The Voice: Season 12, The Live Playoffs, Night 2

The second night of the live playoffs aired last night, featuring the artists from Gwen Stefani’s and Adam Levine’s teams. Three artists from each team will join the six artists who survived Monday night’s live playoffs from Blake Shelton’s and Alicia Keys’ teams.

Gwen Stefani’s artists started the show and the first one to perform was her comeback artist, Johnny Gates. Gates sang “Hands To Myself” by Selena Gomez. The song was given a more rock feel than the original, better to suit Gates’ style. I thought it was good, but certainly was not wowed by the performance.

Troy Ramey was the next artist to perform, and his song was “A Case Of You” by Joni Mitchell. No one will ever make you forget Joni Mitchell’s version; Morgan James covered this recently and did a great job with it. Ramey’s version suited him well, but he had to grow into it. It got better as it went along. I thought it was pretty good, but was unsure if it was good enough to keep him around.

Next up for Team Gwen was Quizz Swanigan, the youngest performer left in the competition. Quizz’s song choice was “My Girl” by the Temptations. He showed that he was more comfortable moving around on the stage than he was singing the song. I think, much like a few performers last night, his song choice was a bit too adult for him. His vocals weren’t quite ready for prime time on this performance.

Brennley Brown was next up, and she performed “Fly” by Maddie & Tae. Her performance had a few off notes, but it was well done overall. The nerves may have gotten her, but it was as good a performance as was seen at that point.

JChosen stepped up next for Team Gwen, singing “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor, but written by Prince. He struggled in rehearsals with the song, but by live performance time, he had improved quite a bit. It still was his weakest performance to me, even as I liked it.

Hunter Plake was the last artist to perform for Team Gwen, and he sang “Elastic Heart” by Sia. I was not thrilled by his performance. Much like JChosen before him, I’ve heard better from him in earlier rounds. The friends I watched with hoped that he had done enough to stick around. Given that Team Gwen was a little all over the place, that may well have been the case.

The final group of artists to perform for the live playoffs came from Team Adam. His first artist was also his comeback artist, Johnny Hayes. Hayes sang “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” by The Temptations. If I graded his performance, he would get an A for energy, but only a C for vocals. It was a mostly ad-libbed vocal performance. Since the show is called The Voice for a reason, I think Hayes’ return should be short-lived.

Hanna Eyre was next, and was given “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato. Hanna’s strength is her powerful voice; however the song she was given had plenty of quieter moments that she could not deliver as well. The power sections she handled with ease. Towards the end though, the notes started to miss the mark more frequently. It wasn’t a wretched performance, but it wasn’t great by any means.

The next two singers to perform for Team Adam were hamstrung by their coach’s song choices. Josh West was given “More Than A Feeling” by Boston, which has got to be one of the hardest rock songs to sing. No one is topping Brad Delp’s vocal on that track. Josh gave it a good effort, but he was not close. Another artist who was better in the early rounds, but in his defense, the song choice did him no favors.

Mark Isaiah followed West, and Levine’s choice for the heartthrob was “All Time Low” by Jon Baillon. Once again, another artist who sounded better before the live playoffs. The song seemed a bit difficult for the young man to sing, and he sounded off in places. Levine might have sensed that it wasn’t Isaiah’s best performance, because he begged the viewing audience for votes when it was over.

Lilli Passero was the next artist on stage, and she was given Carole King’s “It’s Too Late.” After a bad run of choices, finally artist and song were a good match. Other than the last chorus, this was one of the better performances on the evening. At that point, she was the best of the performers on Team Adam. She should make it through to next week with no problems.

Jesse Larson closed out the performance portion of the show with a version of Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke.” I was afraid that his guitar would dominate the performance, but save for a bit of playing at the end, it did not. However, I thought he tried way too hard singing the song, especially on the choruses. He also flubbed a lyric, though that was a minor offense. Given that Wonder songs are often difficult covers, he did alright.

Finally, it was time for results. First up: Team Gwen. America’s votes saved Brennley Brown and Hunter Plake. Not really surprised with either choice, though Plake has to grow on me a bit more. Coach Stefani’s choice seemed to take forever to come out of her mouth, but she picked Troy Ramey to stay in the competition. I suspect it was between Ramey and JChosen for the final spot.

With Gwen’s hemming and hawing taking up much of what was left of the live airtime, the results for Team Adam were a bit rushed. America used its votes to save Jesse Larson and Lilli Passero. Adam had just enough time to give his support to Mark Isaiah, which suited him, since he asked for votes to keep the young man on the show.

The show is now down to its final twelve artists; three on each team. Next week, the remaining singers will have Shania Twain as a guest advisor. Still have no idea who will win. Perhaps next week will bring a bit more clarity to this puzzle.

(photo from Creative Commons via Eva Rinaldi—available for reuse).

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