The stakes keep getting higher each week on The Voice season 12, and we’re creeping closer to a Top 10 showdown. Gwen Stefani is the only coach who doesn’t have three singers on her team, as we watched Troy Ramey be eliminated in an intense round of competition. Each singer has been at the top of their game during the live shows, so there’s no clear frontrunner right now. Song choice counts now more than ever, which was evident from the iTunes results last time. Every note counts, so get ready for some high intensity performances, and get your voting fingers ready!

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Stephanie Rice (“Behind Blue Eyes”)

During the Top 12, Stephanie mentioned that she’d like to let loose and “rock out a little bit” if she were to remain in the competition — and rock out she does. In a brilliant move, Alicia has Stephanie change up her usual soft crooning for an edgy take on a rock ‘n roll classic by The Who. As she takes the stage, Stephanie is donning a killer headband and strumming that signature guitar. This song choice is perfect for her because we get to experience the sound that she’s known for during the first half of the performance. Once the tempo picks up, she drops the guitar and works the stage with a new energy that we haven’t seen before.

Gwen praises Stephanie’s ability to grow on the show and expresses that she can’t wait to hear her record. Hopefully, the voters turn out again for Stephanie’s “I am woman, hear me roar” performance.

Aliyah Moulden (“Take It Back”)

Aliyah is dedicating this song choice to her grandmother, who was a Mexican immigrant, and this bluesy country tune feels tailor-made for her enthusiastic powerhouse voice. The growl and rasp that Aliyah achieves during her performance is well beyond her years, and we’re reminded all over again, as Blake mentioned during rehearsals, that she has an incredibly seasoned, well-rounded voice.

Alicia notes that Aliyah has developed a signature style during her performances with the way she moves across the stage and interacts with the band. Aliyah’s confidence and comfort level is noted by Gwen, and Blake praises her weekly improvement. Oh, yes, and we are reminded by each coach that Aliyah is only 15 years old.

TSoul (“Lay Me Down”)

The vintage singer tackles a modern hit for the first time as he rides the feel-good high of winning America’s votes. TSoul discusses how meaningful it was to spend time with his niece at his brother’s wedding and gets emotional during rehearsals of the Sam Smith song.

Perching at the piano for the beginning of the performance, TSoul starts off with a smooth, silky falsetto that we’ve rarely heard from him before — and it’s stunning. No bells and whistles adorn this soft, slow song, and TSoul’s voice simply shines through it. As previewed during rehearsals, he even lies down while singing. TSoul’s brother and niece are in the audience watching, and the crowd goes absolutely nuts during the performance. Blake simply states “Guess what, America? TSoul is a beast.”

Lilli Passero (“Town Without Pity”)

Last time, despite her weakened status as she suffered from an illness, America voted her through. For the Top 11, Adam notes that he’s working double time to ensure that Lilli has the opportunity to reach her full potential with the soulful Gene Pitney classic. Lilli performs in a sultry gold dress, slicked-back hair and a seductive attitude that’s reminiscent of a jazz club performance. She even dishes out a bit of scatting to round it all out.

Alicia praises the song lyrically and Lilli’s ability to lose herself in her connection to the music. Along the same lines, Adam gushes over the way that Lilli transported the show to an entirely different era.

Hunter Plake (“All I Want”)

Gwen is all in on Hunter, and the two really hit it off during rehearsals as they work together on the arrangement of the song choice, which is a chance she rarely takes with her singers. He even hops on the drums at one point to show Gwen one of his ideas for the song. Hunter slows it down this time to showcase his patient falsetto and his ability to make literally any song his own. 

The subtlety of Hunter’s voice makes his style rare for The Voice, as Adam notes, but it’s something to be appreciated. Gwen lays it all out on the table as she begs America to vote Hunter through.

Vanessa Ferguson (“Diamonds”)

For the Top 11, the singers and their coaches are tasked with selecting songs that showcase what kind of artist they would like to be. Vanessa hasn’t quite been at the top with America’s votes, and I think this modern song choice will do wonders for her because her voice is undeniable. Alicia encourages her to ad lib some of the runs during this performance because this is Rihanna, after all. 

