We’ve officially made it to the Top 10 on The Voice season 12, and the stakes are higher than ever. Both Gwen and Alicia are down to one artist, but that doesn’t leave them at a disadvantage considering the strength of their remaining singers. Two artists are going home in this round, so things are moving quickly now.
In celebration of Mother’s Day, each singer gets to bring their mother to rehearsals to meet the coaches, and their song choices are dedications to the most important women in their lives. The competition is heating up, so let’s see who can give their best performance to get the edge as we move towards the finale!
Jesse Larson (“Jungle Love”)
Jesse brings his step-mom to rehearsals with him, and Adam wears his best Hawaiian shirt to meet her. The song choice for this performance is the most difficult Jesse has had to tackle thus far, as the genre is far different that what he usually covers. Adam’s hope is that this one will make Alicia spontaneously combust.
All suited up, Jesse takes the stage with more energy than we’ve ever seen him and delivers some serious charisma. He even adds his trusty guitar, taking over the tail end of the performance with a killer riff. Adam is incredibly amped after this one, calling Jesse a superstar.
Aliyah Moulden (“Jealous”)
Aliyah brings both her mother and grandmother to meet Blake, and Aliyah tells Blake that her grandmother is a singer too. For the first time in the competition, Aliyah slows things down and gets deeply personal with a song choice that’s dedicated to her father and the fact that she never got to know him.
In addition to exposing a new side of Aliyah’s voice, this slow, melodic song choice also provides a platform for her to bring a more peaceful, stoic presence to the stage. The emotional impact of the performance is felt powerfully by Aliyah, who breaks down in tears toward the end. Her vulnerability is such a testament to how much she pours into her music.
Vanessa Ferguson (“Doo Wop (That Thing)”)
Vanessa brings her mother to meet Alicia and notes the glow that Alicia exudes in person, which her mother notices as well. Since Lauryn Hill is the artist who inspires Vanessa the most, Alicia gives her the superstar’s most popular and difficult song to perform. Vanessa sports a yellow power suit and a new hairdo for the most upbeat performance we’ve seen from her yet, and she works the crowd like a true star. It’s not often we see contestants attempt to rap on stage, and Vanessa makes it look effortless. The intensity of the rap verses in this song take an incredible amount of energy and skill, and she manages to keep enough gas in the tank through it all to nail a powerhouse finish.
Adam dishes out a heavy compliment, telling Vanessa that Lauryn Hill will be proud of that cover of her song. Her coach reminds America that Vanessa really is the entire package. Rapping is just about the only thing we hadn’t seen her do, and she’s capable of anything musically that’s out on the table.
Mark Isaiah (“Sign of the Times”)
Mark brings his mom to meet Adam at rehearsals, and Adam flatters her by claiming he thought she was Mark’s sister. As young as Mark is, being in the bottom two in back-to-back weeks has left him surprisingly unrattled. Switching gears this time to create a sense of intimacy with the audience, Mark chooses to slow it down and play the piano for the opening of Harry Styles’ current hit.
This one is a bit rocky for Mark, but that’s coming from someone who has never been a huge fan of Mark’s musicality. Some of the notes seem to be a stretch for the teen, and the politically-charged inflections behind the song contradict the romantic angle he takes with the performance. However, the coaches appear to be proud of the effort Mark put into the song he chose himself.
Blake Shelton Performs
Since we’re down to 10 contestants but still need to fill a full two hours of television, Blake Shelton steps in to perform one of his latest hits. The best part of this performance is when the camera moves to Gwen and she’s singing along with him.
Chris Blue (“24K Magic”)
Chris brings his mother to meet Alicia for rehearsals, and the two sing his praises and humility. His mother also offers over her belt to Alicia as a second mom. In a fitting song choice for Chris and his mom’s mutual spunky attitude, he chooses the Bruno Mars Top 40 song to have fun and show off his dance moves, which is bound to make every viewer excited.
The flair of this performance gets the crowd buzzing, and Chris can seriously bust a move, and this audience absolutely goes wild for it. Three out of the four coaches give him a standing ovation, and Alicia praises Chris’ own vision for the performance. My only criticism is the lack of powerhouse vocal moments in sacrifice of the glitz and glam of the stage show, but we all know the man can sing.
Lilli Passero (“Unforgettable”)
Lilli Passero introduces her mother to Adam Levine, and she talks about how big it is for her mom as a fellow singer to nail a song. In an effort to nail down that timeless-meets-current combination that Lilli is searching to take ownership of as an artist, she and Adam tackle a Nat King Cole classic that’s never been performed on The Voice.
Yet again, Lilli takes the stage in a showstopping gown and this time lets her voice speak for itself as she stands at the mic during the entire song. Her former coach, Alicia, expresses an understanding of who Lilli wants to be as an artist and the restraint and artistic liberty she took with the arrangement of the song.
Lauren Duski (“Tell Me Why”)
Double Duski shows up for rehearsal as Lauren brings her mother to meet Blake. Lauren decides to kick it up a notch with her first upbeat song of the competition, with Blake chipping in on the producing end. Wynonna Judd, the artist behind the song that Lauren is taking on, even gives her a call to encourage her to make this version her own.
Lauren officially carves out a niche for herself with this performance, showcasing versatility in style and speed of song choice. Gwen calls her a “living country Barbie doll with a guitar,” and I’m not certain whether or not Lauren actually takes that as a compliment. Blake, on the other hand, delivers sincere compliments with a bit more depth by calling her the missing piece in country music right now. I officially have become a fan of Lauren Duski after this one.
Hunter Plake (“Higher Love”)
Hunter brings his mother to meet Gwen and describes how she believed in him and encouraged him to begin drumming at a young age. The song choice for Hunter this time around is perfection, and he continues to constantly surprise with the style of music he presents. As usual, Hunter and Gwen work flawlessly together to compose a version of the song that strays true to the original melody but brings a current twist.
Watching and listening to a Hunter Plake performance is consistent in the way that each experience is completely unique. The artistry behind what Hunter does is remarkable, and he and his coach are sure to pair up in the future, regardless of the outcome.
TSoul (“At This Moment”)
TSoul and Mama Soul head to meet Blake, and his first exclamation is “Your Mama is tiny!” Typical Blake. Staying consistent with the vintage style that defines his sound, Blake chooses a classic but encourage him to “decorate” the song with his own inflection.
Looking as dapper as ever, TSoul gives a performance that’s perfectly balanced with restraint. He colors the original song with just enough flair and restraint to create a professional, balanced performance. Blake boldly reassures TSoul that he gave his best performance yet and has cemented his spot in the Top 8.
Brennley Brown (“Anyway”)
Brennley shows up with her doppelganger/mother, matching boots and all, to rehearsals. Gwen and Brennley decide to serve up a slow-burning country ballad that Brennley calls her life song. As overstated as it often is, it feels necessary to repeat that the power behind her voice is beyond her 15 years.
The one criticism I have of Brennley’s performance is the overuse of those major vocal moments. If they aren’t balanced, those notes can become distracting. However, there’s no doubt that she will skyrocket to the top of the iTunes charts and cruise to the finale. Gwen has a dynamic duo on her hands this season.
What do you think of the Top 10 performances? Which two artists are going to be sent home? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC.
(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)