point of the competition, but she killed it, and everyone loved it. She was one of only two artists to have a standing ovation from the judges, so...

Sawyer Fredericks (Photo: Tyler Golden / NBC)
Sawyer ("Trouble") will absolutely be part of the Top 12. His performance was solid. His vocals were strong. He just seems to have that undefinable and unexplainable 'It' factor when he's on the stage. There were times his vocals would hit a note of find a range that made you sit up and just take notice (and wonder where that even came from).

Team Pharrell's Top 3 (Predictions)
Sawyer Fredericks (I say with no doubts) will be voted through to next week.
Mia Z will also advance by voting.

 Pharrell's pick is going to be between Caitlin and Koryn. Both were great, but Pharrell will (more than likely) go with Koryn.

Team Blake is amazingly strong and to pick only three is brutal.

Sarah ("Free Bird") opened the show and opened strongly. Just over halfway through her performance, however, she dramatically changed the arrangement that, for me, threw it off the rails a bit. Personally, I felt it was too much of a change too quickly and just didn't really work. The first half of the song was amazing... the last half... meh.

Hannah Kirby (Photo: Tyler Golden / NBC)
Hannah ("I Feel The Earth Move") is vocally strong and solid every time she takes the stage. But the words I would use to describe her and her performances are Unique, Fun, Fresh, and Alive. She takes the song (any song) injects herself and just makes the song that much better. I did feel a bit of an Eurythmics influence last night, but still felt a whole lot of the 'Hannah' influence. She was the first to receive a standing ovation from all the judges (only two of those last night), and I think Pharrell said it best when he told her that "The way you allow your voice to control your body ... is Awesome!"

Corey ("To Make You Feel My Love") is Blake's only real Country singer this season and played it a little safe this week. Maybe it was nerves, or maybe he was distracted, but it just wasn't as strong as I've come to believe he can be. It was still a really well done and solid performance. He just didn't take it up the notch that he could have.

Brooke ("Love Me Like You Do") was pushed way out of her comfort zone, and while the performance was good, I think it was too soon for that kind of move by her coach. Granted, we were able to more fully realize her amazing range and vocal capabilities, but it was slightly masked by her nerves and by not being completely comfortable with the song choice. It's disappointing she was put into that position, and it reminds me of Madilyn Paige (also Team Blake) from season 6 and how a poor arrangement was forced upon her.

Meghan ("Love Runs Out") has many years of stage experience, and it shows. She knows how to work the stage and the audience, and has the vocals to back it all up. She's strong and solid, and the audience loved her. Blake and Pharrell were on their feet at the end, and all had nothing but praise for her.. but what do you expect for someone who has and is good enough to tour with Blake.

Team Blake's Top 3 (Predictions)
Corey Kent White will be voted through to the Top 12.
Meghan Linsey will make it by votes.

Blake's pick will be torn as the remaining three are great artists. Sadly, I think Blake's song choice for Brooke sealed her fate, so it'll be between Hannah and Sarah, and I think Blake will (likely) round out his team with Hannah's unique and powerful voice.


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