SPOILER ALERT! Recap and Review: THE VOICE's Final Five Sing Twice as a Favorite Emerges from the Semifinals
Ok, things are getting real on NBC's THE VOICE tonight. Five artists will compete in the Semifinals hoping to secure a spot in next week's Season Seven finale. If last season is any indication, two of the semifinalists will be eliminated on Tuesday, but with THE VOICE's track-record of mixing up their format, you can never quite be sure. Case and point, on Tuesday's Results Show, eliminated contestants will have a chance to sing and earn another chance at the title. Will it be just the seven singers eliminated since Week 1's mass elimination of eight? Hopefully we will get some clarification during tonight's episode.
Tonight, the remaining five competitors will sing two songs, one chosen by their coach, and one in honor of their fans and supporters. If those songs are leaked before the broadcast, I will update this article. However, based on some of the song choice travesties that we have seen over the course of the season, I am a little worried that a coach's poor decision will negatively impact one of the remaining quality contestants.
I am interested to see if Pharrell Williams will be an active participant in the show tonight, or if he will just sit in his big read chair and comment on the performances, since all of his singers have now been eliminated (I feel your pain DaNica Shirey).
In addition, THE VOICE's winningest coach, Blake Shelton, will perform his new duet "Lonely Tonight" with Ashley Monroe from his album "Bringing Back the Sunshine." Monroe is one-third of the country band Pistol Annies, which includes Shelton's wife Miranda Lambert.
Here are my rankings of the five contestants remaining in the traditional contest:
1) Damien | Team Adam
2) Chris Jamison | Team Adam (despite having to earn last week's Instant Save)
3) Craig Wayne Boyd | Team Blake
4) Matt McAndrew | Team Adam
5) Taylor John Williams | Team Gwen
What do you think of my rankings? Which eliminated contestant are you hoping gets a second shot in the Wild Card Round? As I do every week, I will be live recapping tonight's show, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, or on Twitter @BWWMatt.
After the show concludes tonight, I will add full reviews of each performance. Also, when NBC makes them available, I will post pictures of each contestant as well.
Wild Card Update: Ok, the eliminated Top 12 are eligible to return, which means we will see Sugar Joans, Jessie Pitts, Reagan James, Anita Antoinette, Ryan Sill, Luke Wade, and DaNica Shirey. If Anita or DaNica don't make it to the finals, I will be greatly annoyed.
Blake Shelton Performance
Song: "Lonely Tonight"
Three-Word Review: BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE
Watching this performance, I just had a brilliant idea. Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert in NBC's live production of THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS! Tell me that wouldn't be a ratings hit!
Song: "She's Out of My Life" by Michael Jackson
Three-Word Review: Emotionally Lacking Emotion
I have been a fan of Damien's this entire season, but what I once considered his greatest strength is becoming something that I think might end up being a detriment. Nearly all of his performances have relied his ability to connect to the lyrics, however, the more and more I've seen of Damien, the more I am beginning to think that it is a shtick, rather than true emotional connection. Maybe it is that he has just done it so many times that I am immune to it, but he is no longer moving me, and, to be honest, it is kind of annoying me, and I hate that.
Craig Wayne Boyd
Song: "Working Man Blues" by Merle Haggard
Three-Word Review: Ole' Fashioned Fun
Last week, I was critical of Craig because he seemed to be sleep walking through "Take It Easy", but he more than redeemed himself tonight. While I'm not sure that a song nearly no one has ever heard of was the best choice for this point in the competition, Craig absolutely performed the heck out of that song. Is he going to be country's next superstar? I don't know, but this guy is already capable of slaying any and every room that he ever plays.
Taylor John Williams
Song: "Falling Slowly" by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová
Three-Word Review: No More Please
I love the movie ONCE, and I love Cast Recording for Broadway's ONCE, but I am 100% over reality show contestants singing "Falling Slowly." After the fantastic Glen Hansard and Steve Kazee, I don't need another version, especially if it is going to be sung sharp the entire time. Taylor John has gotten by on his hipster charm recently, despite the fact that he has practically butchered everything his sung. If he makes next week's finals over a far more deserving vocalist, I will be greatly disappointed.
