SPOILER ALERT! Recap and Review: THE VOICE's Top-8 Deliver Rocky Performances; Full Results!
We are down to eight singers vying for the Season Seven title on THE VOICE. Thus far, America has been completely unreliable in determining the best singer in the competition. In successive weeks, we have lost two of the most entertaining vocalists in the competition (Sugar Joans and Anita Antoinette) and we have twice seen the singing automaton Ryan Sill receive the Twitter Instant Save.
Hopefully the holiday and long weekend has allowed THE VOICE viewers to relax, find their chi, and unclog their ears, before the season becomes a completely lost cause. We are currently down to just one female competitor, DaNica Shirey, and three-time champion Blake Shelton only has Craig Wayne Boyd remaining from his team.
Tonight's rumored song list has been leaked online, and I have listed them in the order of their chances to win. As I've said before, my rankings reflect a mix of my reviews of each singer's performances and the rules of reality show voting that say young, cute, and country usually do well, regardless of talent.
I will be live recapping the show tonight, and then after the show, I will add my complete reviews of each performance. Then, sometime in the wee hours of the morning, I will add photos of each song, depending on when NBC releases them.
Song: "Geronimo" by Sheppard
Three-Word Review: Didn't Expect That
Seeing the Top-8 on stage together really worked to highlight just how great DaNica is. The fact that she is the only female left helps her standout even more than she already does. This song was just fine; I've never heard it before, but for a group song on a competition show, it was actually pretty passable. It also didn't hurt that after the first chorus, I knew the entire song; and now "Say Geronimo" will be stuck in my head all night.
Random Announcement #1: This is what I hate about this show, this week we will lose three contestants. On THE VOICE you get rid of so many people at a time that no one really has the chance to grow, improve, and mature.
Song: "Open Arms" by Journey
Three-Word Review: Just Too Big
I admit that when I saw this song choice, I was a little nervous, because I thought Ryan might actually do it really well, and I don't think that he deserves that honor. Fortunately, my worrying was for not, as the song was just too big for him, resulting in a performance that often went sharp, and should land him in danger again this week.
I think he actually would have done much better had they chosen a key a half-step lower. He had to squeeze out the high notes, and while half sounded competent, the other half were incredibly shrill and screechy.
Also, I don't know if this is a Gwen decision or not, but why does Ryan always seem to be wearing something "pleather"?
Craig Wayne Boyd
Song: "Take It Easy" by The Eagles
Three-Word Review: Blake Was Right
I really like Craig, and I love The Eagles, so I assumed this one would be fantastic, but I should have known when the producers slotted it second that it was going to lack the fire of his previous two performances. His voice sounded a little thin and hollow, and, like Blake said in the package, he kind of phoned it in emotionally.
While he pulled a lot of face in an effort to make a connection with the audience, it did seem like he had sung that song thousands of times before. It is tough on a show like this to have a "moment" every week, but when they eliminate two or three people every other episode, you kind of don't have a choice. I hope Craig's first average performance doesn't cost him his shot.
Song: "These Dreams" by Heart
Three-Word Review: So Close DaNica
No, no, no, no, no, no! For 80% of the song, DaNica delivered a near perfect, professional level performance as she primarily stuck to the original melody. However, when she decided to go off the rails and riff, it came to a screeching halt (pun intended). The last section was nearly all ad-libbed riffs, and most of them were flat. I understand the inclination to want to show off the incredible vocal skill that DaNica has, but it is so important to remember that less is more in situations like this.
If she would have stuck to the melody and then hit one tasteful riff and closed with one a big note, that would have achieved the desired effect. Instead, she took what was a fantastic performance and turned it into one that I am very uncomfortable with.
Nick Jonas and Top-8 Performance
Three-Word Review: Justin Timberlake 2.0?
As everyone has noted, "Jealous" is a revelatory song for Nick Jonas; it transformed him from a silly boy-bander into an adult star. But as I was watching, this song, the arrangement, the backing choir felt very Justin Timberlake; not that there is anything wrong with that.
If you are going to break out from a boy band, it would be smart to follow in the footsteps of JT!
Song: "Someone Like You" by Adele
Three-Word Review: Bring It Home!
Damien can flat sing, and I don't know that I've ever seen a more honestly emotive singer on a talent competition. I hope that his classic R&B style translates to the audience, because he is a special talent. I don't think his album is one that I would purchase, but I greatly admire what he is capable of, because few people have the skills he does.
From a selfish musical theatre perspective, I think he could be very good on stage. Can you imagine him singing "Bui Doi" from MISS SAIGON?
Song: "Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye
Three-Word Review: Took Too Long
One of the byproducts of fewer competitors is longer performance times, and I think that hurt Chris this week. He was my frontrunner coming into tonight, but far too much of this song seemed flat, not tonally, but dynamically. Adam's warning him not to go too over the top too early seemed to handcuff him. By the time he got to the song's climax (sorry, I had to), it was too little too late. Also, his normally crystal clear falsetto was a bit raspy towards the end.
That being said, Chris is still fantastic, and you know that the teeny boppers (who normally make up the largest voting bloc) are downright giddy for him.
Song: "Holding Back the Years" by Simply Red
Three-Word Review: Flat, Disinterested, Disappointing
I've always thought that Luke was extremely talented, but struggled in terms of stage presence, execution, and song choice; and unfortunately, this missed opportunity just cemented that feeling. This should have been a great performance, this song seemed tailor-made to his vocal sensibilities, but there just wasn't a whole lot going on. Luke seemed like he was disinterested, and anytime he wasn't singing, his mind appeared to wander. That lack of focus also seemed to impact his intonation, resulting in some flatness. Like I had to do with Reagan, I'm going to have to jump off the Luke bandwagon.
Gwen and Pharrell Performance
Song: "Spark the Fire"
Three-Word Review: Ban Lip Syncing
I mean, it wasn't "I Luh Ya Papi" ridiculous, but it was close. I expected so much more from Gwen Stefani, but that was just.... Strange.
And a show called THE VOICE should not allow its coaches to lip sync (or sing over a backing trap); it undermines their credibility.
Taylor John Williams
Song: "Royals" by Lorde
Three-Word Review: NOT Adam Lambert
When singers on competition shows attempt to take an incredibly popular song and infuse it with a different tone and intention, I instinctively compare them to Adam Lambert. I realize that is in no way fair to anyone, because Adam Lambert (in my opinion) is the most well-rounded artist in the history of singing competitions; and Taylor John didn't rise to the Lambert level.
That being typed, it was probably his best vocal of the season, but I can't get over the weirdness that he insists on adding into every song. Weirdness for artistic purposes I am way on board with, but weirdness for weirdness' sake is just annoying.
Song: "The Blower's Daughter" by Damien Rice
When Adam said the words "The Blower's Daughter" the only thing that was in my head was, "Don't screw this up, don't screw this up, don't screw this up, don't screw this up." Since the second the credits rolled on the film version of CLOSER, I have been obsessed with this song. I left the movie theatre and went directly and bought Damien Rice's album "O" just for this song.
For the most part, Matt did a decent job conveying the message and emotion of the song. He seemed to genuinely connect to the heartache and desperation that the song is about. However, he simply does not have the range and depth of Damien Rice. When Damien's falsetto soars above the instrumentation, that is a magical moment; Matt just doesn't have the ability to do that, so the performance as a whole suffered.
I realize that this might not be the most well-known song of the night, but for anyone who knows the original, I think they will come away from this performance disappointed.
Should Be Eliminated
Taylor John Williams
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 | NBC