Reviews

‘The Voice’ Review: Second Battle Rounds Concludes as New Play-offs Begin

THE VOICE -- "Battle Round 2" Episode 613 -- Pictured: (l-r) Brittnee Camelle, Jake Barker -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

The last night of the second bout of battle rounds concluded this past Monday on The Voice and coaches, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Shakira and Usher still had some tough decisions to make in determining who would fill out their teams, as well as round out the twenty contestants that would make it into Tuesday night’s newly formulated ‘Play-off Rounds’.  Oh, and let’s not forget that Blake was still holding out to snag his final ‘Steal’ to close out his team.  Let’s get started with Monday night’s two hour finale of the battles.

Shakira kicked off the night with the pairing of team mates Dani Moz and Clarissa Serna. After watching their first round of battle competitions, Shakira gave their selection of song choices for the two to agree on.  Both women selected the Pink hit “Perfect” and when returning to rehearse in front of not only their coach, but sole advisor, Chris Martin from the band Cold Play, they were given clear advise on not to overdo the song.

Dani and Clarissa both were really trying their hardest with the song, but at times it seemed as if they were outdoing one another.  When the ladies took to the stage to perform, I personally felt that Dani just stood out a lot more than Clarissa.  I loved Clarissa’s earlier performances but during this battle, she just seemed to stay the same.  Dani, on the other hand, has grown and pushed herself to do more; mainly becoming more energetic throughout their performance.  In the end, it would be Dani that would move on to the play-offs.

For Team Adam, my favorite performer, Kat Perkins went toe-to-toe with the duo of Dawn and Hawkes.  They chose the song, “Suddenly I See” by K.T. Tunstall.  I won’t deny that I just didn’t connect with Dawn and Hawkes since watching their performances on stage.  They both are a great duo together and they both have wonderful harmonies, however, you just can’t really stand out when you’re singing within your comfort zone each time.  Kat, on the other hand, is a rocker and has a lot of edge to her voice, so her taking on this song was going outside of the box.

The trio blended very well together and they all had spot on harmonies that just connected.  During their performance I noticed that Kat pretty much pushed Dawn and Hawkes to the background level, even to the point where during their performance, Kat stepped out right in front of them to cross over to the other side of the stage.  It was as if she were saying, “step aside, I’m winning this battle’; and she did.  She just owned the whole battle hands down.  I for one am looking forward to seeing what she can do come the play-offs.

It as Usher’s turn to bring his two team members together in Monday’s episode and that was Music Box and Melissa Jimenez.  They both took on the song “Girl on Fire”.  I think Music Box really wanted to do the song so she could showcase how big she could belt out her notes.  For her, at times when she does that, her emotion of the song gets lost as she sings.

Melissa, on the other hand, has the ability to connect with the song she’s singing and she did just that in their performance against one another. She just hit each of those notes and she did it without going over the top.  Unfortunately, I pretty much didn’t connect with Music Box’s portion of the performance.  She did a good job, but she just sounds too much the same during the course of her performances.  Melissa really stepped up her game and moved on for the next challenge in the competition.

Blake put together Kaleigh Glanton and Ryan Whyte Maloney together to do their duet type battle with the song “Easy” by Rascal Flatts featuring Natasha Bedingfield. During their rehearsals I definitely could hear the pitch issues that Blake was talking about to Kaleigh.  She also had a problem with breaking out of her shell; becoming somewhat reserved when she was on stage.  Ryan, on the other hand, has power in his voice but has a tendency to become wild with his vocals to the point where they sound a bit over the top.  Ryan definitely won out over Kaleigh due to his stronger stage presence.

The final team members of Adam’s was that of Jake Barker and Brittnee Camelle.  I simply love Jake’s voice so I was waiting, just as I was for Kat’s, for his performance that night.  Remember, Adam stole both of these performers from Usher, so I wasn’t surprised when Adam gave them their song selections to choose from, that Usher’s song, “Climax” would be one of them.  It would be the song they would choose.

Jake definitely wanted to step out of the box and challenge his voice, and he did it with this song.  There was tons of falsettos in there.  During their rehearsal, Adam and Chris both shared that Brittnee and Jake needed to really be comfortable not only with the song, but with each other as they performed.  I just thought they would be the team that would make it difficult for Adam to decide on.

