‘The Voice’ Recap: Reviewing the Top 8

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the voice top 8 Hey everyone! It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Well fret not, fans of The Voice, because I’m back to recap what’s turning into a pretty solid season. No, it hasn’t reached the greatness of Season 3 but we can’t win ’em all, right? The Top 8 finalists gave it their all this week on a night mostly worth remembering. I love when underdogs rise to the occasion and preordained frontrunners fall by the wayside, and last night was definitely an example of that. Below you’ll find my full commentary on all eight remaining singers, so enough small talk — let’s get this shindig started!

8. Matthew Schuler “It’s Time” – Yes Christina, it’s always smart to sacrifice someone’s strength – namely SINGING – in order to “put on a good show.” Well, a good show comes from a great vocal, and sadly Matthew Schuler delivered a pretty lackluster rendition of the upbeat “It’s Time.” Schuler has gusto and commitment, but vocally he’s all over the place this week. Shouty, whiny, and hitting bum note after bum note, Schuler and Christina might want to go back to the drawing board. He’ll need to rely on his large fan base to get him into the Top 6.

Performance Review: (★★)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIz-0GjiBTE&feature=player_embedded

7. Caroline Pennell “Dog Days Are Over” – I was excited about Caroline early on in the competition, but now I see her unique voice doesn’t have the necessary range to make an impact on the big stage. She tries her best on this rock-indie anthem but you can tell she’s struggling. I miss the intricacies of her tone, and unfortunately this song is not highlighting them whatsoever. Aside: why is Cee Lo giving Caroline a song that was such a breakthrough moment for his Season 1 alum Vicki Martinez? Caroline is only going to appear weaker by comparison. For my money, this is the most disappointing performance to come from a contestant I once deemed a frontrunner.

Performance Review: (★★)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTzPGNl4ysQ&feature=player_embedded

6. James Wolpert “Somebody to Love” — For such a dynamic performer, I was expecting a bit more boldness on Queen’s classic love anthem. According to Wolpert, his version offers a “new arrangement,” constructed in part by his girlfriend. I wish I had heard the squeaky-clean freshness but alas, I must be deaf. Truth be told, I’ve never been a fan of Wolpert’s but I have to give the theatrical singer props for staying true to his overzealous nature. Even when his vibrato and falsetto sounded a bit funky, you could always feel the infectious energy pouring out of him. I’ll never be fully sold on Wolpert, but his passion alone is enough to keep him in the competition. By the way, production designers…ENOUGH with the choir accompaniment already!

Performance Review: (★★½)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7Uf1137YFs&feature=player_embedded

5. Ray Boudreaux “Gimme Some Lovin'” — Ray’s old-fashioned style will always keep him at arm’s length from mainstream audiences, but you have to give him credit for embracing his cheese-ball numbers with guns blazing. He handles the fast tempo and upbeat melody of “Gimme Some Lovin'” fantastically. Unfortunately, this song choice has worn out its welcome and feels dated. Ray may be John Travolta-cool, but John Travolta is no longer the “it” dude of the moment, not by a long shot. Ray still needs to push himself and find common ground with the 21st century. For now, he continues to be stuck inside a time capsule.

Performance Review: (★★★)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ya7mZhRhz4&feature=player_embedded

4. Tessanne Chin “Underneath it All” – I like that Tessanne is going back to her reggae and Jamaican roots, but this song choice is a bit yawn-inducing. She makes me feel like taking a nap underneath a coconut tree. The freestyle bridge is pretty gnarly but where is that fire throughout the rest of the song? I’m entertained to a degree, although part of me feels like we’re too deep in the competition to be pulling out such forgettable pop tracks to sing. Plus Tessanne’s vocals were just serviceable this week as opposed to extraordinary. Still, you can’t say this performance wasn’t original or inside the box.

Performance Review: (★★★)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uUgRhGXsz0&feature=player_embedded

3. Jacquie Lee “Who’s Lovin’ You?” – This is the performance that transitions Jacquie from a girl to a woman. She’s got a fire that incinerates the stage and a maturity that seems almost unreal considering her age (16, folks!). Aggressive yet emotionally splendid, Jacquie Lee channels the best qualities of her jazzy, soulful mentor Christina Aguilera with the rollicking “Who’s Lovin’ You?” She occasionally loses her pitch on those wonderfully inserted runs…but who honestly cares? Not me, no sir or ma’am! With one jaw-dropping performance, Jacquie just became Christina’s greatest chance at a victory this season.

Performance Review: (★★★½)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wt1kSx4bwRY&feature=player_embedded

2. Cole Vosbury “I Still Believe In You” – Cole is someone who has crept up on everyone and slowly turned into one of the frontrunners in this competition. Cole’s tremendous performance this week only emphasizes his contender status. Even when he lets his voice strain to emulate desperation, Cole never misses a note, beat or heart string. With this song, Cole has mastered the art of subtle power. Moving beyond words, Cole Vosbury is rapidly closing the gap between himself and the championship title. Country music, you’ve got a great addition to your genre.

Performance Review: (★★★½)

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x17n08q_cole-8_music

1. Will Champlin “At Last” – I’ll put it bluntly: if Will Champlin doesn’t make the last round of this competition, I will be appalled at the disrespect shown by a country that supposedly appreciates great artistry. His voice has a range that goes around the world and then some. The guy is so musically gifted, knowing exactly how much to stretch and how much to pull back. He’s a singing slinky for chrissake! Will delivered a showstopper that will have everyone on their feet and voting in droves. What I love most about this performance is how Will let go of all his perfectionist tendencies. He lived in the moment and out of his mouth came true brilliance. Etta James would have been proud. Bravo, Will. You’ve just moved out of the middle of the pack and into the winner’s circle.

Performance Review: (★★★★)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIsNLuX4Swk&feature=player_embedded

Predicted Bottom Three: Caroline Pennell, Ray Boudreaux, and Tessanne Chin (expecting a shocker)

Should Go Home: James Wolpert and Ray Boudreaux (simply based on overall history)

Will Go Home: Caroline Pennell and Ray Boudreaux

That’s all for this week’s recap. Post your thoughts in the comments section below and tell me who you think is leaving, winning, and who I’m either wrong or right about! Sound off, folks!