Now that the battle rounds have concluded, we can look forward to the final phase of The Voice
: the live shows! This season the four coaches have narrowed their teams down to six contestants each, giving us a total of 24 singers to compete live starting next week. Over the course of the next several weeks, we will watch all 24 perform and then vote for our favorites. Now, assuming the show follows the same course as season 1 (last season there were only 16 singers at the start of the live shows), both America and the four coaches will have their say in who makes it to the final four
in the finale (one singer from each team). Considering the performances thus far and the fact that fans at home help determine the eliminations, here are my predictions of who will make it to the end from each team.
Team Christina: Diversity Reigns
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Christina was very choosy in the blind auditions, repeatedly stating she was looking for something unique, something beyond just a pleasant-sounding voice to really compel her to turn her chair. The result of that pickiness is a wildly diverse team, from opera singers to rap vocalists.
My Top Picks: Jesse Campbell and Sera Hill
I have to include Jesse, because his "If I Ain't Got You" duet with Anthony was definitely one of the top performances from the battle rounds. But it's possible Jesse's performance was bolstered by Anthony's equally stellar vocals and that their musical chemistry magnified the performance overall. Then again, Jessie's smooth voice with impressive range is undeniable, and he was one of the few to get all four coaches to turn their chairs in the blind auditions.
Sera Hill made Voice history when Christina was so moved by her blind auditions song she joined Sera onstage to sing together. Clearly, the two divas have a musical connection, which places Sera as a frontrunner. Her "Chain of Fools" performance was high-energy while executing some "technical runs" that Christina thought earned her respect.
On the Fence: Lindsay Pavao and Chris Mann
Lindsay is distinctive both in her slightly eerie voice and her quiet punk aura (anyone else feel like she gives off a Kristen Stewart vibe?), both which make her likeable in my eyes. But the combination of her vocals and her whole package isn't quite at the awe-worthy level yet. I feel like she could have a similar quirky appeal as Dia Frampton from last season (who was the runner-up), if she could leave more of an impression whenever she performs.
As the only opera singer on the show, Chris already has a unique factor going from him. He certainly proved his vocal skills and technical training when he sang Celine Dion's "The Power of Love" in the battle rounds. Unfortunately, I think his opera label will eventually limit him and I predict he'll be gone before the finale.
Most Likely Gone: Moses Stone and Ashley De La Rosa
As an introverted 17-year-old with a big heart for charitable causes, Ashley is a sweetheart with a somewhat powerful voice--but that's not going to cut it in the live performances and unless she can bust out some bigger, more captivating songs, she will probably go home.
I was actually surprised Christina chose Moses, the bag-of-all-trades singer/rapper/dancer over the country duo The Line this week. True, Moses' singing ability isn't half-bad for a rapper, but the voice must be first and foremost present, and I don't think his is.
Team Cee Lo: Youthful Energy
Looking at Cee Lo's six team members, they all seem to have a cool energy about them, which comes as no surprise, as everyone knows Cee Lo is a unique character. That said, I found it particularly difficult to differentiate among his team, as they all have something going for them that could naturally pop in the live shows (or not).
My Top Picks: Jamar Rogers and Juliet Simms
Jamar stood out during the battle rounds with his rendition of "I Want to Know What Love is" for a few reasons. First, he proved he can definitely sing and bolt out long, soaring notes, as well as display some vocal versatility. Adam was so impressed he described Jamar as "ridiculously, ridiculously good," and he said the other judges (including himself) were fools not to pick him in the blind auditions. But I think even more than that, Jamar came out on stage with charisma, confidence and a great positive energy: he just drew you in with everything he was doing, which is why I think Jamar will go far.
Juliet embodies that relaxed-in-your-own-skin rock vibe and she has the gritty, raspy voice to match. You can tell she really throws herself into her performance, which is another plus. All these things converge to lend her a definitive impression, which is important if you want to go to the end.
On the Fence: James Massone and Tony Vincent
Like Jamar, James is a young fellow with an appealing story of how singing is his ticket to a better life (he's mentioned how he doesn't want to go back to the body shop where he works). This back story and his authentic, youthful charm helps James, although he struggled with nerves prior to the battle rounds (somehow this made him more endearing, though). His genuine version of "True Colors" brought Cee Lo to tears, and I foresee him continuing to win over America's hearts.
To be honest, I think Tony (who has Broadway experience) is just as good if not a better singer than James and Jamar, and as I said, I think it'll be close. Though he does have a cool image (including black eyeliner), it seems to give him a sort of inaccessible feel as a performer, and when the vocal skills of everyone is so high, you have to start to consider how relatable a singer is to a large audience.
Most Likely Gone: Cheesa and Erin Martin
In both Cheesa's blind auditions and her battle duet singing "Total Eclipse of the Heart," she barely made the cut (Cee Lo pushed his button at the last second and it seemed like a toss-up between her and Angie in the battle). In a group of strong performers, I think she will falter.
