Beginning next week, fans will have the opportunity for vote for Red Marlow, Keisha Renee and Chloe Kohanski from Team Blake and Davon Fleming, Noah Mac and Shi’Ann Jones of Team Jennifer.
With one exception, I have no qualms with those selections. The exception is Chris Weaver. I don’t know what more a guy could do to deserve a spot in the finals.
I have biggest qualms with the show itself, including …
1. The lack of fan voting — Cutting fans out of the selection process for finalists is the same as telling them their opinion doesn’t matter. Which isn’t exactly the message I’d think The Voice would want to send after seemingly rigging Season 12 to prevent another Team Blake / county singer victory.
2. Coaches picking the songs — Last week, much was made of the contestants selecting their own songs for the knockout round. So this week, with even more on the line, the song selection goes back to the coaches? That makes no sense. It made ever less sense considering some of their song choices.
3. The audio interruptions — This actually happened on The Voice, a show that prides itself on focusing on the voices. Noah Mac is singing “Glitter in the Air” and the audio cuts away to Miley proclaiming, “He’s hot.” Message to The Voice: That isn’t hot. When the singers are performing, let us listen to the singers. The coaches have enough time — more than enough time — to voice their opinions on this show.
On to song by song grades for tonight’s performances.
Team Jennifer Hudson
Song: “I Am Changing” from Dreamgirls
My take: I wasn’t thrilled with the song choice for Davon. I was thrilled by that vocal. I mean, he delivered not one, but four or five “wow” vocal moments over the course of that performance. Grade: A
Song: “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins
My take: Great job by Noah doing his own arrangement of a Phil Collins song I’m not really a fan of. In fact, I think I liked Noah’s version better. Yep, Blake, it was pretty silly to let him go. I can see Noah catching fire in this competition. Grade: B+
Song: “California Soul” by Marlena Shaw
My take: I love Chris’ deep rich tone. I did not love this song choice. It didn’t give Chris the chance to cut loose vocally like we know he can. I mean, Jennifer keeps referring to him as a vocal freight train. Let him be one. Still, he reminded us of his vocal power and his stage presence. Grade: B.
Song: “Tattooed Heart” by Ariana Grande
My take: Shi’Ann has a great tone, a great look, tons of potential and delivered a nice glory note. That performance also could have used a few less runs, better enunciation and one less squeak. If Chris and Davon weren’t both so great, I’d suggest Jennifer take a chance with Shi’Ann. Grade: B–
Lucas Holliday (comeback)
Song: “The Beautiful Ones” by Prince
My take: Lucas scores the night’s most fun performance on Team Jennifer. But he was asked to channel Prince, and that’s asking too much of nearly everyone. The ending seemed to thrill Jennifer. It didn’t thrill me. But, wow, no doubt Lucas poor heart and soul into that performance. Grade: C+
Song: “Learn to Let Go” by Kesha
My take: The good news — Hannah wins the award for best ponytail in Voice history. The bad news — this match of singer and song just did not work. It did’t come close to working. Look, Hannah can sing much better than that. So don’t judge her too harshly overall based on that single performance. Grade: D.
Team Blake Shelton
Song: “Love Can Build a Bridge” by the Judds
My take: I’m still not sure I’m buying Keisha as a country singer, but there’s no doubt about this. She delivered the most powerful vocal of the night on Team Blake and deserves a spot in the finals. They do call this show The Voice after all. Grade: A–
Song: “Chiseled in Stone” by Vern Gosdin
My take: This was a great song choice. And Red isn’t likely to provide the wow moments of a Davon or Chris, but he’s got a warm, rich comfortable tone that I’m predicting will catch on with the many country fans of The Voice. In fact, I won’t be surprised if he outlasts some of the vocal acrobats. That was my favorite Red performance yet. Grade: B+
Song: “Time after Time” by Cyndi Lauper
My take: Well, that sure was an unimaginative song choice. I mean, how many times has “Time After Time” been done on The Voice. Chloe has a great tone and the last 30 seconds of that performance were reminiscent of her “Landslide” success. But isn’t keeping your eyes open lesson one in connecting with an audience. Grade: B
Song: “Callin’ Baton Rouge” by Garth Brooks
My take: Told you she could play a mean fiddle. Thing is, Natalie probably should have played fiddle a little less and used her vocal skills a little more during this fun performance. Look, as a comeback artist, I think her odds of making the finals are small. Regardless, be sure to check out her original music. If you like country music, I think you’ll find some treats you’ll enjoy. Grade: B–
Song: “Heaven” by Bryan Adams
My take: Mitchell sounded so good singing “Mr. Jones” a couple of week ago. And “Take My Hand” by Hootie in the blinds. So Blake has him singing a Bryan Adams ballad? This one didn’t work out nearly as well. Blake should have kept Mitchell in the alternative rock lane. Grade: C–
Song: “How Do I Live?” by Leann Rimes
My take: The less said, the better. As with Hannah above, Esera is better than that performance. He has to be to have made it all the way to the playoffs. Grade: D–