The live shows commenced last night, clearly emphasizing a good show with full-scale production sets, costumed (some not so much) back-up dancers and a lot of bright lights. For the full run-down of the two-hour episode featuring Team Blake and Christina's artists, check out our detailed recap
. For an analysis of how the contestants performed with my personal predictions for who will go home, keep reading!
The Live Shows: Time to Shine
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At this point we've seen each of the 24 singers perform twice (once solo in the blind auditions and then in the battle rounds in duets), so we've approached some level of familiarity with them. Knowing what we know, it might be easy to predict the winner (or at least the final four), as I did last week, but that doesn't mean some singers can't surprise us in the live performances. Judging from last season on The Voice
, the final live show phase is a time for the singers to go beyond "the voice" and see who rises from the crop as a star. In other words, who has the whole package?
has been someone who's stuck with me since the blind auditions, as he has a memorable story (a backup singer for Alicia Keys who wants to break out on his own) and killer vocals to match. He started off the night and I have to say I agree with Christina's critique - I'm not sure the rock mood of SONG was the best choice for the smooth crooner. Sometimes going outside your genre can be a good thing, but this time it, along with fancy rising platforms and girls on massive drums, seemed to only mask what is best about Jermaine: his soulful vocals. While I pegged him as the top of Blake's team, after tonight I have to say he fell more towards the middle.
I was surprised RaeLynn
beat Adley in the battle rounds, and while I recognize she's got an interesting country voice, she just doesn't have the presence and persona to compete with the other finalists at this stage. I give her props for performing with gusto and physically engaging with the performance, but it seemed too forced coming from this sweet 17-year-old. While the judges all had nice things to say, I don't see RaeLynn going beyond this point.
This was Naia
's moment to live up to this cool, reggae, street performer vibe she has going, but unfortunately, it fell a little flat. She certainly sung some beautifully tender moments, but when you're singing an Adele song, you've got to deliver on the emotional highs as well, which seemed to be lacking. They did reveal that Naia preferred to sing the song in her reggae style, but that Blake encouraged her to stick closer to the original, which may have been a factor in her lackluster delivery.
showed promise in her blind auditions and then chocked in her battle round, so when she attempted "total redemption" last night, there were expectations - and they were met. The chorus of "Alone" is far from easy, and Jordis managed to pull off all the vocal stretches, really belting it out the second time with her pop-rock edge. And yet - as much as she improved, she didn't pop as much as Blake's final two singers, so I'd still put her at a mid-Jermaine level.
It's clear they saved the best for last, as Blake's concluding ladies finally gave some excitement to the night. First, Erin Willett
, who unfortunately lost her father during the show, but knowing how he wanted her to pursue her dream of singing, I'd say he'd be mighty proud after last night. Erin's voice has power and character - a combination I think is rare, even in this pool of talent. She also had a great energy while performing and when she hit the climax of the song, her voice was exactly on point without sounding forced in the slightest. As Blake said, her performance was the best technically and passion-wise of the night (thus far).
Then came Charlotte Sometimes
. This performance confirmed what I'd been suspecting about this singer: she's smart and she knows what the audience wants. Yes, she has this quirky, low voice that's intriguing in a good way. But she also knew to choose a song that would showcase a softer side and everything about her performance - from her romantic gown to the way she worked the stage with restraint - was just right. It showed that Charlotte is here to stay and I think she has an undeniable commercial appeal that few have exemplified so far.
I think RaeLynn and Naia will go home. Jermaine and Jordis, in a performance that stunted and one that boosted, respectively, remain in the middle. Erin and Charlotte are the ones to watch.
Opera singer Chris Mann
started off Christina's team with a slow, soothing rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Water." There's no denying he has technical skills and towards the end of the song, the performance became more interesting with his well-executed trills. While I agree with the judges that it was a wonderful, fine performance, I don't think Chris is a winning candidate because of the limited appeal of his style. How many opera songs do you hear on the radio? America's voting, so wide attraction is key going forward, and I don't think Chris has enough of it.
No one would argue Kanye is an extremely successful artist, and that that success comes from more than strictly his singing ability. In the same vein, Moses Stone
has a lot of things going for him: rapping, dancing, stage presence and a decent voice to boot. Yet someone like Kanye is more than a sum of good parts; there is a persona, a character that fuses all those things and Moses' performance last night failed to exude that missing spark. Frankly, I think Christina's excitement around Moses (at least in the context of The Voice
) seems overstated.
, with her absorbing indie restraint, has a lot of promise. Her creepy set-up with the masked, puppet-like dancers seemed to be a good stage for her eccentric voice and individuality, and while she sang well in her own arrangement of the song, there seemed to be just one piece missing. Then there was the fact that after her critique (Adam said it needed just a little bit more strength), she looked like she was on the verge of tears. I doubt it was wholly a response to Adam's overall positive remarks, so whatever was behind that might speak to the missing piece. It seems like Lindsey is holding something back, for whatever reason. I think if she can figure that out and really come to the table fully engaged, she could be a contender.
We remember Sera Hill
as the diva whose idol and judge joined her on stage during her blind audition. Considering last night's performance, I would have to say Sera has subtly somehow fallen to the back of the pack (I initially chose her as one of Christina's top picks). It's not that her performance was to fault. Maybe it was the chiseled topless man surrounding her on stage (who certainly distracted Blake) who took away from Sera. Or the fact that her voice seemed to stay at one diva-level frequency the whole way through, resulting in an unexciting finish. Whatever the reason, Sera didn't move forward in a night when others did.
On a show like The Voice
, being forgettable is the last thing you want. And of the talent last night, Ashley De La Rosa
was probably the most forgettable one going in - until she sang. As Adam confirmed, she was by far the most improved singer of the night. Though only 17, she exhibited a charm, even at times a cheekiness, while remaining genuine and having fun at the same time without looking like she was trying to defy her age (unlike the other 17-year-old of the night). After such a breakthrough performance, I'd say Ashley shot from the bottom to the near-top.
Oh, Jesse Campbell
. If there was someone who took home the gold for the first live performances, it was Jesse. Unlike Team Blake, where a couple solid artists share the top in terms of candidacy, Team Christina has an unmistakable #1 in Jesse. He sang "What a Wonderful World" with a voice so melodic, so smooth, yet dynamic enough to prevent it from being a sleeper that it brought us all back to what this show is about, which is an undeniable voice. Even if Jesse lacked in other areas, his voice would be more than enough (which you can't say for many of the other contestants). He is an epitome of the show's philosophy, and if any of Team Christina's other teammates want a chance at the ultimate prize, they're going to have to step it up hard.
Moses Stone and perhaps Sera Hill (though she may be likable enough to carry her through) will go home (or if not Sera, Chris Mann). Ashley saved herself this week and Lindsey seemed to reach a fork in the road in terms of winning potential. The one to watch and who will most likely be in that final four is Jessie.
So there's an analysis of all the performances and what they mean in terms of the next elimination round. Now it's time to cast your thoughts: who do you think were the standout acts of the night? Did anyone surprise you? Do you think Team Blake or Team Christina had a stronger showing? Feel free to sound off in the comments below!
(Image courtesy of NBC)