Song: "Make It Rain" by Ed Sheeran
Three-Word Review: Ok, Adam's Right
Ok, I am a big enough man to admit that I was wrong. When Adam Levine said that "Make It Rain" was going to be Matt's best vocal, I figured it was just more coach-speak; pumping up his contestant in hopes of garnering votes. But, I've got to say, that performance might have been one of the best of the entire season. It was raw, it was powerful, and it showed fantastic vocal control and power. I have not been a fan of Matt's at all up until this point, but after this, I wouldn't be too upset if he made next week's finals.
Song: "Sugar" by Maroon 5
Three-Word Review: Absolutely Flippin' Flawless
The amount of vocal control and range that Chris displayed in this song boarded on flawless. So often when singing competition contestants take on current hits, they seem like poor imitations of the superstar originals. While I haven't heard Maroon 5's version yet, I can't imagine anyone, even Adam Levine, delivering it any better. Chris possesses a range that allows him to be equally as strong in both the higher and lower extremes of his voice. This kid deserves to be in next week's finals. Also, I am so glad that after nearly 25 years, Robert Palmer's backup models finally found work again.
AMERICAN IDOL HOMETOWN TRIBUTES
Song: "I Don't Want to Wait" by Paula Cole
Three-Word Review: Weird Arrangement, Vocal
Peter Gabriel inspired or not, I just did not enjoy that arrangement at all. I thought the song choice itself was pretty odd, but when you threw in the instrumentation, it became a little too much for me. As I said above, I really enjoy Damien, heck I had him rated first this week, but tonight's performances have me worried about his chances to advance to the finals. He sang it fine, but the odd arrangement brought into focus something that I've noticed from Damien throughout the season. On certain notes, he keeps his mouth spread so wide open that it distorts and takes me out of the moment of the song.
Song: "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2
Three-Word Review: Disappointing, Growly, Pitchy
When Carson announced Matt's next song choice, I really thought that it was going to be a homerun, however, it was a double, at best. Matt delivered the U2 classic fairly convincingly, but at times that resulted in unnecessary growling and a few pitchy moments. While the performance was not terrible by any stretch of the imagination, it was disappointing, especially considering his first performance, and the potential this one should have had. I'm sure that it will chart well, but it was not my favorite performance of the night.
Craig Wayne Boyd
Song: "The Old Rugged Cross" by George Bennard
Three-Word Review: For What Demo?
When George Bennard wrote the song in 1912, I doubt that he ever imagined it would be sung on a live television singing competition, but either way, congrats Benny! While I am sure that the song will resonate with many of country music's religious fans, between this song and a Merle Haggard tune, I'm not exactly sure what demo Craig is trying to reach. At this stage in the competition, you have to be able to appeal to as many segments of the audience as possible if you want to win. Perhaps at this point, Craig's not too interested in winning, but picking two songs that are a combined 147 years old doesn't seem like the strongest strategy.
Taylor John Williams
Song: "Blank Space" by Taylor Swift
Three-Word Review: Weirdest Choices Ever
Um... What can I say about this song and performance? I normally don't have a problem with an artist reinventing another singer's song, but there was something unbelievably uncomfortable about this performance. It was breathy, it was pitchy, and I struggled to hear the vocal throughout. If Taylor John advances, I might just give up on America.
Song: "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars
Three-Word Review: Who Needs Autotune?
WHAT? Are you kidding me? That performance was (to borrow a phrase from Gwen) b-a-n-a-n-a-s! Those crystal clear high notes were absolutely ridiculous. That LIVE performance rivaled what nearly any recording artist would have been able to do in the studio. Chris has become an incredibly confident performer, capable of creating record quality renditions on live television. This kid is a real talent, and one that certainly deserves to win next week.
Programming Update: Carson announced that the three finalists will be announced early in tomorrow's episode, so that they can have enough time for the Wild Card contestants to perform.
Should Be In Danger
Taylor John Williams
Other than Taylor John, I would be ok with any of the other four advancing.
Best of the Night
What do you think of my reviews? Am I completely wrong on any of the singers? Let me know what you think in the comments below or on Twitter @BWWMatt.
Photo Credit: Trae Patton and Tyler Gorlden | NBC