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Song by song grades for the Top 10 on The Voice

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Jesse Larson and Hunter Plake arrive for the Top 10 show on The Voice. (NBC Photo)

Jesse Larson and Hunter Plake arrive for the Top 10 show on The Voice. (NBC Photo)

The Voice is eliminating two contestants this week.

Which means there’s twice as many reasons for fans to be nervous.

Well, that is, unless your favorite is named Lauren Duski, Brennley Brown, Hunter Plake or Chris Blue.

I’m pretty sure no one among that quartet has too much to fear. At least not until next week’s semifinals.

We’ll get a bonus performance from Blake Shelton tonight.

And on tomorrow night’s results show, The Voice is back to its bad habit of shunning past contestants, instead bringing in Maren Morris and Charlie Puth.

Boo!

Tonight, as usual, I’ll be grading the performances as they occur. So follow along. I think you’ll especially enjoy the performances from those two guys pictured above.

See also
Ranking the Top 10 on The Voice
Why The Voice should always feature past contestants
Stephanie Rice: The message was more important than the music

Oh, and I’ve occasionally cautioned readers not to download iTunes songs until after the show ends.

Apparently, the voting rules have changed. Any downloads from 8 p.m. on count as votes.

1. Jesse Larson (Team Adam): Jesse says he’s played guitar on this song many times with his own band, but adds that he’s never been the singer. Like this song choice. It’s a risk,, but the Season 12 finale is looking like a Lauren-Brennley-Chris-Hunter party. And Jesse’s not going to break up that party without taking risks. Yep, nice upbeat way to start the show. Complete with a great guitar solo from Jesse. Followed by a big note that was lacking til that point. The big man even does a little spin move at the end. Adam calls him the most talented guy in the competition. Grade: B+

2. Aliyah Moulden (Team Blake): She’s slowing it down for the first time, singing “Jealous” by Labrinth. She relates the song to the father she never knew because he died when she was so young. Aliyah looks gorgeous, as usual. I really just wish she had waited a couple of years to audition. She displays a wonderful tone, but threw away the end of those first two lines. Wow, she breaks down at the end of the performance. I sorta felt like she was trying to hold her emotions in check through the beginning of the performance, then they got the best of her. Grade: B–

3. Vanessa Ferguson (Team Alicia): She’s going to perform “Doo Wop” by Lauryn Hill, which includes a rap section. Interesting choice. Vanessa says hip-hop is a part of her culture. Let’s see if it works as well as everything else Vanessa has done. Jesse took a risk and it worked. Vanessa is taking one and it isn’t. She seemed really out of breath during that opening. My least favorite Vanessa performance by a mile. Grade: C

4. Mark Isaiah (Team Adam): I’ve been a little rough on Mark. But, remember, he is one of the least experienced of the Season 12 finalists. Heck, Brennley’s probably performed more often at this level than he has. Tonight, he’ll sing “Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles. He’s aiming for a more intimate performance. He starts on the piano. Mark shows off nice range, but he’s delivering another performance filled with bum notes. This should be the week he runs out of second chances. Grade: C–

5. Chris Blue (Team Alicia): He’s taking on “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars, so you know this will be filled with Chris’ dance moves. Chris says he wants to have fun with this performance. Alicia says it will be all his vision. Yep, knew we could count on Chris to get the show back on track. Well, if this was a dance competition, Chris would win. But it’s a singing competition, and there were a couple times when all that moving seemed to affect his vocal slightly. The Voice crowd, however, seemed to love it. Grade: B

6. Lilli Passero (Team Adam): Lilli is going to tackle “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole. Hmm. This is not what I’d call a smart or daring song choice, which is what Lilli needs if she’s going to break up that Brennley-Lauren-Chris-Hunter party I was talking about earlier. Lilli looks so classy and lovely. She sounds good. But Wiki tells me the most popular version of that song was recorded in 1951. Which is part of the reason that performance is likely to be forgettable for Voice fans. Grade: C+

7. Lauren Duski (Team Blake): Blake assures us that Lauren can “wail” and says we’ll see that on this song. She’s singing “Tell My Why” by Wynonna Judd, which is indeed more upbeat than the ballads she’s been serving up week after week. She’s also playing guitar. Does The Voice see Lauren as Carrie Underwood 2.0? Just wondering. That was a perfectly fine performance, but it road a middle ground that might not make a major impression. Blake calls her the missing piece in country music. That might be overstating it a bit. Grade: B

8. Hunter Plake (Team Gwen): He’s tackling “Higher Love” by Steve Winwood. After listening to his version, Gwen is encouraging him to stick closer to the original melody. A bit of a shaky opening for Hunter. I really like the iTunes version of this song. The good news, Hunter found his footing after that first run-through of the chorus. Okay, all in all I expected to like that a lot more than I did. I expected an improvement of the original, which I’m really not a fan of. Well, I’m still not a fan of the song. Grade: B–

9. TSoul (Team Blake): I’m eager to see this performance because the recorded version is my favorite yet from TSoul. He’ll sing “At This Moment” by Billy Vera and the Beaters. Blake is encouraging TSoul to “decorate this one up.” Please no. A little embellishment, but not too much. Please! One of TSoul’s better performances. And a nice ending. I’ll be very interested to see who winds up in the bottom three with Mark Isaiah tomorrow night. Blake calls that the best TSoul has sang so far. Grade: B–

10. Brennley Brown (Team Gwen): She’s going to sing the oft-done “Anyway” by Martina McBride. Brennley says this is her song. People told her she was too young, that she should wait to try something like The Voice, but she decided to sing “Anyway.” And Brennley sang anyway. Really well too. That was a smart song choice for her. Easily the night’s most magical performance. And I’ll be shocked if she doesn’t land on top of everyone on iTunes tomorrow. Welcome to the semifinals, Brennley Brown. Grade: A–

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NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE FINALS?

Voice Season 12 comeback artist Johnny Hayes turned in this performance during Tuesday night's live playoffs, yet somehow missed out on the show's finals. For a recap of the Team Adam oversight, head here.

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