May 15th, 2016 · No Comments
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May 10th, 2016 · No Comments
by Lyn Jensen
By this stage of The Voice, it’s apparent who the finalists are going to be: Alisan Porter, Laith Al-Saadi, and Adam Wakefield. Those are the singers who are competing to win the season. Who the fourth (and maybe fifth) finalist is going to be–that’s barely relevant, because only one person can win, but the last finalist’s slot could well go to Bryan Bautista and/or Mary Sarah.
Last night there were nine singers, after tonight only eight will be left. Next week’s the semi-finals, when there’ll be multiple eliminations. So how is the final field shaping up?
1. Paxton Ingram (Team Blake) is probably more a Radio Disney type than a budding R&B star. He takes a youthful approach to the Whitney Houston hit, “I Want to Dance with Somebody Who Loves me.” It demonstrates his voice isn’t strong enough to compete with this season’s front-runners.
2. Mary Sarah (Team Blake) wants to play guitar while she sings Maren Morris’ current country hit, “My Church,” but Blake advises her to move around instead. “Soldiers want to see you move around,” he says. (She must be getting a lot of soldiers’ votes.) Pharrell critiques her performance, “More freedom to emote … Your best connection to a song.” Adam agrees it was her best, it was like it was her song.
3. Nick Hagelin (Team Christina) hasn’t been getting the level of attention needed to stay in the competition. He’s got the kind of looks, presence, and vocals to get a teen-idol and/or Radio Disney audience, but that hasn’t been getting him votes (or iTunes downloads). His song choice is Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” and Christina advises him to get “all Brian McKnight” on the vocal runs. The judges praise both the singing and the performance, but the fact remains–he just barely escaped being cut last week. (He got an Instant Save). That means he needs to jump over someone else (like Paxton or Shalyah) to stay, and such a jump isn’t likely.
4. Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell) shows her weaknesses–she’s singing a big dramatic ballad (“Say You Love Me”) but she lacks a big dramatic voice. Blake likes it, and Pharrell talks about, “graceful” and “tender,” but that wasn’t what I heard.
5. Shalyah Fearing (Team Adam) attempts a message song, Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.” She starts out like a torch singer, showing off her strengths–some big broad emotional textures and colors. Then she gets too emotional, oversinging, overdoing it, and shows off her lack of range. Overall she’s shaky–not finale material.
6. Laith Al-Saadi (Team Adam) shows a more intimate side with keyboard-playing and a Bob Seger power ballad, “We’ve Got Tonight.” He has the same kind of smoky whiskey voice as Seger–and sufficient range to be able to put on an entire concert. Adam says the performance stopped the whole room. Pharrell urges votes “for that guy that always loved classic rock,” even though Laith’s on Adam’s team. (Sorry he’s not on yours, Pharrell?)
7. Adam Wakefield (Team Blake) has enough range for an entire concert, too. Once again, however, he insists on getting more soulful than country-fried, copying Bonnie Riatt’s version of “Love Has No Pride.” However, this is one time when his soulfulness works. Christina says she had a dream about him last night. Blake says lots of girls “are having dreams about you.” He thinks it was his best performance.
8. Alison Porter (Team Christina) turns in her weakest performance, rocking her way through “Cryin'” that was a hit for Aerosmith. Her performance is more about acting and personality than a voice, and her lack of a bottom end is showing once again. Christina and Pharrell like it, but Alison needs to stay away from material that requires a strong bottom.
9. Bryan Bautista (Team Christina) sings Beyoncé (specifically her “1+1”). Put this together with his other recent performances and he shows a broad enough range to compete with the top half of this field. Adam especially likes the way he’s so impressive in his falsetto upper register.
Two more weeks and we’ll have a Season 10 Voice champ. Then it’ll be a long wait for fall and Season 11.
May 10th, 2016 · No Comments
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May 5th, 2016 · No Comments
May 3rd, 2016 · No Comments
by Lyn Jensen
Before the top ten contestants sang on The Voice last night, special guests Michelle Obama and Jill Biden appeared to say that this is Military Appreciation Month and there were members of the armed services in the Voice audience this evening. Then not a word was said about appreciating the military for the rest of the show. Hey, NBC, how about truly supporting the military by expressing the hope they all come home safely and soon?
