The Voice 5/18 Recap: Down To The Wire

Lots to get to with last night’s show: each artist sang three times. One song that would function as their first single, one duet with their coach, and one song that either they chose or the coach chose (don’t remember which). At any rate, let’s get to the recap.

Koryn Hawthorne: “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” (James Brown) (random song choice), “We Can Work It Out” (The Beatles) (duet with Pharrell Williams), “Bright Fire” (original single)

For someone whom I thought had almost no chance of winning, Koryn had a really good night. I still don’t think it’s enough, but all of her performances were really good. The James Brown cover led off the show, and while I wasn’t sure if it would work for her, she sang it well. As far as singing the song goes, her voice compared favorably to the Godfather of Soul (which isn’t to say her version was better). The duet between her and her coach was really good-so good it was probably her best performance of the night. Using the Stevie Wonder version’s arrangement, it was well done, and certainly had me head-nodding on my sofa. Pharrell’s performance was better in this duet than in the one he performs with Sawyer (see further down). And her single was also sung very well. What I didn’t hear tonight was a lot of the straining in Koryn’s voice that almost sounds painful. Much like last year, each original single was given a video, and the video for “Bright Fire” is here:

Joshua Davis: “The Workingman’s Hymn” (original single), “Hallelujah” (Leonard Cohen) (random song choice), “Diamonds On The Soul Of Her Shoes” (Paul Simon) (duet with Adam Levine)

Ah Joshua. It’s not that you weren’t good; you were. It’s just that all season long, as compared to the top two, and on this show compared to Koryn, you were a fourth choice. The songs just didn’t quite work out. His single, which a friend of mine on Facebook described as “Bruce Springsteen meets Bruce Hornsby,” was actually performed pretty well, but all I remembered of it was how he kept hammering the chorus. Barely remembered any of the verses. His “Hallelujah” was very subtle; so much so it barely registered. His duet with Adam on the Paul Simon cover was the best thing he did on the night-it seemed to work for him in a way the other songs didn’t. But if your duet with your coach is the best thing in the live finale, that might be a problem. Anyway, here’s the video for Joshua’s single, “The Workingman’s Hymn”:

Meghan Linsey: “Change My Mind” (original single), “Freeway Of Love (Aretha Franklin) (duet with Blake Shelton), “When A Man Loves A Woman” (Percy Sledge) (random song choice)

One more time: Meghan Linsey is one of the front-runners, and nothing happened in this show to change my opinion. She has been nothing but consistent, even as last week showed a few slight cracks in her voice. They were nowhere to be found in this show. The single was well sung, and her cover of Sledge’s classic was spot on. If I have any criticism at all, it’s the Aretha Franklin duet with Blake. “Freeway Of Love” has never been, nor will ever be, one of my favorite Aretha Franklin songs, but it doesn’t require much in the way of vocal acrobatics or performance. Just about any song by the Queen of Soul from her prime hitmaking period (roughly the late sixties to the mid seventies) would have been far better, but more challenging. And if you are calling yourself a “soul singer,” you’re going to run into some Aretha Franklin tunes at some point. The duet, while nice enough, just wasn’t working for me, it was her weakest moment of the night. That said, I don’t think the voters will hold it against her. The video for “Change My Mind” is here:

Sawyer Fredericks: “Summer Breeze” (Seals And Crofts) (duet with Pharrell Williams), “Please” (original single), “Old Man” (Neil Young) (random song choice)

He could win The Voice. He can win The Voice. But will he win? That’s the question that will be answered on tonight’s show. As for last night, he did what he always does. He came out, sang three songs, sounded great, all while wearing a hat. Thanks to Pharrell, who either was struggling badly, or making it so his artist would look better than he did, Sawyer may have sounded better than he actually was on “Summer Breeze.” Either way, Pharrell did not perform on this duet as well as he did on Koryn’s. The original single, written by Ray LaMontagne, was right in Sawyer’s wheelhouse, and he knocked it out of the park. And to these ears, the more he sung, the more the girls screamed. And we all know how the screaming girls will vote, right? His Neil Young cover was very well done. He has been nothing if not consistent, much like Meghan. And that is why he has a very good shot of being crowned the champ of Season 8. His video for “Please” is here:

I have a close race between Meghan Linsey and Sawyer Fredericks. Koryn’s great night sounds like a case of “too little, too late,” and Joshua just hasn’t been consistent enough over the course of the season for him to win. But, when America votes, anything can happen. Last season, I thought it was Matt McAndrew’s to lose-and Craig Wayne Boyd took the prize. If you have a pick to win the show, leave it in the comments.

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