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The Voice: Season 8, Top 6 Perform, 5/4/15

May 5th, 2015 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

We saw several of the remaining six singers make moves into questionable musical territory on The Voice last night, some with better results than others, as the top six of season 8 competed to see who would make final five.  Each did two songs, and with Mother’s Day coming up, five singers performed a song for their mothers.  The exception, Joshua Davis, performed one song for this wife, the mother of his children.

1-1.  India Carney performs an inspirational, gospel-tinged “Glory” (the Oscar-winning spiritual from the Selma film) and the judges love it.  It’s the first of several performances tonight that bring the church to The Voice. Carney appears like she’s left the talent show behind already–she’s more like a special guest returning to the place that launched her career.  Blake and Christina are especially enthusiastic about how some of the lyrics were originally part of a rap interlude–but India turned them into actual song lyrics.

1-2.  Joshua Davis sings U2’s “Desire,” which he says he chose because it has that “early rock ‘n’ roll vibe I love.” However, he doesn’t copy U2’s classic rock performance.  Instead of rocking, he provides more of a New Orleans jazz rendition, accompanied by a horn section.  However, “Good to see you up tempo,” Pharrell says afterward, “Great combination for you.”

1-3. Koryn Hawthorne gives REM’s “Everybody Hurts” an inpirational gospel-tinged R&B treatment, and dedicates it to her mother. Once again, her youth and inexperience are on display, branding her as the weakest of the remaining contestants. Blake, however, likes the way she’s “invested” in the song–how she has the ability to act out a song, not just sing it.

1-4.  Kimberly Nichole makes the first of two poor song choices.  Out of thousands of possibilities, she picks Tom Petty’s “Freefalling.” (It’s for her mother, but I’m not sure why, unless it’s her mother’s favorite song or something.) It’s gender-inappropriate, and that’s the least of its problems.  She appears to be going for something folksier, but she’d have been better off with one of Mellencamp’s or Springsteen’s musical critiques of America–or something by Linda Ronstadt or Dolly Parton or Joni Mitchell. The judges all love her vocal rendition, but I suspect it’s going to cost her votes. “It doesn’t matter what you sing,” says Adam, sounding like he’s trying to say something nice. “You do it your way.”

1-5.  Meghan Linsey goes back to her days of singing for tips in Nashville, and pulls out James Taylor’s “Steamroller Blues” from her repertoire.  She gives it a steamy, bluesy red-hot barroom delivery–it may be blues but she sounds more like a rocker tonight than Nichole does.  She gives what may be the performance of the night–and against this competition, she needs to.  She can’t just count on her built-in fan base to keep supporting her. The judges rave about the result, especially Christina, who exclaims, “That was crazy!  You just laid your heart and soul out there!”  Even though Linsey’s on Team Blake, Pharrell encourages, “everybody in Nashville to vote for this girl.”

1-6.  Sawyer Fredericks picks “Shine on” by Daisy May Eriewine, a musical artist who barely shows up in an online search. It’s simple, a folksong with acoustic guitar accompaniment, and that’s what Sawyer does best. Afterwards Adam says, “One of my favorite performances of the night, perfect but also soulful and engaging and emotional.” Blake concurs, “Very simple but so real and powerful.”

2-1. Kimberly’s second song:  We’ve seen a number of unwise song selections tonight, and Kimberly makes her second one, and her second gender-inappropriate one. If you’re going to do Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana,” don’t say it’s because you haven’t had a rock moment.  (You still won’t–and besides, what the H*ll do you call your “What’s Up?” and “Rising Sun”?)  Jackson’s song may have words like a machine gun, as Christina observes, but it’s essentially blues, not classic rock. I can think of 100 songs Nichole should have done instead, but the crowd does love her all-out performance. Pharrell raves, “You had your first official rock ‘n’ roll moment,” and Christina concurs, “You were truly a rock star,” but neither judge counts as an expert on the genre.

2-2.  Joshua’s second song:  Davis does the Beatles’ “In my Life” for his wife.  He reverts to the style he does best–a folksy coffeehouse treatment. The judges spend more time afterwards getting on the audience for out-of-time clapping than they do on critiquing Davis. (The audience clapping didn’t interfere with the broadcast, though.) Adam does say his one remaining contestant was “absolutely mesmerizing.”

2-3.   Koryn’s second song:  “Dream on” is the song Kimberly Nichole should have done, but the previously soulful and inspirational Hawthorne does it instead.  That puts her in the position of having more of a rock moment than either Kimberly or Meghan this evening. Pharrell enjoys how his 17-year-old pop princess often sounds like a well-seasoned singer but here she lays on the teen angst. For once her youth is fits the song exactly–despite its world-weary lyrics. It’s her best performance of the season, and likely her best hope to escape being below the cut line this week. Christina observes after the performance, “Out of your comfort zone, but interesting.”

2-4. India’s second song:  Carney may be a powerhouse vocalist but she got saved by two votes last week–not two percent, two votes. This week, her style’s veering uneasily between inspirational gospel and alternative edginess, so she may still be in trouble.  She gets all soulful and bluesy with a folksy Sam Smith lament, “Lay me down.” Adam, however, thinks the result is her best performance ever. “Different for you,” he says, further suggesting she’s “one of the front-runners again.” (This season is actually one that has several front-runners.) “Out of your comfort zone,” is how Christina appraises the effort, adding, “More grittiness.”

2-5. Sawyer’s second song:  Just about everybody’s turning inspirational tonight, so Fredericks joins the trend with “Take me to the River.” However, his model is the Commitments’ special brand of punky Irish white soul, not Al Green or Talking Heads.  He forsakes his guitar, works the crowd, and turns in a youthful, pop-rock version, for once fitting himself into a teen-idol mold.  The performance (complete with modern dancers) is more like a music video than a church service.  Blake says afterwards, “So amazing, all you have to do is stand there and sing.” Pharrell adds, “Did he not work the stage, ladies?” Sometimes to work the stage, you just have to stand and sing.

2-6.  Meghan’s second song:  Linsey caps the evening’s trend for church-service material by singing “Amazing Grace” for her mother.  She sings it well but it’s out of place in a pop-singing talent competition.  The judges all stand and applaud, however. Christina finds the result to be, “Touching, moving,” and Blake says, “It’s like the world stops to listen to that.”

Although I like the remaining female vocalists, only the two men–Joshua and Sawyer–moved me to pick up the phone and vote.  With Sawyer, could we be witnessing the arrival of the next Dylan or Springsteen?

We’re told that tonight’s cut will be to determine the final five, who will be advanced to the semi-finals next week.  After that it’s the finale, May 18 and 19.


Tags: Reality TV · The Voice