As soon as the songs begins, it’s apparent that Vanessa has a light in her eyes, a shine, that we didn’t realize was missing in some of her previous performances. She really does seem alive performing this song, and even Blake admits that Vanessa is the one singer on an opposing team who intimidates him.

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Lauren Duski (“Somewhere in My Broken Heart”)

Blake and Lauren bond over how old they were when they moved to Nashville to pursue country music and discuss the importance of lyrics. As a songwriter, Lauren admits that she’s never written a happy song, and she won’t be singing one for this episode either. Unsurprisingly, Lauren’s performance is emotional and technically flawless, but my same issue with her as a contestant remains. She’s irrefutably an amazing singer, but she doesn’t stand out in a unique way. 

Adam nonchalantly states that there’s no doubt Lauren will make it to the finale, and Blake is left relatively speechless by her performance. She may not stand out to me particularly, but there’s no denying that this singer deserves to have her music on the radio.

Mark Isaiah (“How to Love”)

The teen heartthrob take on a challenging, slow-moving rap song by Lil Wayne to showcase the more rhythmic aspects of his voice. Mark perches on a stool to serenade the audience in a drastic tonal adjustment to Lil Wayne’s original bass level performance. This more pop-infused, candy sweet version suits Mark’s style perfectly, which is almost a shame because it doesn’t really force him to do something entirely different. 

Mark does tackle a challenge with the lyrics and runs included in this song, though, and even Carson recognizes this accomplishment after he concludes. Adam is visibly thrilled by the result, explaining that Mark has selected every song he has performed during the live shows himself. We’re reminded that Mark was in the bottom last time, so we’ll see what happens after this display.

Jesse Larson (“Human”)

Jesse takes on Adam’s current favorite song, which pushes him to utilize the lower register of his vocal range. The two appear to have a blast collaborating on crafting the arrangement for the song, and the result is a spooky performance that’s almost menacing. The darkness in the stage setting and the lighting, combined with Jesse’s simple stage presence and command over the mouthful of lyrics, is actually quite astounding. This could be Jesse’s breakthrough moment in the competition.

Alicia nails the reaction to Jesse’s performance by exclaiming, “That doesn’t even make any sense.” She also mentions that she hopes the song choice causes viewers to recognize and appreciate that song. That’s already happening because my wife is downloading it at this moment.  Adam compares Jesse to season 11’s winner, noting that he might not be a pop singer, but he’s the best singer in the competition.

Brennley Brown (“River”)

After she peaked at number seven on the iTunes charts, Kristin Chenoweth tweeted her praises for the young teen’s ability. After shooting down Brennley’s arrangement adjustments in previous songs, Gwen chirps that they should call Blake to get some background singer to make the Joni Mitchell hit more country. The pair works flawlessly together when they’re on the same page with the details of a song choice.

If you thought Brennley had already peaked as a performer on this show, you were wrong. Of course, she isn’t Joni, but she isn’t meant to be. Brennley is a country singer who is capable of covering a legend’s music and making it her own. The youngest artist in the competition brings a classic song to the present, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch.

Chris Blue (“When a Man Loves a Woman”)

After the five-chair coach standing ovation he earned last time, Chris has some of his own big shoes to fill. What better way to attempt that than to cover one of the most iconic songs of all time? During rehearsals, Alicia preps him to get emotional and work on peeling back some layers of himself for this song. 

We’ve rarely seen such a simplistic version of Chris as in the opening moments of this performance. The classic suit along with the sleek stage setting sets a vibe that creates an avenue that leads to a crossroads between the old and the new. Chris Blue leaves every ounce of emotion on that stage, getting down on his knees by the end to let go of that last note.

What did you think of the Top 11 performances? Who do you think will move on to the top 10? Who will be eliminated? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Voice season 12 airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC. Want more news? Like our Facebook page.

(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)


Contributing Writer, BuddyTV