The Voice Recap: Reviewing the Top 10

The Swon Brothers go from karaoke to contender.
The Swon Brothers go from karaoke to contenders.

Hello there, Voice cadets! I’m weeping inside now that American Idol has ended, but with still a few weeks left to go until the fourth season of The Voice closes its doors for good, I’ll continue to dole out my recaps! I’m still beyond aggrieved that my favorite contestant Caroline Glaser got the boot so early on (that voice…Adam, why?!?!?), but so far the eliminations have been fairly appropriate. It looks as though once more it’ll be another Team Blake or Team Adam victory; however, one contestant from Team Usher could throw a huge wrench in that plan. Find out which of the Top 10 I’m referring to after the jump…

10. Josiah Hawley “Clocks” — Can Usher stop picking songs, pretty please?! I mean, you give the dude with the least developed voice and weakest range…a Coldplay track? That doesn’t make sense and almost smells of sabotage if I didn’t know how desperate Usher is not to have one team member left by tonight’s end. No matter, since Josiah is most certainly on the chopping block following a horrible performance of the U.K. band’s smash hit. His verses were shaky and poorly phrased, not to mention his falsetto was the equivalent of a toad being choked to death. Josiah had a nice closing note when he put some rock umph behind his upper register, but it couldn’t wipe away the dirty disaster beforehand. It’s a pity since I genuinely like Josiah, but with performances like these he might as well be walking over to the plank’s edge pre-results show.

Performance Review: (*½)

9. Kris Thomas “Adorn” — No matter how uniquely refreshing his high voice might sound to the ears, Kris is not emotionally ready enough to make performing a full-time gig. There was zero connection between him and Miguel’s lyrics, and the more he tried to convince us there was, the cheesier the whole affair became. Nerves rattled his voice, making every verse sound like a scared kitten lost in the woods. Technically speaking, Kris hit more notes that I figured he would considering the constant state of fear he was in, but it couldn’t salvage this trainwreck of a performance. Kris has been getting by on potential alone, but now that he’s gone three weeks in a row without living up his spectacular Battle Rounds performance, I can’t imagine America will drag him along any further. I don’t blame them.

Performance Review: (**)

8. Holly Tucker “How Great Thou Art” — Shoving your faith down America’s throats is always a double-edged sword.  Just ask Colton Dixon and Angie Miller, two frontrunners during their runs of Idol who ultimately turned off voters because of their excess adoration of God Almighty. Holly Tucker solidified her Christian/country fan base, but may have caused others to turn the other direction and run fast. The problem is that religion is such a hot issue button when pressed; a lot of times standing behind one’s religion means inadvertently stifling another person’s beliefs or way of living. Tucker meant no harm, but she should expect at least a bit of backlash for being so brazen about her worshiping. Vocally, Holly Tucker started off shaky and pageantry-like, lulling me to sleep on more than one occasion. She can always be counted on to produce fireworks by song’s end, but my god (no pun intended) was this performance a misfire! Performing so early on could spell trouble for Holly, possibly resulting in her elimination.

Performance Review: (**½)

7. Amber Carrington “Breakaway” — Apparently, I’m the only one who doesn’t see the supposed “greatness” in Amber Carrington. She has a pleasant voice and is likable enough to root for, but she doesn’t make me bend the knee and bow to her eminence. Note to all future singing competitors: never sing Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway.” No one has ever had a successful go at this uplifting track, which can sound incredibly sappy and syrupy if delivered wrongly, which the majority end up doing. You have to be totally confident in yourself and the message you’re selling when performing “Breakaway.” Amber’s tentativeness at the beginning conflicted with this simple directive. She found her inner strength before the song’s closing verses but it mattered little. These contestants have to stop feeding us the “glory note” BS in the hopes that we’ll magically forget the catastrophes that came before. Wrong choice of song, sweet girl, but still ultimately forgettable.

Performance Review: (**½)

6. Sarah Simmons “Momma Knows Best” — If you’d have asked me who I thought would win The Voice immediately following the blind auditions, I would have said — without blinking — Sarah Simmons. However, something happened along her journey that caused my feelings to completely reverse themselves. Maybe she’s trying too hard or just sounds vocally sloppy now that she’s made the Live Rounds, but I’m missing the polish and freshness of a “true” Sarah Simmons performance. “Momma Knows Best” was a risk, sure, but her growls and raspy intonations seemed more like dropouts from the garbage truck than graduates from the school of “Growl Expert” Haley Reinhart. I appreciate Sarah’s boldness, but the execution was messy and more than a little irregular for a pop song.

