In the spirit of being honest, Voice fans, I have to admit: the Live Rounds have lost me in the past. I wish I could blame my geographic limitations – i.e. Canadians can’t vote here – but really I just lost interest. Blame a crowded Monday night TV landscape, I suppose!
Just to give you Voice Live Playoffs virgins a rundown, the judges must now throw their talent to the wolves (aka. ‘Muricans) where democracy at its best will unfold. We have two nights of team performances, followed by votes and iTunes downloads to be tallied and revealed on Wednesday night, when two members per team will advance. (Yes, you read that right. There are FIVE HOURS of The Voice week. Pray for me; I won’t last with all these Sprint Skybox detours. Even Christina Millian has been released from social media reporting purgatory!) Plus, the four red chair dictators also get to execute their executive right to save one “at-risk” artist to move on.
BUT, I am here for you now and I’m not as disinterested as my first paragraph would have you believe. It helped that the spritely chair-climber himself, Mr. Adam Levine, kicked off the night with a performance of “Animals” with the rest of his band, Maroon 5. Meanwhile, Carson Daly debuted some interesting and manly scruff (Riiight. It’s Movember). And rookie judges-turned-coaches, Gwen and Pharrell, had the night off to observe and acclimatize to LIVE TV (!!!!). On to the performers:
Taylor Brashears – “Long Time Gone” (The Dixie Chicks) – Personally, I love her, but I’d be shocked to see her next week after her low energy and uneven performance. Then again, maybe America will give her bonus points for going first?
Jessie Pitts – “Holding Out for a Hero” (Bonnie Tyler) – While Blake insisted this is “Jessie’s version of the song,” it sounds an awful lot like Ella Mae Bowen’s cover (which I love). This performance should lock up one of the Top 2 spots on Team Blake.
James David Carter – “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House” (Garth Brooks) – If you like twang, you’re probably voting for James already. No complaints about James David’s singing, guitar playing or country yodelling, but it wasn’t notable enough. If he moves through, it’ll be due to Blake saving him. (The highlight was Adam asking, “never the James alone?” Short answer: No.)
Reagan James – “Try” (Cobbie Callait) – The youngest of the bunch this year was not shy in dictating her song choice, when she wanted to play, when she wanted a bigger groove from the band. I’d legitimately buy Reagan’s album if it reflected this effortlessly gorgeous performance. Her birthday is Wednesday; fingers crossed that America gives her the gift of another week of nerve-wracking live performances.
Craig Wayne Boyd – “Some Kind of Wonderful” (Grand Funk Railroad) –This is the perfect example of how time off between taped and live shows can really benefit an artist.The Gwen Stefani-made over, new and improved Craig (Craig Wayne? James David’s proclamation about his two first names has thrown me!) brought the house down and locked up a spot in next week’s live playoffs. May Carson Daly bitch-slap me at The Grove if I’m wrong. (Please don’t let him do that. I really hate being wrong.) My picks to join Craig have got to be …. uh …. hrm … Jessie Pitts and Reagan James.
Chris Jamison – “Don’t” (Ed Sheeran) – My judgement is HUNDO P (“one hundred per cent” in layman terms) clouded by my current infatuation with this Sheeran hit. I cannot get enough of it. So trust me when I say it takes a LOT of talent, specifically breath control, to sing it. (I cannot confirm or deny the number of times I’ve attempted in my car on the way to work.) Vote this one through, America!
Matt McAndrew – “God Only Knows” (The Beach Boys) – Fun fact: This was the first time a Beach Boys tune was covered on The Voice (so Adam Levine declared) and now basically no one can ever sing one again because Matt’s performance was perfect. I may have swooned and bobbed/swayed along. I know Gwen got misty-eyed. All the judges kvetched. Dibs on having Matt McAndrew’s sing this at my (currently totally hypothetical and non-existent) wedding.
Taylor Phelan – “Cool Kids” (Echosmith) – Cue my aforementioned apathy and live playoff boredom. This whole song and dance was whatever…
Mia Pfirrman – “Young and Beautiful” (Lana Del Ray) – Team Adam’s only surviving female doesn’t have longevity here. It was underwhelming and unconvincing. See ya, Mia.
Damien – “I’m Not the Only One” (Sam Smith) – Still love his personality and the gospel background that made his take on Sam Smith unique and charming; but I will be angry if the general public declares his performance better than Chris Jamison’s. His performance wrapped Team Adam for the night. My picks moving through (by votes or by coach’s save): Matt (duhhhhh), Chris, and Damien.
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC and CTV Two.