The Voice Review: Stellar Performances Close Final Nights of the Play-offs

THE VOICE -- "Playoffs" Episode 616 -- Pictured: (l-r) T.J. Wilkins, Melissa Jimenez, Usher, Stevie Jo, Bria Kelly, Josh Kaufman -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

Next week the world will be ready to watch The Voice Top 12 contestants live performances, however, this week’s Monday and Tuesday night episodes wrapped up quite nicely in terms of who would succeed in scoring a spot in that Top 12 from the final nights of the “Play-offs”.  Blake Shelton’s night of deciding who’d stay and who’d have to go home ended, but it was time for Adam Levine, Shakira and Usher to make their hard decisions; and with several contenders who were blowing it out of the water, it was clear that the decisions would be tough.  Let’s start off the review with what went down on Monday night’s episode of The Voice.

Team Shakira opened up the two-hour evening with her team members taking to the stage for their performances.  I will be honest, I was quite surprised with one decision she made in who she was taking forward to the live shows, but I’ll get to that momentarily.  Kristen Merlin opened up the play-offs with a performance of Carrie Underwood’s “Two Black Cadillacs “. I was glad that she didn’t phone it in and sang the song as her own without making it sound like a replica of Carrie’s.

Deja Hall really needed to get out of her instant nervousness whenever it is time for her to compete.  She chose the song “Battlefield” by Jordin Sparks.  It was a good choice on her part to get her out of always singing sweet ballads, forcing her to sing something that had an up-tempo.  Although she was having fun performing the song, I did agree with Usher when he pointed out that at times she over-sang.  A part of me hopes that she gets a chance to compete again when the live shows take place.

Why on Earth did both Usher and Blake give this girl up when they had her on their teams?  Tess Boyer floored the two of them when performing the Christine Perri song, “Human” The girl’s lower register is wicked and when she sings, it’s so crisp.  If she continues to do what she’s doing, she could definitely to continue to be the crowd favorite in the live shows.  Just a side note; I would have loved having the coaches focus on Tess, rather than constant need to banter with one another non-stop.  While I do love their bantering with one another, there are times where it’s just too much and takes away from the artist who has performed.

I think each season, I have heard a Ray LaMontagne song, and this season was no different when Patrick Thomson chose the song “Trouble”.  I really liked his performance this time around.  The last couple of times, I just felt that he was giving the constant Joe Cocker tone, therefore it was good to hear his voice do something a little bit different, tone wise.  He gave a good performance but I would have loved to see him step out a bit more and pick something that wasn’t too much in his comfort zone.

The last contestant, Dani Moz, just blew me away.  I loved her slower version of “Edge of Glory’ by Lady Gaga.  She made the wise decision to have the accompaniment of the piano as she sang.  I think she was one of the best to perform that night and made me second guess my thoughts on some of the others on Shakira’s team.  Her raw emotion was so beautiful and I could tell that the song had a personal story for her.

The outcome of Shakira’s Top 3 went as followed:

  • Dani Moz
  • Tess Boyer
  • Kristin Merlin

I truly thought Shakira would have kept Patrick, so I was very surprised that Kristin stayed, rather than he.

Team Adam was on fire on Monday night. He had some tough decisions to make when it came to the final battle round, so, you can only imagine the difficult decisions he’d have to make after his five team members stepped off the stage.

I call Delvin Choice the comeback kid.  I for one am glad that he returned and is in the competition.  He selected the song “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green.  He’s become a master of making his voice do things that are just so out of the park.  He doesn’t necessarily do runs but he does the low register that is just so hypnotic.  If he continues to challenge himself with the song selections, he could find himself into the finals.

I don’t know what it is about Jake Barker that makes me pay full attention, but he had my attention when he made the decision to sing his own coach’s song, “She Will Be Loved”. I liked that he took a risk and there were some very good falsettos he hit with some of the lyrics.  It wasn’t the best performance for him because there were some pitch problems, but he did step up to the challenge of doing something different.

Kat Perkins has been a favorite of mine from her blind audition, and she still is my favorite.  She is on the same level of Delvin when it comes to stepping out of the box and doing something that challenges their vocal capability.  She chose the song “Open Arms” by Journey.  She was doing something right when Adam told her he had no suggestions in changes for her when she rehearsed it.  Could we possibly have a Kat v Delvin down the line in the competition?  One can only hope because she phenomenal.

Usher said he feared that Morgan Wallen was ‘one dimensional’, but when he took the stage to sing the song “Stay” by Florida Georgia Line, he proved him wrong.  It was interesting that he chose a country song.  It took him in a different path.  If Morgan were to be chosen to stay in the live shows, he would have to also step up and take on some challenges to advance his voice.  Overall a pretty good performance.

Adam’s final performance was Christina Grimmie, who sang the song, “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz. I loved that she dedicated the song to her mother, who fought breast cancer.  She has such a beautiful voice and I loved when she went for some of her notes in the higher register.  Adam has some strong contenders on his team, so it’s going to be a tough call as to who he’s going to take to the live shows.  Hopefully Christina is one that sticks around.

The Top 3 for Team Adam went like this:

  • Kat Perkins
  • Delvin Choice
  • Christina Grimmie

Adam may have had a hard decision to make on who to keep, but he clearly knows who could possibly get him a third win, therefore I fully loved his choices.

Usher closed out the final night of the play-offs with his five remaining contestants. On Tuesday night’s show, T.J. Wilkens kicked the night off with Chaka Khan and Rufus’s song “Tell Me Something Good”.  I loved his performance but I don’t want him to be a carbon copy of his coach. He has his own stage presence and he kept the audience focused on his as he performed.  It was a great song to do and he really stepped it up.

The second performance was that of Melissa Jimenez who tackled the Beyonce hit, “Halo”. I am always on the fence with people taking songs from powerhouse singers; and Beyonce’s shoes are hard to fill. She put in a good effort but with the choppiness in her vocals due to trying to take in a breath. Melissa went for the risk, but she might have taken a risk on a different song.

Stevie Jo is always stepping out to challenge himself and he did just that when he sang “The Thrills is Gone” by B.B. King.  I loved that he took on this song to give it some freshness.  Stevie Jo mastered the technique of holding those extended notes.  Although he did have a few quirks in his voce, he did a great job on the song.  My fingers were crossed for him to be chosen for the upcoming live shows.

“Wild Horses” by The Rolling Stone is one of my favorite songs, so I really loved Bria Kelly singing it.  I consider her the Janis Joplin of this time; her rasp is mind-blowing.  She just continues to grow vocally and her choosing a song that is suited for her voice was good.  She took the audience on a trip where she displayed her vulnerability and also switched up into a soulful flow throughout the song.

I really wish that Josh Kaufman were still on Adam’s team.  I don’t know why but I just think he’s more suited for his team. He sang “It Will Rain by Bruno Mars.  He too is the master of the rasp in his voice and he just held me in from the start of the song all the way to the very end.  He has this ability to make whatever song he does sing sound so soulful.  I do hope that during the live shows, Usher will challenge him to do something out of his norm.  I think he has the voice for it, if given the perfect challenging song.

The night closed with Usher’s Top 3 to which I was very surprised by.

  • T.J. Wilkens
  • Bria Kelly
  • Josh Kaufman

I knew what Bria and Josh would be kept, but I honesty though that Stevie Jo would have been staying in the competition a little longer, especially with challenging himself on a blues song.

Next Monday and Tuesday are the live shows and every vote will count. The teams are all in place and this time there are no more steals.  Make sure to have your phone nearby. Until next week!

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