With Erin, I would have pegged her as a contender after her blind audition, with her quirky voice and style. But after this week's battle (granted, she was in an odd pairing with the rocking Shield Brothers), my vote has waned - she took her voice too weird, with strange noises/shrieks at the end of her runs. Plus, she comes off as extremely cocky.
Team Adam: Win #2?
As the winning coach last year, Adam has bragging rights over the other three. The question is can he pull off a second consecutive win? Overall, I'd say probably not, as his team doesn't seem quite as strong as some of the others. But who knows--all it takes is one singer, and Adam's got a couple powerful ones.
My Top Picks: Tony Lucca and Kim Yarbrough
The former Mickey Mouse Club member (alongside Christina) is seeking his second shot at stardom and he's looking pretty good, with all four judges turning their chairs for him in the blind auditions and a soaring performance of "Beautiful Day." His voice has a nice clarity to it and it's evident he puts his whole body and being into a performance.
Kim's powerhouse vocals cannot be denied and she has the persona to match her strong, richly toned voice. You can tell she has the stage presence and the self-assurance that comes with experience. I think she will remain a solid competitor, although I don't know if I envision her winning it all.
On The Fence: Katrina Parker and Mathai
"Bleeding Love" is not an easy song to sing, and Katrina held her own in the battle rounds. Christina even described her voice as having an "Adele-like" quality and it's obvious Katrina has a firm command and control of her singing ability. The only reason Katrina is on the fence is the simple fact that her personality hasn't shined through as much as some of the others.
I view Mathai as capable of going either way - on the one hand, she gave a killer take on Adele's "Rumour Has It" in her blind auditions, causing Blake to call her "a star" and Adam to insist her voice didn't sound like anybody he'd heard before; but then in her battle singing "Love Song," her voice wasn't quite on the mark and Adam was a little let down by her performance.
Most Likely Gone: Karla Davis and Pip
As a shy country singer, Karla could afford a boost in self-confidence and stage presence. But she has the vocal potential, as illustrated by a moment during her preparation for the battle rounds when Adam's encouragement helped her sing a note in a way she hadn't done before. According to Adam, she has a natural ability that can blossom, but my feeling is there's not enough time for that needed growth in the live shows.
Pip has a catchy name and fashion sense and he's described as an old soul living in a young guy. Yet I struggle to remember his performances and nothing really connects me to him. I'm sure he's a decent enough singer (I think). What stood out to me most was his inflated sense of confidence, which is not a good thing.
Team Blake: All About the Heart
As a country singer, Blake seems to put an emphasis on the emotional aspect of singing a song and the importance of connecting with the audience and telling them a story. It's possible that perspective might bring him a winner, as he has put together a relatively strong team.
My Top Picks: Jermaine Paul and Charlotte Sometimes
By now everyone knows Jermaine is background singer for Alicia Keys and his experience has paid off in his performances on the show. While rehearsing, Kelly Clarkson even offered him a spot on her tour and after his battle round, Christina and Cee Lo openly admitted they were fans. With that kind of praise, I'd say Jermaine is contender for the finale.
Charlotte made an impression from the beginning, with her interesting take on "Apologize" that showcased her distinctive voice (Blake compared her to Xenia, one of his finalists from last season). She's also got an extroverted, somewhat out-there personality and a sheer determination to win, which can go a long way.
On the Fence: Erin Willett and Naia Kete
Erin had a great matchup with Gwen Sebastian in the battle rounds, singing "We Belong" by Pat Benatar, during which her emotions shined through (though her father was in critical condition, she decided to stay in the competition to sing for him and make him proud). Her voice was described as strong and consistent with a rich quality. The only thing holding me back is that her voice and image isn't as memorable as say, Charlotte, though her ability is definitely there.
As a reggae street performer, Naia has a clear niche when it comes to her voice. Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" was the perfect selection for her battle round song and yet she didn't stand out as was expected, given she was smack in her comfort zone. She has an interesting voice, but she's going to have to step it up a notch to stay longer in the competition.
Most Likely Gone: RaeLynn and Jordis Unga
RaeLynn has a lovely country voice, but her inexperience shows in her performance. I was a little surprised when Blake chose her over Adley Stump after they sang "Free Fallin'" together, although Blake cited RaeLynn's ability to make him believe her lyrics as his reason.
Jordis showed promise during her blind auditions with her rock and roll spunk, but her performance of Alanis Morrisette's "Ironic" was lackluster and Blake was a little disappointed. While preparing for the performance, it became clear Jordis was being held back by her anxieties and I'm not sure that's going to go away before the live shows.
So there you have it--my take on the four teams going into the live shows. What do you all think? Do you agree/disagree? Who would be your top picks from each team?
(Images courtesy of NBC)