By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
Last night, The Voice went live for the first time this season.
There were some excellent performances from standouts such as Lauren Duski, Chris Blue, Stephanie Rice, and Vanessa Ferguson, who made it to the Top 12. However, there were some awful decisions made by both America (choosing Aliyah Moulden over Felicia Temple) and Blake Shelton (choosing TSoul over both Felicia and Casi Joy).
Tonight, Team Adam and Team Gwen performed for their chance to complete the Top 12. Which artists rose to the occasion? Who needed either Adam or Gwen to save them at the end of the night? Read on to find out.
As everyone made fun of Blake’s bleached blonde wig, Team Gwen kicked off the second night of Live Playoffs. I was so happy that Gwen brought back Johnny Gates as her comeback artist. Johnny picked a song out of left field: Selena Gomez’s “Hands to Myself.” At first, I was worried about the song choice, but Johnny rocked the Universal Studios Hollywood soundstage, and his electric vocals put a smile on my face. Welcome back, Johnny! A-
Gwen chose Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” for Troy Ramey’s Live Playoffs performance. The New York Indie soul rocker was very pleased with her decision as his late father always told Troy that “Joni Mitchell was the most influential songwriter of our time.” While there were some moments where the band was louder than Troy, I thought that he executed the track very well and I hope Joni Mitchell was watching that performance. B+
Former Team Alicia artist Quizz Swanigan made his Team Gwen and Live Playoffs debut. The 14-year-old is still in eighth grade, but he lives and breathes Motown music. He tackled one of the greatest love songs of all-time: The Temptations’ “My Girl.” This kid has so much charisma going for him that he reminds me of watching younger versions of Michael Jackson and Bobby Brown. He has a bright future in the music industry. A-
As Quizz left the stage, 15-year-old (and America’s Got Talent alum) Brennley Brown took the stage. I am going to be bluntly honest with you, Brennley, you still have a long way to go vocally. I heard a lot of vocal glitches as you sang the first part of Maddie & Tae’s “Fly.” Please be consistent and do not let the nerves get to you, because if you do—I will be giving you Cs, Ds, & Fs all season. C-
For JChosen’s Live Playoffs performance, Gwen chose Prince’s “Nothin’ Compares 2 U” for him to sing. His coach also wanted his students to hear the song for the first time. While it is difficult to believe that it has been a year since Prince died, I thought that JChosen did the Purple One justice. JChosen might have been the breakout performance that I have been waiting for him since the Battle and Knockout Rounds. Hopefully, Prince is smiling down on JChosen after that superb performance. B+/A-
I was very disappointed to learn that Hunter Plake was going to sing Sia’s “Elastic Heart.” Like TSoul last night, I would have used the America’s Got Talent buzzer on Hunter. His voice is very one-dimensional, and I think he is a Will Champlin wannabee. If you want to see a spectacular performance of “Elastic Heart,” watch La’Porsha Renae tear the American Idol roof off with her bombastic performance. F
Adam brought back Johnny Hayes to be his comeback artist. He tackled the Rolling Stones’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, ” and it was a pure blues music bliss. Johnny H shines on stage, and his Live Playoffs performance woke everyone up who Hunter put asleep. In a sea of average singers, Johnny is a one-of-a-kind performer who could take this season by storm. B+
While Hanna Eyre is cute, I thought that she chose a wrong song for her Live Playoffs performance: Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper.” Ever since I heard Sam Bailey win The X Factor UK with this song in 2013, every singer that covers the tune has to meet her standard. Sadly, Hanna did not meet my standard. It was not a pleasing performance to my ears. D
18-year-old Josh West tackled Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” for his Live Playoffs debut. This could be way too karaoke or a spectacular surprise. I am glad that Adam advised Josh to take the song a half-step lower because it would have been difficult for Josh to go full voice. As much as I like Josh, there were some great moments, but I had a hard time watching that performance. Adam did a major disservice to Josh, and sadly this could be the end of the road for him. C
Team Adam’s resident heartthrob, Mark Isaiah, tackled Jon Bellion’s “All Time Low.” Just like Josh, I had a hard time listening to this performance, and I would have buzzed him. There were way too many vocal mistakes, and he lost the audience halfway through the second chorus. F
Lilli Passero has been one of the greatest female vocalists this season, and during the Knockouts, Adam made the biggest move of the season by stealing her from Team Alicia. Adam chose Carole King’s “It’s Too Late” for her, and it was pure magic. She hypnotized the Universal Studios Hollywood audience, and I loved that she showed this side of her voice. A
Jesse Larson closed out Team Adam’s Live Playoffs by honoring his idol, Stevie Wonder. He brought rock to “Sir Duke.” Jesse is an excellent guitar player; I could listen to his riffs for days. However, Jesse has an impressive voice that both honors the past but meets the contemporary music industry standards. A-
As Jesse left the stage, Team Gwen learned their fates. America saved Brennley Brown (UGH!) and Hunter Plake (Double UGH!). The final decision belonged to Gwen, who decided to pick Troy Ramey for her last team member. While I sent out an angry tweet about firing Gwen and bringing back Xtina to the show, it was time for Team Adam to hear the results.
The final members of the Top 12 were Jesse Larson, Lilli Passero (Yes!), and Mark Isiah (WTF, were you thinking, Adam?).
Next week, Shania Twain mentors the Top 12!