By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
The Voice: Season 12 Live Playoffs started tonight.
All eyes were on both Team Alicia and Team Blake as their teams hoped to rally America to vote them through to the Top 12.
Going into the Live Playoffs, I stated that both teams would be forces to be reckoned with, but after the coaches revealed their Wild Card choices (Felicia Temple for Team Blake and Jack Cassidy for Team Alicia), I think Team Blake now has the edge. Which artists proved their worth to both their coach and the nation? Who might their coaches’ last save on Wednesday night? Read on to find out.
Before I continue with the recap, I want to let everyone know that Jake’s Take letter grades are back and I will be giving a letter grade for every single performance this season.
Team Blake’s (and Kansas City native) Casi Joy kicked off the Live Playoffs! She dedicated her performance Chris Stapleton’s “Parachute” to her town of Smithville, which was damaged by a tornado earlier this year. Despite the guitar overpowering her, I believe that Casi Joy slew that song and made both Smithville and Kansas City proud. A-
I am so happy that Blake decided to choose Felicia Temple as his comeback artist. She was one of my favorite vocalists during the taped portion of the season. For her Live Playoffs performance, Felicia tackled Idina Menzel & Wicked’s “Defying Gravity.” My heart soared when Felicia sang the Act One finale song. She gave me the first chills of the live shows, and I pray that America gave her another chance to perform in the Top 12. A
14-year-old Aaliyah Rose is one of the season’s talented teens. I am glad that Blake stole her, but I am little perplexed that he picked The Pretenders’ “Brass in Pocket” for her to sing. I thought that song was very out of her range. I apologize to you, Aaliyah Rose, but I wished your coach chose another song for you to sing because “Brass in Pocket” did not correctly highlight your voice. C-
TSoul tackled one of disco music’s greatest anthems: “Knock on Wood.” I will be honest with you; if I were in Los Angeles, I would have hijacked one of America’s Got Talent buzzers because I would have buzzed him on the Universal Studios Hollywood soundstage. He screeched and warbled away through a classic song. One of the worst performances of the season. F
15-year-old Aliyah Moulden chose Duffy’s “Mercy” to perform for the Live Playoffs. Every time, I hear someone sing “Mercy,” I think back to X Factor USA’s inaugural season, where Rachel Crow made an impression and stole the show with her cover. I thought that Aliyah’s version was average karaoke because it had no heart or soul. C+
Lauren Duski closed out the Team Blake section of the Live Playoffs. The four-time show winning coach chose with Bryan White’s “Someone Else’s Star” for the Michigan singer-songwriter to perform. There is something about this woman’s voice that puts a smile on my face and gives me a large case of the goose pimples. Win or win not; I believe that Lauren is going to be the show’s breakout star that The Voice has been looking for the past few seasons. Bravo! A+
Chris Blue kicked off the Team Alicia portion of the Live Playoffs. I thought it was weird that Chris sang the song that got We McDonald to the Season 11 Finale, but I was extremely impressed that he sang Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain” in the original key. Chris’ falsetto did not fail him, and I cannot imagine this season without him. A+
17-year-old Anatalia Villaranda is one of the more talented teenagers that have ever appeared on the show. She dedicated her performance of Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” to her mom. I am glad that Alicia decided to take the song up a step because it gave Anatalia a great challenge. She delivered a solid vocal and of all the teens left in the competition, I would move her to the Top 12. A-
In all honesty, I thought that bringing back Jack Cassidy was one of Alicia’s worst decisions she made during Season 12. He chose a song that propelled Jeff Jenkins and Sisaundra Lewis to the top of their seasons. He sounded so bland and if Sir Elton heard this horrid rendition, he would go into his one of his legendary tantrums. F
I have loved Vanessa Ferguson since day one! She has challenged herself week after week, and I was a little hesitant that she chose DJ Snake & Major Lazer’s “Lean On,” but she transfigured the EDM anthem into a funky single that would be a club hit. I am glad that Adam and Alicia gave her a standing ovation and I 100-percent agree with Adam that Vanessa is ready for the music industry. A
To be honest with you, I do not get the hype with Ashley Levin. I think her voice is average and I thought that her cover of Tina Turner’s “I Can’t Stand the Rain” was very subpar. With both Casi and Lauren in the competition, I think that Ashley is very out of her league. F
Stephanie Rice closed the Live Playoff performances with her cover of Sting’s “Every Breath You Take.” For the second time this season, Stephanie broke my heart. This was a haunting performance, and I believe that she could be this season’s dark horse. A-
As Stephanie left the stage, it was time to reveal the Team Blake finalists. Adam honestly answered Carson’s question when he picked Casi and Lauren as Blake’s Top Two artists. It turned out that Adam was indeed Nostradamus when he chose Lauren. I am a little shocked that America chose Aliyah over Felicia and Blake picked TSoul over Casi to round up his team.
While Blake screwed over his chances of winning this season, it was time for Team Alicia to learn their fate. Meanwhile, Gwen stated that she would advance Chris and Vanessa if it were up to her. After Alicia gave a heartfelt message to her team, Carson revealed that Chris Blue and Vanessa Ferguson were America’s choices to advance to the Top 12. At the end of the day, Alicia chose Stephanie to complete her team!
Tomorrow evening, Team Adam & Team Gwen take the stage.