Performance Review: (**½)

5. Danielle Bradbery “Heads Carolina, Tails California” — If anyone is winning from Team Blake, it’ll probably be Danielle. Her voice is effortless and maturely confident enough to dominate any stage. For such a young teenager, it amazes me that she has no ego to speak of nor realizes just how prodigal her talent is. I wasn’t big on the song choice for Danielle, but it’s probably wise that Blake is sticking her so close to home on the country side of things. We always talk about singers crossing over from country to pop, but Danielle has the gift of taking a deeply-rooted country song and spinning it to appease a pop-attuned ear. Sometimes her eyes looked a bit lost and frightened, but all she needs is a bit more experience and she’ll be ready to hit that Grand Ole Opry stage. Taylor Swift, watch out! That’s all I’m saying…

Performance Review: (***)

4. Sasha Allen “Next to Me” — Sasha Allen is Shakira’s safest bet to make the finals, but my little firecracker has got to mellow out now and again. She gets so wrapped up in her performance that she begins to shriek instead of SANG — there’s a difference, mind you! When Sasha wasn’t putting both feet on the gas pedal, she actually made me care about this song and its lyrical content. I’ve always thought this track was a fun, throwaway ditty of a song but Sasha really dug deep to prove I was utterly mistaken. I love when Sasha plucks her voice from deep down in her gut and lets that earthy power explode onto the stage. Supreme diva, I heart thee when you behave that way! Now if only Sasha’s entire performance was consistent, I could full-on rave about it but alas…there were some hinky moments that will make you wince. Nevertheless, I still believe in the dynamic entity that is Sasha Allen and she ALWAYS manages to surprise us. We can’t live without her this season, let’s face it.

Performance Review: (***)

3. Michelle Chamuel “Just Give Me a Reason” — I still don’t agree with the over-bloated praise for Michelle’s vocal ability since she’s not that extraordinary of a singer (those low notes still need some Muscle Milk), but girl knows how to construct a stunning performance! Pulling us in with the softness and vulnerability of her voice, and then exploding with emotion and range midway through is exactly how you create a moment for oneself, not to mention flat-out win a singing show of this ilk. I cannot wait to see what Michelle does with each performance, and I hope it never ends since my excitement level from the show jumps from “eh” to “NOW WE’RE TALKING!” whenever she is up to perform. With this showstopper under her belt, Michelle’s standing in the competition is more than fine — she’s finale-bound if she keeps this up. I still challenge her to spruce up her voice so that if she wins, her victory will validate the show’s title.

Performance Review: (***½)

2. The Swon Brothers “How Country Feels” — Opposite of Sarah Simmons, The Swon Brothers made a huge transition for the better upon making the Live Rounds. They went from a karaoke act that seemed like cannon fodder, to a contending duo that could easily make the finale if they continue blowing everyone’s minds on a weekly basis. They are unarguably the most confident act of anyone left on the show, and their harmonies and authentic-sounding delivery also deem them as the most professional. I’ve underestimated The Swon Brothers and never imagined I’d thoroughly enjoy the comfortable, easy feeling that washes over me whenever they perform. “How Country Feels” was staged creatively, allowing the Bros to separate and show their individuality while still remaining in total sync. All they need now is a song with a bit more impact and I’d be an unwavering believer for life. There’s no doubt in my mind on this uncontentious point: “The Swon Brothers” is the best duo The Voice has ever had.

Performance Review: (***½)

1. Judith Hill “The Way You Make Me Feel” — I admit, I’ve been worried lately about Judith’s standing in the competition. Some weeks it feels like America either hates her, or worse, forgets about her presence on the show entirely. Being Michael Jackson’s ex-singing partner and carrying the pressure that comes with such a background would undoubtedly unnerve anyone. It’s perhaps why Judith’s performances haven’t been so stellar of late. I know she was worried that people in America would feel she was exploiting Michael Jackson’s high profile image for her own benefit when tackling his “The Way You Make Me Feel,” but I’m glad she stuck to her guns and turned her back on the haters out there. Trolls will troll no matter what. As long as Judith knows deep down she’s in no way tarnishing or taking advantage of her unique relationship with the King of Pop, that’s really all that matters. Aside from a wee bit of nervousness seeping out now and again, Judith’s cover was simply sublime. Her arrangement was so refreshing yet soulfully divine. She channeled Michael Jackson in the most respectful manner possible, pouring out his positivity but never forgetting his slicker-than-slick badassery that charmed many a listener. The way she tore into that final verse had me agape and totally proud. If Judith Hill leaves tonight, I say shame on America, because this girl can move us with her voice and her spirit…just like Michael.

Performance Review: (***½)


Definitely Safe: The Swon Brothers, Danielle Bradbery, Michelle Chamuel

Relatively Secure: Judith Hill, Sarah Simmons, Sasha Allen

In the Danger Zone: Josiah Hawley, Kris Thomas, Holly Tucker, Amber Carrington

Predicted to Leave: Josiah Hawley and Kris Thomas (which means Teams Shakira and Usher will be down to one contestant each)

That’s all for my The Voice recap! Sound off below in the comments section and share your thoughts on how you felt the night went. Is there still no clear frontrunner? Can the Swon Brothers actually win this thing? And of course, who is going home this evening? Express your opinions below!