Maybe performing for the First Lady, Second Lady, and military guests did motivate the singers, because just about everyone put on a performance, instead of just singing. With perhaps two exceptions, everyone had an outstanding night:
1. Daniel Passino (Team Pharrell), the opera-trained singer, puts some edginess into his performance, singing “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” It’s a nice song but both Christina and Pharrell point out pitch issues. Given that Passino narrowly escaped the cut line last week, this performance probably isn’t going to be enough. To stay, he likely needed needed somebody else to bomb–and nobody else did.
2. Shaylah Fearing (Team Adam) remains young and inexperienced, and her youth isn’t being turned to her advantage the way Season 4 winner Danielle Bradbery’s was. Adam says she’s only one performance away from the top three–but her performance of “My Kind of Love” sounds overlong. (Her iTunes sales today aren’t impressive, either.) Blake says she bought herself more time–note, he said, “more time,” not “stay ’til the finale.” Adam says, “Vote this girl through because I want her to do Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama” next week.” The problem with that plan is, even if Fearing is in the top nine, many viewers may still be remembering what La Porsha Renae did with that song on American Idol mere weeks ago.
3. Nick Hagelin (Team Christina) does an impressive job of copying Michael Jackson’s soulful vibratto and falsetto range on “I Can’t Help It.” Christina assures him, “America is your A&R right now,” concerning his future in music. However, his future on The Voice may be another matter. He’s barely ahead of Shaylah Fearing on the iTunes chart, and she’s barely cracking top 75.
4. Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell) sings an Adele song, “Rolling in the Deep,” and Pharrell thinks she has a lot in common with Adele. The problem is, she’s singing Adele’s pure pop with a mid-America twang. She’s in the top half of the field on iTunes but she’ll probably have to forge her own style if she’s going to stay ahead of her competition.
5. Laith Al-Saadi (Team Adam) is bringing classic blues back to the mainstream American pop scene. All his music on iTunes is selling well, after Pharrell urged viewers to seek out all of his back iTunes catalog last week. He blues-shouts and shreds his way through great blues guitarist-vocalist B. B. King’s “The Thrill is Gone.” Blake cautions him about not focusing on his vocals but Adam retorts that he’s showing how he’s multi-talented.
6. Paxton Ingram (Team Blake) performs–not just sings–Celine Dion’s “It’s all Coming Back to Me.” Blake points out in rehearsal how he’s a little sharp–but after the performance, he raves, “You were in the zone–an artist developing before our very eyes!”
7. Mary Sarah (Team Blake) may be the best female country vocalist of the season after all. She may give her best performance yet, her voice going up, and up, and up, at the climax of “Stand By Your Man.” (It’s like reaching for the top note of “The Star-spangled Banner.”) Adam thinks she’s in the zone “of what you are.”
8. Bryan Bautista (Team Christina) sings a Spanish song for his mother. It’s “Promise” by Romeo Santos and Usher. We can add him to tonight’s performers who are in the zone. Adam’s talking about how he’s going to make the finale–but everybody can’t make the finale, Adam. Christina urges the Latino community to show him some love. However, Latin music may be too niche for the mainstream voting base.
9. Alison Porter (Team Christina) shows a more intimate, vulnerable side with “Let Him Fly.” I thought this week Mary Sarah beat her so far as country singing went, but she’s still ahead of all the other contestants on iTunes.
10. Adam Wakefield (Team Blake) had one of his weaker performances last week, so he needs to be in the zone this week. Blake says, “You let up on the gas … put the pedal to the metal.” His choice of Ray Charles’ “I Got a Woman” fits his hard country style, but it’s a bit out of the standard country mold–it’s a much-needed mash-up of bluesy, soulful, and twangy. Wakefield showing us he can play piano well enough for a Charles song is a good idea, too. I’m not sure what Pharrell met by “You are the next one!” but I think he meant the next breakout. (He may have even met “next” finalist.)
According to an Internet source, the season runs another three weeks–top nine, semi-finals, finals. I’m guessing that means the top eight go to the semis, then only four (or five) make it to the final.
I voted for Laith, Adam, Nick, and Daniel, but unless something shocking happens (on the level of Emily Keener being the first finalist to go) Daniel’s going home.