Fun fact: The Voice is the only TV show that Academy Award nominee and four-time Emmy winner, Alfre Woodard, watches in real time. How do we know this? Well, because she and Katherine Heigl – so desperate for TV redemption and yet so unable to sell us on her new show when asked by Carson – were strategically placed in the audience to shill their 10 p.m. premiere of State of Affairs. Yikes.
While the judges were embarrassingly effusive in their praise across the board, I was less impressed by Monday night’s offerings from the Top 12. (And don’t get me started on the weak #TextsFromBlakesMom tweets Carson shared from the Sprint Skybox. Double yikes.)
Sugar Jones – “Take Me to the River” (Al Green) – It may just be the song choice, but I was less annoyed by Sugar on Monday night than ever before. Overall, I’d give her a solid B-. She had a touch of the belly-growling vocals of an old-school Aretha Franklin but it won’t be enough to inspire America to vote her into the Top 10.
DaNica Shirey – “Creep” (Radiohead) – A surprising choice for DaNica in my books, but she nailed it vocally and let the emotions shine through while standing centre stage and belting it. Let’s vote her on through, okay USA?
Luke Wade – “Thinking Out Loud” (Ed Sheeran) – Truthfully, I listened to this song in my car on Monday morning no fewer than 5 times; so I have to preface this with a solid “oh hey, I’m MAJORLY biased.” He fumbled the opening few lines – in fact, I think I knew the words better than Luke – but he recovered and continued with such amazing confidence that I could basically picture Sheeran’s sexy music video. #stillLukeified
Ryan Sill – “Ordinary World” (Duran Duran) – This was rough. If life was fair, this performance would signal the definitive end to Ryan’s run this season. However, his thousand-yard, dreamboat stare (and boyband dimples) might have inspired enough tween voters to buoy him for another week.
Taylor John Williams – “If” (Bread) – To quote Blake Shelton from multiple seasons of this show, I don’t know this song. And while Taylor’s performance should be enough to guarantee him another week (at least), it was watching him rehearse and banter a little with coach Gwen that made him more personable. I felt he had more of a connection with the TV audience and was more open there than any time he has been on stage.
Anita Antoinette – “Redemption Song” (Bob Marley) – If there ever was going to be a reggae artist to win The Voice, it will be Anita. The song choice offered the Jamaican-born singer the chance to really bond with the audience. She really put her own authentic spin on it; and if that wasn’t enough to convince America, Anita closed out the night, which as you should know by now means the show’s editors are telling you “SHE IS THE ONE TO VOTE FOR.”
Jessie Pitts – “Don’t You Worry Child” (Swedish House Mafia) – Jessie went the extra mile, “playing” (or actually playing, but it sure didn’t seem like it) the piano for the first verse and chorus. She also went the extra mile in the beauty department getting a platinum blonde dye job and a typical jewel-toned mini dress. Seeing her wedged into the country-pop artist mould was disappointing. As was her singing: a little too breathy, occasionally oddly paced…a shell of the girl she was in pervious weeks.
Reagan James – “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over” (Lenny Kravitz) – Apparently, it was makeover week for the Team Blake ladies (only fair I suppose since Craig got made over by Gwen before the live shows). The emphasis on both Jessie and Reagan’s looks will make or break them this week. If you had to vote on performance alone, this was disappointing. Definitely not Top 10-worthy! In fact, this may be Team Blake’s weakest showing in several seasons.
Craig Wayne Boyd – “You Look So Good in Love” (George Strait) – If you’re a country fan, this is the performance you salivated over this week. It was the perfect blend of old country twang meets new country crooning. Garth Brooks and Luke Bryan fans have found a cause to unite and his name is Craig. His star was on the rise this week and I still think there are heights he has yet to hit.
Damien – “He Ain’t Heave He’s My Brother” (The Hollies) – Great control, clear shining notes throughout, an AMAZING final run and a killer song choice to boot: I dug it. But looking at the rest of Adam’s roster, I don’t think all of that will be enough.
Matt McAndrew – “Take Me to Church” (Hozier) – He rocked out hard but the song wasn’t for me. And that’s crucial when you’re asking for the general American public to pick up phone to vote or open iTunes and buy the song your artist covered this week. Talent – check! Relateability – unsure…
Chris Jamison – “Jealous” (Nick Jonas) – This kid knows what side his bread is buttered on. Or in this case, where his fan base lies. Team Heartthrob was panting the moment Chris took the stage in a slick suit. And he backed it up with effortless falsetto and some solid grooving dude dance moves. (Adam kvelled with pride, bopping along from his chair.) This was the best Chris has been this season. Watch out, Ryan Sill. My money is on Chris to win the dreamboat votes this week.
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC and CTV Two.