In their performance, while Brittnee stood out more on the stage, it was Jake’s spot on falsetto’s and use of his lower register that pushed her out of the competition.  Both had great performances, but Jake’s gamble with taking a huge risk paid off for him in the long run.

The final battle to close out the night was that of Usher’s team. Two of the youngest contestants on the show was that of Bria McLaughlin and Madilyn Paige.  These two ladies are so cute and I love both of their voices, so I was a bit questionable as to how Usher felt on them taking on the song “I’ll Stand by You” by the Pretenders.  They both were so nervous with the song. Bria had some shaky moments with the song and so did Madilyn.  It was Madilyn, however that really wowed me, because she finally a way to connect to the song to bring out some emotion. While Usher kept Bria, Blake, having his lone steal, snatched up Madilyn on to her team.

With the wrapping up of the battle rounds, Tuesday night was the night to kick off the first ever Play-offs.  This time out, the twenty contestants that are in the running for a spot on the live shows must bring their “A” game in order to secure themselves a spot in the Top 12.  Their coaches each will evaluate their performances and then decide at the end of their team’s performances which three will remain and which two will be eliminated.

It was all about Team Blake for the first night of the play-offs.  He started the night off by having Audra McLaughlin performing the song, “A Broken Wing” by Martina McBride.  In her confessional, she admitted that she saw herself as being that of Martina and she wanted to do her song as a comeback on all of those who told her that she couldn’t fulfill her dreams of singing.

I loved Audra’s performance.  She was spot on and she really showed emotion on stage.  I agreed with Usher sharing that Audra’s voice has become more powerful and polished.

Ryan Whyte Maloney took on the song “Second Chance” by Shine Down and Blake was somewhat worried by the choice.  I thought he did a fantastic job and I was really blown away with how he extended that one note toward the end of the song.  I, too, was worried about his vocals, because Ryan tends to showcase too much when bringing on the power in his voice.  He had my full attention and I was very impressed.

Up next was Madilyn Paige, the youngest in the competition.  She chose the song, “Clarity” by Zedd featuring Foxes.  Madilyn has a lot of growth to develop, after all, she is still young.  She did a pretty good job of finding her emotions in the song, however, there are times where she continues to display caution when she sings. As Adam put it, she’s so afraid to mess up, and that hinders her.

Can I just say, I’m so glad that Jake Worthington returned to compete in this season’s show?  He may be the underdog, but he’s surprising everyone each time he performs.  He performed the song “Anywhere with You” by Jay Cohen. The awesome thing about Jake is that he knows how to choose the right song to suit his voice. I loved that he dedicated the song to his girlfriend of three years.  It’s not just the fact that Jake improves each time as he sings, it’s his overall humble attitude that I love about him.

The final singer of the night for Blake was Sisaundra Lewis.  I love how much experience she has vocally.  She’s so poised, yet such a powerhouse it’s scary.  If Blake plays his cards right and gives her the right song choices throughout the competition, he could possibly win for a fourth time.    She chose Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” and the woman killed it.  She owned that song to the point where I wished she were performing it on stage with Billy Joel himself.

My Predictions on Blake’s Choices

I love when it’s time to see who the coaches decide on keeping for their teams and since last night was Blake’s night of competition, I pretty much was guessing who Blake would keep and who Blake would not.

I pretty much predicted as he would in fact choose.  I predicted that Blake would choose Sisaundra, Audra and Jake.  Sure enough, I guessed correctly.  Those are his three strongest singers by far on his team and Blake very well could have the best team that could advance him into the finals; but that all depends on if he can get his team to step out of their comfort zone.

Next week’s Monday and Tuesday’s play-offs are going to be interesting to see. Why?  Because those nights while the competition heats up for either Shakira, Usher or Adam, there will be someone that will crack under the pressure of it all.  It looks like from the previews, it could be trouble for Adam’s team, based on his comments.  We will all have to wait and see what’s going to go down on those nights.

Tune in to The Voice Monday and Tuesday 8/7C.