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The Voice: Season 11, Voting Begins, 11/7/16

November 8th, 2016 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Because of the presidential election, The Voice departed from its customary formula this season. I had two members of each team picked out I intended to vote for–but nobody in the western half of the US got to vote. All twenty semi-finalists were packed into two hours (no time for judges’ comments after each performance), and voting was by Twitter and phone app. The voting window opened and closed for each team, and all results were announced before the broadcast was over. That meant the voting demographic consisted of the wired crowd east of the Mississippi. What did remain the same was that two contestants from each team were voted into the round of twelve, with each judge “saving” a third:

First, Team Alicia:

A-1.  Christian Cuevas croons “Yesterday” very well, setting a high standard for the evening’s performances. During the taped segment introducing her team, Alicia comments he represents “almost a lost art, a love song singer.”

A-2.  Kylie Rothfield sounds a little like Cher, belting the Stones’ “Satisfaction.” She shows she’s an alto who can rock!

A-3. We McDonald sings “Home” from the Broadway musical The Wiz, but she’s off. She’s got R&B style, but Rothfield’s alto was better than McDonald’s tonight. I’d think this performance would take McDonald out of the running.

A-4. Josh Halverson, one of this season’s two country singers named Josh, turns Sam Cooke’s “Cupid” into a country-flavored ballad. He’s more than a singing voice, he can act the words as he sings them.

A-5.  SaRayah, one of this season’s R&B powerhouses, also shows an ability to act her songs, not just sing them. She brings big notes (a bit of a Janis Joplin flavor) and a contemporary style to “I’d Rather Go Blind,” an Etta James song from the sixties.

Results for Alicia’s five will be announced in a little while but first let’s hear from Team Blake:

B-1.  Dana Harper turns Daryl Hall and John Oates’ “Maneater” into a smooth contemporary piece that starts slow and goes uptempo. She doesn’t give it much attitude or personality, though, so her stock’s down.

B-2.  Austin Allsup does bring rocker ‘tude (a trace of Elvis, maybe) to a Waylon Jennings song, “I Ain’t Living Long Like This.” Not only does he have a voice, he’s got the right look for a country hearthrob.

B-3.  Jason Warrior brings a James Brown flavor to a Drake song. He shows range with a lot of screams and high notes, but that may or may not be the best selection for this stage of the competition. There’s showmanship, and there’s some crazy vocal ability, but it may not be what gets votes.

B-4.  Sundance Head, whom Carson Daly introduces as a “country-soul” singer, gives a bluesy treatment to a Keith Urban song (“Blue Ain’t Your Color”) and he mumbles the lyrics. It makes for a very subdued–even lackluster–performance, so he’s not one of the evening’s best.

B-5.  Courtney Harrell is Blake’s third R&B singer this season. She performs a standard-issue R&B diva ballad in a standard-issue R&B diva way. She’s got big notes and a big finish but not anything overwhelming.

Results for Team Alicia are announced:  I’m thinking, SaRayah and Josh, or Christian and SaRayah, and the one left–or maybe Kylie–is going to be Alicia’s choice to advance. However, the top two turns out to be Christian Cuevas and We McDonald. (Voters may have been thinking of McDonald’s past performances.) That means Alicia has to cut two of her best people, and SaRayah is who she keeps.

Time for Team Miley:

C-1.  Sophia Urista does a terrible performance, starting with a terrible song choice. When Rod Stewart sang, “Do You Think I’m Sexy,” it was supposed to be cheap and tacky. The Voice is not supposed to be cheap and tacky. She’s using her rasp entirely wrong, too–making for a strip-club quality performance. Where’s Simon Crowell when you really need him?

C-2.  Darby Walker is a very idiosyncratic singer, and her strengths and weaknesses are equally evident on the folksy sixties-era hit, “Those Were the Days.” At times she perfectly matches the music, at times, not. She might have been better with any number of Broadway hits where her character voice would have been, well, in character.

C-3.  Aaron Gibson may turn in his best performance of the season, with his soft aspirate voice wending its way through the Counting Crows’ “Round Here.” (That’s the one about “between me and you/the angels get a better view.”) He’s got the right performance of the right song at the right time.

C-4.  Belle Jewel sings “My Little Runaway” as a quirky jazzy ballad. Again we see a singer who has personality as well as a voice.

C-5.  Ali Caldwell demonstrates old-school powerhouse R&B at its best. Her song is “Times Have Changed” and if that’s the Bob Dylan song, she sure gives it soul.

Results for Team Blake are announced:  The two country singers, Austin Allsup and Sundance Head, are voted through, even though Head had an off-night. Blake has to decide which of his three R&B singers to keep. He keeps Courtney Harrell.

Finally, it’s time for Team Adam:

D-1.  Brendan Fletcher gives “To Love Somebody” a contemporary coffeehouse treatment, heartfelt but with a few big screaming notes. He’s the type of contestant who often does well on these TV talent shows.

D-2.  Simone Gundy is the fifth R&B diva of the night. She shows off her big powerhouse voice on a dramatic ballad (“Diamonds in the Sky”), but we’ve seen much the same from SaRayah, Ali, Dana, and Courtney already. (We won’t say anything about We.)

D-3.  Josh Gallagher, the other country singer named Josh this season, aptly demonstrates how he could win. His voice on Zac Brown’s “Colder Weather” is a well-matched combination. During a break earlier tonight, when Carson asked Blake for his thoughts on Team Adam, Blake singled out Josh for how his voice and charisma works together.

D-4.  Riley Elmore, an old soul of 16, can do the old-school cocktail-jazz ballad style of singing perfectly. He shows it with “Luck Be a Lady.”

D-5.  Billy Gilman has name recognition and an established fan base, making him this season’s front runner. When Blake was asked to comment on Team Adam earlier tonight, he said, “I don’t think anyone can out-sing Billy.” Then Gilman takes the stage and nails “Crying,” the ol’ Roy Orbison country-rock hit.

Results for Team Miley are announced:  First Carson asks Alicia for comment, and she says she’d keep Ali and Darby. Then Carson announces that Ali Caldwell and Aaron Gibson are the two being voted through. Miley keeps Darby, although I’d have kept Belle instead.

Finally it’s time to close the show with the results for Team Adam:  First Carson points out there’s about four minutes left of airtime and asks Adam for comment. Apparently Adam thinks that means he has to fill all four minutes, because by the time he’s done praising his five contestants, the credits are about to roll. Carson announces Billy Gilman and Josh Gallagher are voted through. Adam saves Brendan Fletcher as the show cuts out.

Here’s who Voice viewers will be voting for next week:

Team Alicia:  SaRayah, Christian Cuevas, We McDonald

Team Blake:  Sundance Head, Austin Allsup, Courtney Harrell

Team Miley:  Aaron Gibson, Ali Caldwell, Darby Walker

Team Adam:  Billy Gilman, Josh Gallagher, Brendan Fletcher 

Tags: The Voice