March 26th, 2015 · No Comments
March 26th, 2015 · No Comments
March 25th, 2015 · No Comments
by Lyn Jensen
Last night The Voice showed three knockouts–where the judges compare two contestants’ performances and send one home, unless another judge “steals” to place the contestant on another team. I disagreed with every decision. Maybe the judges were thinking too far ahead–they looked to be stocking up with some easy decisions for future cuts. Here’s who was kept and cut and stolen:
First knockout: Team Blake, Corey Kent White vs. Cody Wickline
Blake matches his two remaining male country vocalists.
A. Cody Wickline shows a sweet voice and romantic side with “Til my Last Day (I’ll be Lovin’ You).” He’s also the more mature and experienced of the two.
B. Country teen phenomenon Corey Kent White sings Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” for his ailing grandfather.
The judges are divided. Christina loved Cody’s tenderness and soul, and Pharrell agrees there were “some interesting colors.” Adam, however, thinks Corey could win because of the “passion” he showed. Maybe that’s why Blake picks Corey and nobody steals Cody. White’s a good singer but he’s an inexperienced singer and I doubt he stands a better chance of winning the season than Wickline would have.
Second knockout: Team Adam, Blaze Johnson vs. Deanna Johnson
Blake calls this match-up “Johnson vs. Johnson” and that’s as good a reason as any for Adam matching these two. He says something about they’re both unique–but isn’t that something that can be said of any contestant? (They’re both church singers, maybe there’s a connection there.)
A. Blaze puts some gospel-tinged soul into a contemporary grunge-rock hit, “You Found Me.” He’s one of the better black R&B singers the show’s featured this season. “Not many guys look like me, sing songs like this,” he says. He shows himself to be a powerhouse comparable to Eddie Vedder.
B. Deanna at her best has a different kind of power, a versatile voice that may be compared to Linda Ronstadt–but she appears far from ready to win this competition. She sings a shaky “Listen to Your Heart.” She accompanied by just a piano, so the judges can hear every flaw.
Blake immediately points out Deanna’s pitch issues. Christina criticizes her performance as well. Pharrell observes, “Blaze, you’re a little more prepared for it.” So Adam picks Deanna and lets Blaze walk. Then he’s got the nerve to hug his contestant good-bye. Levine’s prattling on about “more to discover” and “some kernel of genius.” Was this a pity vote, or was Levine listening with his eyes, or was he simply wanting to make the next round of cuts easier on himself?
Third knockout: Team Pharrell, Hannah Kirby vs. Caitlin Caporale
Pharrell must choose between two girl singers with different styles but neither one’s performance shows much style in this round.
A. TV talent contests almost always have that one contestant who sounds brilliant one round and terrible the next. On season 8 of The Voice, my candidate for that contestant is Kirby. She was so brilliant on classic rock–but she wants to do a pop song this round, so she makes a terrible song choice with the moldy seventies’ oldie, “Higher Love.” Instead of sounding like a blues-rock hurricane, she just sounds loud and shrill. Blaming the song choice is too easy–great singers can sing anything, but Kirby’s plainly not in her element.
B. Caporale, on the other hand, is in her element, with a ballad that shows her great dynamic voice. She works the stage better than Kirby, too.
Adam and Blake both rave about Hannah, however, like they didn’t even see or hear what they just heard and saw. Pharrell notes his choice is between Caitlin, who turns inward, compared to Hannah, who “lets all her feelings out.” He rightfully determines Caitlin is “consistent with who she is.” Pharrell chooses Caitlin Caporale and Blake promptly steals Hannah Kirby back. (He has a history of eliminating people, then changing his mind.) He could have stolen Blaze Johnson or Paul Pfau, and singers like Lowell Oakley and Tonya Boyd-Cannon are still on the board. Maybe Blake’s already thinking he wants to keep Sarah Potenza, Meghan Linsey and one of his country girls, and is going to let the rest of his team walk?
Final knockout rounds continue for three hours next Monday and Tuesday. Christina’s the only judge left who can steal. We know it can’t be from her team, and she’ll sit on it ’til the last knockout of Tuesday night, if previous seasons are any indication. A look at the board shows she’ll only have a chance with five singers. Which five?
March 24th, 2015 · No Comments
Now season 8 of The Voice enters the knockout round, with the judges once again matching up contestants and halving their teams. Each judge only gets one steal, meaning they need to figure out which one singer is a must-have.
First knockout: Team Christina, Ashley Morgan vs. Sonic
Christina must choose between her two female pop vocalists.
A. Ashley goes first and presents herself as a belter, flashing back to the eighties with Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker.”
B. Sonic goes second and shows a bluesy, sultry side with an Alicia Keys song. Actually this might have been a better match if both women had shown the same style–either edgy retro-eighties pop-rock or something soulful and bluesy.
Christina picks Sonic, explaining later that, “Ashley could have given a showstopper performance and she fell just a little bit short.” Nobody steals Morgan.
