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The Voice: Season 11, Top 11, 11/21/16

November 22nd, 2016 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Monday’s Voice performances resembled a cavalcade of Americana:  there wasn’t an intentional theme, but several top-eleven contestants sang the songs of American legends Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, Johnny Cash, Bob Seeger, Bruce Springsteen–and those were the performances that defined the evening. Plus we got asides to Tina Turner, Garth Brooks and Billy Ray Cyrus, so let’s see who may have impressed voters the most:

1.  Ali Caldwell, Team Miley:  Adam advised Miley to assign Ali a country song, so Miley decides to have her R&B singer give “9 to 5” some soul. “She has a huge personality and a lot to say,” says Miley. Although the song is Dolly Parton’s, Ali performs it with Tina Turner’s shimmy. Unfortunately she mixes up the words, and the song’s too rough for her sweet pretty voice.

2.  Sundance Head, Team Blake:  At this season’s auditions Alicia asked Head, “Where’d you learn to sing like that?” His answer:  “From You.” So that makes Alicia’s “No One” a suitable choice for him. He treats it like country soul, and says it’s the most challenging song he’s ever had. After his performance Alicia says, “The one person I wish was on my team! I listened to my song in a whole new way.” Blake says, “Powerful, Dude! … Didn’t crack under pressure … a breakout moment.”

3.  Aaron Gibson, Team Miley:  Since Gibson hit bottom two last week, he’s taking a new direction. This week he’s going for a Southern Gothic flavor with “Hurt,” Johnny Cash’s last big hit, that was originally a hit for Nine Inch Nails. Miley thinks his voice needs to show more highs and lows. For a singer who needs special handling, this song is a good match. “Your voice is just crazy,” Adam comments on the performance, “perfect song.” Miley said Adam advised her on this, too, about wanting “to care.” So Adam’s coaching the coach.

4.  Courtney Harrell, Team Blake:  After singing Whitney Houston’s “What I Did for Love” in high school twenty years ago, Harrell goes back to it this evening. Blake advises, “Get as Whitney as you can.” Her version is sweeter and prettier than Houston’s, and Carson Daly announces she electrified the room. Alicia comments, “So pure … such a pure soul.” Blake thinks it’s the best performance she’s ever given.

5.  Josh Gallagher, Team Adam:  “Drunk on Your Love” isn’t a Garth Brooks song, but Adam advises his hardcore country singer to “embrace your inner Garth.” Adam and Josh agree it’s time to have fun and work the crowd. This is a much better performance–in terms of both vocals and stagecraft–than last week. Miley compares the result to her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, who in his heyday brought forth comparisons to Elvis. Adam offers that there’s no one better in this competition when it comes to connecting with an audience.

6.  Billy Gilman, Team Adam:  This former boy soprano was once a top country star but now he’s attempting to transition to pop–to remake himself in a George Michael or Adam Lambert mode. Adam compares Gilman to the champion of two seasons ago, the weak-voiced yet emotive Jordan Smith, even while noting they don’t sound alike. For this performance Gilman revives his audition song, Adele’s “All I Ask.” Adam advises it’s time to show another “shade of you … strip it down … take your time, [get] emotionally invested.” Gilman milks every note, and the audience applauds wildly. It prompts Blake to ask, “Do you ever hit a bad note?  Is it possible for you to hit a bad note?” Adam says, “You can hit all the perfect notes but you’ve got to feel it … You made me feel it.”

7.  Christian Cuevas, Team Alicia:  To celebrate his engagement, Christian performs a fun upbeat song, “Rosanna,” leading Carson Daly to comment, “Party like it’s 1982.” It’s an improvement over last week’s misstep, but it’s not the Latin jazz he’s best at. Miley, however, likes the energy he brought to this song after so many intimate moments. Alicia praises his singing, “this big … like crystal … pure.” I say if he’s still on the show next week, he needs to do something like “Beautiful Maria of my Soul.”

8.  Austin Allsup, Team Blake:  Allsup’s baritone notes bring faint echoes of Elvis. Like Bob Seger, he occupies a vocal territory somewhere between high baritone and low tenor. Those characteristics are on full display as he tackles Seger’s haunting “Turn the Page.” Blake says Allsup could be on mainstream radio but still with that “country outlaw voice.” Adam says, “By far the best performance you’ve ever had on this show.” Blake raves at length, “[I was] on the edge of my seat! … He’s got to stay … nobody doing what you do … it’s genre-less.”

9.  Darby Anne Walker [it’s Anne with an e], Team Miley:  Just about anything would be better than last week–but this week’s performance of “You Don’t Own Me” remains amateurish. Walker shows her lack of range, too. It’s like she’s got two notes, falsetto and not. Alicia likes her falsetto though, and Miley babbles at length but says very little.

10.  Brendan Fletcher, Team Adam:  “The River” isn’t the most obvious choice for a Springsteen cover but Fletcher performed it back when he and his brother were teenagers in a band. His performance is haunting–it’s almost like he’s channeling Springsteen. Blake praises his “great storytelling voice.” Adam notes a couple of things, that this singer is “slightly introverted” but provides an “important and almost forgotten voice” in today’s music scene.

11. We McDonald, Team Alicia:  Earlier Adam compared Billy Gilman to Jordan Smith, but We compares better–a voice who’s just a little bit different so gets conveniently held up as an emblem. McDonald’s youth, squeaky speaking voice and flinty alto combine into a special package. Tonight she sings the current Rhianna hit, “Love on the Brain.” It’s still not the best song for her range, but now she at least sounds like the breakout her iTunes chart positions make her out to be.

Tonight’s results show has a pre-Thanksgiving theme. A peek at the iTunes charts shows Ali to be in serious trouble. Her Dolly-meets-Tina mash-up was a good idea that didn’t quite come off, given the caliber of this competition.

Disclosure:  I voted for all the guys. However, Austin Allsup is who I find myself most wanting to hear again.



Tags: The Voice