The Voice 4/6 Recap: Live Playoffs, Night 1

No catchy titles today. The live playoffs are here and there’s no time to waste. Ten singers perform but only six will remain after Wednesday night’s results show. Here is where the show becomes a popularity contest, which never really sits well with me, but then how else do you crown a champion? The artists from Team Blake and Team Pharrell perform on this show, while Team Adam and Team Christina will take the stage on Tuesday night’s show.

Kicking the show off is Sarah Potenza singing “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Before the performances, Carson Daly promised stripped-down performances of the songs so that everyone could concentrate on the vocals. Hearing this version of the song, he was true to his word. Not only is the song stripped down a bit, but so is Sarah’s performance. Very restrained on the slower part of the song, but she ramps it up as the song picks up in tempo, before the tempo slows back down and Sarah’s voice gears down. Compared to her other performances, there was less screaming-which isn’t to say there wasn’t any screaming-but it was pretty good nevertheless.

Following Sarah is Caitlin Caporale, who gives Beyoncé’s “Best Thing I Never Had” a try. I think Caitlin is one of those singers to watch in the competition, but I worry when artists try to perform songs of Mrs. Carter, because those songs are so closely associated with her. I have to say, “stripped down” went out the window on this performance. The band was so loud, I could barely pick up the background singers. As for Caitlin’s performance, it was pretty good overall, though I thought she hit a bit of a rough patch on the second chorus.

Hannah Kirby steps up next, and Blake gives her “I Feel The Earth Move” by Carole King. I haven’t been Kirby’s biggest fan, but I have to say, this was her best performance for me. Her vocals were really, really good. And for all the talk of her “dance moves,” there really weren’t a whole lot of them tonight. I do agree that what the coaches said afterward-that she really feels the music in her body when she sings- is absolutely true. I liked it.

Lowell Oakley was up next to sing “Jealous” by Nick Jonas. Given the fact that his last performance saw him take a few chances that didn’t always pan out, I wasn’t sure what to expect by him taking this on. However, he sang it mostly straight. There were no way-out-there moments, but there weren’t too many memorable ones either. Besides the fact that just last season Chris Jamison announced himself by singing this song (and had a better performance), this one paled in comparison. It was okay, but not great.

Next up is my personal un-favorite, Mia Z. Mia takes on “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. Thankfully, Pharrell tells Mia to keep it simple by not doing too much with the song; advice she pretty much listens to. However, there are still the pronunciation issues, though better this time than in any of her other performances. Mia likes to hit the high notes in her performances; but this one had none of the dog whistle notes we’ve come to associate with her. I’d say it was her best performance so far, but I’m still not really a fan.

Koryn Hawthorne is up next singing “How Great Thou Art.” Oh my there were nerves. And tons of vibrato. It looked and sounded like it was going to all fall apart at any moment. And yet, she held it together. Hers is a different kind of voice; there’s plenty of power there, but I don’t look at her as a screamer. I’m also not sure she can win the competition though.

Corey Kent White comes to the stage to perform “To Make You Feel My Love” as done by Garth Brooks. I didn’t realize until Blake mentioned it, but Corey is apparently the only country singer he has on his team. He has a good one then, because the kid can sing. He gives a very controlled, tender performance of the song, but it was missing something. Even as he didn’t really need to do to much with the song, I still felt something lacking, particularly towards the end.

Following White was Brooke Adee, who sings “Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding. Say this much for Blake’s choice of song-it certainly gives Brooke an opportunity to show off her range. Her performance, however was a little shaky, particularly on the lower parts of the song. She does fine in her upper register, but overall, I hear an okay performance, not a great one. She may not last beyond this round.

Team Blake’s third artist in a row to perform was Meghan Linsey, who performed “Love Runs Out” by One Republic. Blake addresses the “controversy” about Meghan’s participation being unfair because she has previously had success. Of course, he backs his artist. Whether you are on the side that says she should or shouldn’t be there, one thing should be clear-this woman can sing. I still say there may be a lot of pressure on her just because of her previous success; but what might happen now is there may be a backlash in the popular voting for the very same reason. Either way, she was good tonight. Wasn’t her best, but still good enough by miles to continue.

Last up was Sawyer Fredericks, singing Ray LaMontagne’s “Trouble.” This is one of those go-to songs in these competitions, so hearing Sawyer do it wasn’t a surprise. During rehearsals, he gives some direction as to how he wants the song to go, and it works to his advantage. He does well with it, but for the middle section where he seemingly is just waiting for it to pass by, unless that is in the song itself. Then he picks back up again and finishes the song out. I didn’t think it was his best performance, but I don’t see him going home this week.

Not sure how America will vote for these two teams, but for me Brooke and Lowell were the weakest of the night. If I were Koryn, I might be a bit nervous also. All will be revealed on Wednesday night’s show.

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