Second knockout: Team Blake, Sarah Potenza vs. Brian Johnson
Blake says, “These two singers are so powerful it wouldn’t be fair to put them up against any other vocalist.” He later adds, “Whoever can show control over their power” is who he’ll keep.
A. Potenza explains she can relate to “Wasted Love,” a song introduced on The Voice by season 7 finalist Matt McAndrew, because that’s how she felt when she and her husband were separated for six years. She milks drama out of every word of the power ballad, giving it more of a barroom feel than McAndrew did.
B. Maroon 5 fan Johnson goes in the direction of British singer James Morrison (not to be confused with Jim Morrison), picking “Nothing Ever Hurt Like You,” giving it an upbeat hip vibe.
Blake picks Sarah but Adam steals Brian. The good thing is, one Maroon 5 fan is united with his favorite frontman. The bad thing is, it’s only the second knockout and Adam’s out of steals.
Third knockout: Team Adam, Nate Hermida vs. Clinton Washington
Adam pairs two of his edgier male pop vocalists. He says Nate’s reserved and needs to let it out, while Clinton needs to rein his power in.
A. Hermida choses gay singer Sam Smith’s ballad, “Leave Your Lover (Leave Him to me),” turning his performance into a statement.
B. Washington says that, with so many R&B singers on Team Adam, he wanted to go with something different, so he takes Hunter Hayes’ contemporary country hit, “Wanted,” and gives it a jazzy pop-style delivery.
Blake comments afterwards, “Nathan just sang a duet with himself,” noting the way that Hermida can move in and out of his falsetto range. Adam says he liked how Clinton showed his versatility but, “Nathan, you finally opened up” and “you showed your heart to everybody.” Adam keeps Nathan Hermida. Washington is out.
Third knockout: Team Pharrell, Sawyer Fredericks vs. Mia Z vs. Paul Pfau
Pharrell calls Sawyer, Mia, and Paul together and tells them Anthony Riley had to drop out “for personal reasons” so three singers will have to compete, with two being kept and one cut. (He’d probably planned to match Paul against Anthony.) All three singers’ song selections show a bluesy side.
A. Mia Z sings “Hold On, I’m Comin'” which was a Sam and Dave song back in the sixties. She’s shrill and nasal and already sounds like she’s got no chance to win–not against this season’s competition.
B. Maroon 5 fan Paul shows a great classic blues-rock groove with “I Don’t Need no Doctor.”
C. Sawyer, who at 15, is breaking out as a great natural talent, generating much of this season’s buzz, performs the song “Collide” with his own distinct style. The song isn’t impressive, but his vocals are. Adam praises the result, noting, “the way you filled the room.”
For some reason the judges prefer Mia. First Pharrell makes certain nobody else will get Sawyer Fredericks. He’ll keep this guy as long as he can, knowing this is someone every other judge wants. The audience is shouting overwhelmingly to keep Paul, but Pharrell keeps Mia and cuts Paul anyway. Afterwards he makes some kind of explanation about how he didn’t have anywhere he could go with Paul. (I’m not sure he has anywhere to go with Mia, either.) Adam can’t steal Paul because he already stole Brian Johnson, this season’s other Maroon 5 fan, and neither Christina nor Blake show any interest.
Fourth knockout: Team Blake, Meghan Linsey vs. Travis Ewing
Blake pairs Meghan Linsey, who he knows from her days as a signed country artist, with bluesy Southerner Travis Ewing.
A. Linsey gives “Natural Woman” a country-rock makeover.
B. Ewing gives Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Want to be” a classic rock flavor, turning it into a story-song.
Ewing’s performance was his best of the season but Blake picks Linsey and nobody steals Ewing.
Fifth knockout: Team Christina, Kimberly Nichole vs. Koryn Hawthorne
Christina must choose between her female R&B vocalists. Nichole’s more like a rock singer in the Tina Turner mold, while Hawthorne’s a case of classic gospel-tinged “old school.” We know both of these singers will be kept because we’ve been teased about a steal.
A. Kimberly, despite her rock style, picks a ballad, Sting’s “If you Love Somebody, Set Them Free.” She plays up its reggae aspect, and the result shows some resemblance to Season 5 winner Tessanne Chin.
B. It’s the 16-year-old Hawthorne who demonstrates she can rock, showcasing her big powerhouse voice (for such a slender body) with Pink’s “Try.”
Christina keeps Kimberly Nichole, thwarting Pharrell’s desire to get that contestant back on his team. Then she runs to Blake and begs him to use his steal. (Who’s she to tell another judge what to do?) Pharrell pushes his button and steals Koryn Hawthorne. If he can’t have Kimberly, he’ll take Koryn.
Tonight we’ll see six more singers, with three going home, unless Christina or Blake steal one.
March 24th, 2015 · No Comments
March 22nd, 2015 · No Comments
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March 22nd, 2015 · No Comments
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