The Voice kicked off its Season 24 playoffs in rousing fashion Tuesday night.
Give the mega-talented Team Niall credit for that. My hunch is that some of the eliminated singers would have advanced if they were on other teams.
As it was, Nini Iris, Mara Justine and Huntley displayed once again why they’re Season 24 front-runners.
So they’ll be Team Niall’s three representatives in the live shows that begin Monday, Dec. 4.
That means the elimination of Claudia B., Alexa Wildish and Julia Roome, the youngest contestant on Season 24, auditioning at age 13.
Julia was Team Niall’s super save, something The Voice didn’t reveal until Tuesday’s show.
I’m not sure what marketing whiz came up with that game plan. Wouldn’t it have been wiser to divulge the super save winners during Monday’s “Road to the Playoffs” clip show?
That way the four chosen artist could give their fans a heads up that they might want to be watching.
Oh, well, let’s turn the focus back to a night of very good music with song by song grades for Team Niall.
Nini Iris, 27, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Song: “River” by Bishop Briggs
Feedback: Gwen called the performance “incredible.” John called her a real star and praised the confidence and skill she shows on stage. Reba questioned her choreography. Niall said he’s constantly blown away by Nini.
My take: That’s what happens when a confident woman with a great voice and a firm grasp on her artistic identity takes the stage. I still don’t think Nini’s delivered her Voice “moment” yet. But I look forward to every one of her Voice performance, and this one sure didn’t disappoint. Oh, and I have no idea what Reba was complaining about regarding her dancing. How about praising those end-of-song ab libs instead. Grade: A
Claudia B., 24, Washington, D.C.
Song: “Talking to the Moon” by Bruno Mars
Feedback: John loved the richness in her voice. Reba loved the way she made the song her own. Niall called the performance beautiful and said the early part of the song gave him goosebumps.
My take: Remember in the knockouts, when Claudia had the choice of staying with Team Niall or being stolen by John Legend. She might have made the wrong choice. Because I’ve gotta think that performance would have been playoff worthy on any other Voice team. Claudia looked like a star and delivered a lovely, emotional vocal. She might have tried to do just a touch too much with the song in the second verse. But that’s understandable, given her competition. Grade: B+
Huntley, 33, Fredericksburg, Va.
Song: “Daylight” by David Kushner
Feedback: Gwen said she can’t believe how amazing Huntley is, calling him masterful. John said he’s already a star and carries himself that way. Niall praised Huntley’s performance of a song he wouldn’t necessarily have picked on his own.
My take: I wasn’t crazy about the nearly spoken opening. But the second Huntley unleashed his rasp, I thought, “Yep, there it is. This guy’s gotta advance.” Those powerful distinctive vocals are very likely to get him to The Voice Season 24 finale. The only reason I’m not grading him quite as high as Mara and Nini is because I felt the dynamics of the song could have been built a little better. Huntley seemed to hit 10 a little too early in the performance. Grade: A–
Julia Roome, 13, Warwick, N.Y.
Song: “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper
Feedback: Gwen loved the emotion in her vocals. John like the versatility this performance showed. Niall expressed his pride in Julia’s efforts on the show.
My take: Here’s the thing about a performance like Julia’s brilliant rendition of “Unstoppable” in the knockouts. It’s tough to top. Especially when you’re 13. Especially when you’re going up against a team full of artists with so much more experience. Julia showed lots of potential here. Check how her voice soared when the song swelled. And that lovely ending. But I sensed some nerves too. Grade: B–
Mara Justine, 21, Galloway, N.J
Song: “You’ve Got the Love” by Florence + The Machine
Feedback: John Legend called it her best moment on the show so far. Gwen Stefani called her an “amazing star already” and added it’s a “no-brainer” that she advance to the lives. Niall said she did “unbelievably well.”
My take: Wow. I remember Mara being impressive as a teen competing on American Idol. I don’t remember her showing this much command of a performance or stage. That was just a rousing performance that screamed, “I’m ready for the live shows. Bring them on.” We heard the cry in her voice. We heard the power in her voice. We heard a potential Season 24 finalist. Grade: A
Alexa Wildish, 34, Orange County, Calif.
Song: “Fields of Gold” by Sting
Feedback: Reba called it a great performance. John says Alexas has her own lane on the show. Niall says Alexa “bleeds” emotion and authenticity. He called Alexa “ridiculously talented.”
My take: Alexa entered the playoffs a dark horse through no fault of her own. She’s a singer-songwriter on a show that rewards big, bombastic performances. And she’s on a team with three artists capable of delivering just that. She turned in a lovely , heartfelt rendition of “Fields of Gold.” But this was a moment that required her to reduce all four judges to tears with the emotion of a song in order to advance. I’m not sure she had the song to do that. Grade: B+