Last night was the first night of the live playoffs. There were twelve performances on the show; the full teams from Blake Shelton and Alicia Keys; along with two comeback artists, one chosen by each coach. Tonight’s show will conclude the live playoffs with the full teams of Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani, and two more comeback artists chosen by those coaches. For those who don’t regularly watch, a comeback artist is one who had been eliminated in the earlier rounds, but brought back for one last shot to continue on the show. In addition, real-time voting took place throughout the broadcast, so the voting results would be given by the end of the show. Three members from each team, two picked by votes, and one chosen by the coach, would move on to next week’s shows.
Blake Shelton’s team lead off the show, and the first artist to perform was Casi Joy. The country artist sang “Parachute” by Chris Stapleton. To this point, Casi had done well in my opinion, but something was just a bit off with this performance. I think that the tempo hurt her, so much so that by the end of the song, her notes started to waver, and she sounded as if she ran out of gas.
Blake’s comeback artist was Felicia Temple. I thought she was eliminated too soon, so I was happy to see her back. Her song for tonight was “Defying Gravity” from the musical Wicked. It was definitely her type of song, and seemed to be in her wheelhouse. But like Casi Joy, I sensed something off about this performance. I think she should have been given a better song; I think her performance from when she was eliminated was better than this one.
Next up for team Blake was fourteen year old Aaliyah Rose, who was given the Pretenders’ “Brass In Pocket” to sing. I thought that the song was a bit too old for her, and it proved to be so. While the youngster has a good voice, this performance was not her best. I think it all came down to song choice.
Next up was TSoul who sang “Knock On Wood.” TSoul is that artist who, when he sings a song, it doesn’t always sound like you remember it. Last week’s take on “These Arms Of Mine” by Otis Redding left me feeling as though he might be eliminated, but he made it through. This week’s song was better in places, but by the time the tempo picked up, it was almost unrecognizable. He’s not without talent, but I haltingly liked tonight’s performance.
Fifteen year old Aliyah Moulden was next, and she sang “Mercy” by Duffy. To me, it was another case of a song being too old for the person singing it. However, Moulden did pretty well, considering. The power of her voice is amazing for her age, so she may have just overpowered the song. I think she’ll need to learn a little nuance if she wants to go far.
The final artist to perform for Team Blake was Lauren Duski, who sung “Someone Else’s Star” by Bryan White. This was a pleasant performance; I was not wowed. Given everyone else that we saw at this point, it was one of the better performances of the night. Which once again proves my thought so far this season: I’ve heard a lot of good, but not a whole lot of great. That makes it hard to find a true frontrunner.
Team Alicia took the stage, and the first artist to perform was Chris Blue. He was given “Love On The Brain” by Rihanna. I’ve been waiting for someone with some serious pipes to take this song and wear it out. Blue was that man…for most of the performance. There were some vocal tics that may have overdone it a bit, but his range was amazing. There isn’t anything he can’t do vocally. “Love On The Brain” was bludgeoned—not just killed—by Blue.
Anatalia Villaranda was up next, and she performed “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King. Given the power that Anatalia had shown in the past, I expected her to overpower this song, but she saved her power for the end. The verses she handled well, but I wonder if she can continue to bring that kind of nuance to her future performances.
The comeback artist for Team Alicia was Jack Cassidy. He was brought back to sing “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” by Elton John. He was all over the place on this one; good in places, but off the rails in others. I’m not sure what Alicia saw in him, but this performance only proved to me that he was consistently inconsistent in his vocals; often within the same song. That inconsistency showed in this performance.
Vanessa Ferguson was the next artist to perform and she sang “Lean On” by Major Lazer featuring Mø & DJ Snake. This is the type of song that doesn’t really give a performer a real vocal showcase; but it was a recent hit, so maybe it was performed for ratings. Who knows? I didn’t like the song choice, but Vanessa did well enough with it. If she doesn’t make it through, the song will be her undoing.
Ashley Levin was the next artist to take the stage, and she performed the Ann Peebles classic, “I Can’t Stand The Rain.” In the rehearsal footage, Levin stated that this was her song, so she did sound comfortable with it during the performance. I thought she was pretty good…but again, not great. With so many artists hanging in the good zone, her good may or may not be good enough.
Closing out the performances for Team Alicia was Stephanie Rice, who sang “Every Breath You Take” by The Police. I have said before that Stephanie has a lot of fans, and they would not be disappointed with this performance. She arranged the song a bit differently than the hit, and it worked—mostly. I was a bit put off by the emphasis on “how my poor heart aches/with every step you take,” but then I realized that Sting emphasizes the very same lines in the hit record.
With real-time voting, rather than scheduling a results show, the results were given at the end of the program. The first to get results were the artist from Blake Shelton’s team. America’s votes saved Lauren Duski and Aliyah Moulden. Coach Shelton saved TSoul. Color me surprised that Casi Joy neither got the votes, nor was saved. Any chance Felicia Temple had of getting saved were doomed by her choice of song.
Last but not least, the results were given for Alicia Keys’ team. Saved by America’s votes were Chris Blue and Vanessa Ferguson. Alicia’s chose for the final save was Stephanie Rice. Honestly, I don’t have any real argument with these choices. Of the three who were left out, Ashley Levin might have had an argument to stay.
(photo from Creative Commons via Eva Rinaldi—available for reuse.)