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The Voice: Season 12, Top 11, 5/1/17

May 2nd, 2017 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Shania Twain was not part of the Voice judging panel for the top 11 singers on Monday night. Whether she’ll be back or there’ll be another celeb guest judge this season, we’ll have to wait and see. What we did see was eight excellent performances, two good ones, and one outright fail:

1.  Stephanie Rice (Team Alicia):  The one outright fail was the first performance of the evening. (Such performances used to be bombs but now being a bomb is a good thing.) If Rice can’t carry the tune of the classic Who rocker “Behind Blue Eyes,” then she shouldn’t have tried. Funny how Alicia compares her contestant to Fiona Apple and Alanis Morissette but she hasn’t assigned her any of their songs. Rice (ironically) sounds good on the song’s more raucous parts, but she can’t handle the more subtle emotional moments. Alicia says people were cheering for her, but I didn’t hear it.

2.  Aliyah Moulden (Team Blake):  Young black teenage Moulden sings blues-rock better than Rice, and she brings out the blues-rock side of Reba McEntire’s  “Take it Back.” Her one drawback is that she is so young and inexperienced.

3.  TSoul (Team Blake):  YouTube star TSoul isn’t just a singer, he’s a pianist, showman, and entertainer. He puts the soul in Sam Smith’s contemporary hit, “Lay Me Down.” Blake says his contestant gets so into it, he’s ” a beast.” Alicia says she loves his singing, his piano, and his ability to lay on the floor (“do crunches,” she says) and sing.

4.  Lilly Passero (Team Adam):  Last week Passero sang “Man, I Feel Like a Woman” very well–but if people want to download a Shania Twain song, they’ll probably download the original. So she didn’t rate high on the iTunes chart. This week she sings “Town Without Pity,” which leads Adam to compare her to Amy Winehouse. He says it’s dramatic, sexy, and jazzy. Passero turns in a performance worthy of the finals, or more, and people are likely to want to download this. Host Carson Daly says it was like a James Bond opening sequence. Adam says Passero has the ability to transport her audience back to a different era.

5.  Hunter Plake (Team Gwen):  Plake’s obviously a singer that people want to download, but he’s far from the best singer of the season. His voice is aspirate, soft, inconsistent, and he has a tendency to mumble. That said, he can hit spine-tingling notes, and he can sing with heart. This week he sings “All I Want,” a contemporary hit for the Irish rockers Kodaline, but it may be too subtle and mellow for him. The song doesn’t really have a hook, either. However, Adam comments he has his own style–his voice is subtle but distinct.

6.  Vanessa Ferguson (Team Alicia):  Channeling shades of Rhianna, Shirley Bassey, Alicia Keys, and even a little Bowie or Annie Lennox, Ferguson takes “Diamonds (in the Sky)” into Bond movie territory. Adam likes her *&^%^! style, “you know yourself.” Blake says having her on an opposing team is intimidating.

7.  Lauren Duski (Team Blake):  If you’re a country singer on Blake’s team, you’re a favorite to make the finale of The Voice. Duski is the one Nashville hopeful that Blake has in his final three this season. All she has to do is sing “Somewhere in my Broken Heart” beautifully–she does–and her place in next week’s round is assured. Blake tells her, “Your voice sounds classic but it doesn’t sound like anybody else.”

8.  Mark Isaiah (Team Adam):  Isaiah’s natural demographic is teens, and what he needs is a cute frothy romantic ballad. However, Adam’s letting him pick what songs he wants to do, and he  prefers hiphop such as Lil Wayne’s “How to Love.” Adam notes it’s a “really challenging song” with tricky words and melody. (It’s a word puzzle of a song, and Gwen has a point when she comments about how she’s glad Isaiah remembered all the words.) He’s not being coached to woo the teens, though, to sing to the girls, and so he’s not building much of an audience. If Rice’s blowout saves him from elimination this week, he’d better have Adam select his song next week.

9.  Jesse Larson (Team Adam):  Several of this season’s contestants have rock influences but Larson’s the only straight-up blues-rocker left. He shows off his powerful lower register on the contemporary alt-rock hit, “Human (Don’t Put the Blame on me).” Alicia says, “You took it to a new place!” Adam says it’s bluesy, beautiful, sad, and compares Larson to last season’s Voice champ Sundance Head. It’s a stretch, because Head was country and Larson, classic rock but–like Head, “You just sing your face off,” Adam says, and adds, “The best singer in the competition.”

10.  Brennley Brown (Team Gwen):  Country singers are always favorites to win The Voice even when they’re not on Team Blake. Young blonde teenage Brown was the top-ranked Voice artist on iTunes last week, and she did enough this week to get to the next round. With Gwen’s coaching, Brown turns Joni Mitchell’s Christmas song, “The River” into traditional-sounding country, complete with fiddles and slide guitars. People will want to download this, too.

11.  Chris Blue (Team Alicia):  Blue sings a version of the R&B classic, “When a Man Loves a Woman” that’s astonishing. It may be better than the real thing–the original. Alicia coached him to do some soul-searching and make a statement with it, and that’s what he does. Alicia says, “I felt like I was watching the greats,” like Nat King Cole.

My votes went to Jesse Larson and Lilli Passero. My prediction is that unless something flaky happens with the voting, either Isaiah or Rice is going to be eliminated.

Tags: The Voice