Time and again in The Voice’s Monday episode, there was the saddest kind of microphone drop moment – the way a singer was asked to move the microphone not just off the stage, but off the show. Along the way, Ariana Grande got tons of goosebumps, John Legend retained a purple-haired competitor that reminded him of Pink, Kelly Clarkson stole a 13-year-old dark horse from Ari, and Blake Shelton was so impressed with a performance that he remarked, « I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything like it. » Spoiler warning: this is the first. Enough the preamble, let’s summarize!
Team legend: Joshua Vacanti (grade: A-) defeated Keilah Grace (grade: B) with “good 4 u” | After the duo played through their Olivia Rodrigo cover for their trainer and mentor Camila Cabello, the theatricality of Joshua’s performance sold it. Now I love a little musical theater, but I don’t necessarily want the Phantom of the Opera to sing me Top 40 Pop. So I was, shall we say, worried. On the other hand, I wasn’t at all worried about mini-paloma Faith Keilah (who I was blatant for). On stage, Joshua’s performance was all over the map, but there was nowhere I didn’t want to go. He was great – vocally solid, wonderfully strange and unpredictable, and utterly convincing. My girl Keilah was good too – very Avril Lavigne – but between the shock of Joshua’s insane performance and what John called « the addition sauce » he was staging here and there, he couldn’t be beat. Disappointed, just like Ariana that she didn’t intervene to steal Keilah.
Team Blake: Carson Peters (Grade: B) defeated Clint Sherman (Grade: B-) in “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin” ‘Away “| Clint sounded like an old pro in rehearsal, but Carson’s performance had an urgency that drew my ear in his direction. Blake told Clint to do more of … Well, it looked like he was saying from Clint’s nose area. But I suspect he wanted Clint to use his stronger head voice to keep up with Carson. When the spotlight fell on the teammates, they delivered a perfectly adorable rendition of Vince Gill. Clint twisted and shaped notes like a sculptor’s clay, but that growl in Carson’s voice and its intensity made him the winner in my book (and it turned out to be Blake’s). Carson’s voice was the more memorable. In addition, as Kelly noted, he is « 17 years old and looks like a country Patrick Swayze ». In other words, he had a great chance of getting a part of the Teenybopper vote that wasn’t made up of die-hard Arianators.
Team Kelly: Holly Forbes (Grade: ???) defeats Wyatt Michael (Grade: ?? ?) at « Sunny » | After the tiny bit of her singing we heard, I would probably have leaned over to Wyatt. Yes, he’s pretty much a Sinatra impersonator, but he’s a good one. And I keep thinking, what is most memorable about Holly could be her appearance, not her voice.
Team Ariana: Jim and Sasha Allen (grade: ???) defeated Sophia Bromberg (grade: ???) in « Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours » | Argh, another battle with the abbreviated treatment. All I really got out of the clip was that I couldn’t remember Sophia at all and Sasha has the infectious energy of a happy pooch.
Team Ariana: Raquel Trinidad (Grade: B-) defeats Hailey Mia (Grade: C) on « Car Wash » – Hailey stolen by Kelly | Even before the two of them started rehearsing, I was ready to name it for 13-year-old prodigy Hailey, whose blind I liked so much more than Raquels. However, coach Ari was not satisfied and wanted to hear more from Hailey, not Rose Royce or Christina Aguilera, in their performance. Hailey also seemed to be having a bit of trouble hitting a certain high note. In the moment of truth … uh. First of all, I’m not sure if the song selection was the best. Regardless, Hailey looked and sounded uncertain and hesitant at times; perhaps a case of adolescent inexperience to get the best out of her. It wasn’t bad by any means, it just didn’t produce the wow that it carries. In contrast, Raquel packed a fair bit of personality and cheek into her more confident performance so that she could easily win this kind of tepid battle.
Team Kelly: Gymani (Grade: B-) defeated Aaron Hines (Grade: C) at « Working » | At rehearsal for the Battle of the Four-Chair Turns, Aaron may have been quite good, but to be honest, I could hardly hear him over Gymani, whose voice is so fantastically large and raw that it simply devours every other sound in the room. (Don’t think we ever have to worry about her being audible through the band!) After her run through, Kelly advised Aaron that not only could he be vocally smooth, but he also needed to be elevated (which he immediately proved that he can). As for Gymani, for the sake of competition, Kelly wanted her to drop her cool low notes in verse and get high to get noticed. When it started it was more of a flicker than fire. Aaron poured vocal butter all over the stage, which was pleasant enough but not that interesting or « OMG! » that he could overshadow Gymani, who is just a powerhouse, even if she is only half exercised. I must have overlooked what the trainers heard in Aaron so remarkable.
Team legend: Sabrina Dias (grade: B) defeats Jack Rogan (grade: B-) on « Cardigan » | When this duo first tried on Taylor Swift’s song for size, I gave Jack the edge. The purple-colored Sabrina sounded beautifully emotional, but there is something shadowy and seductive about Jack’s voice. If the twilight had a sound, it could be his voice. Then John asked Jack to go an octave higher on a harmony, and Camila encouraged Sabrina not to use all of her vocal power – – build on it. On stage … damn it. That was a tough job. I preferred Jack’s relaxed presence to the way Sabrina dubbed and pantomimated so many lines, but overall her voice was the better of the two – maybe because notes that came easily to her mind were so exhausting on Jack that they screamed him let-ah was ideal. Sad to see him go.
Team legend: Shadale (grade: ???) defeated Janora Brown (grade: ???) on « One Last Time » | In another shortened battle, Shadale did what we all expected of her and emerged victorious. It sounded a little uneven in the excerpt we heard, but John couldn’t resist her « Beyonce Jr. » Mood and star quality.
Team Blake: Wendy Moten (Grade: A) defeated Manny Keith (Grade: A-) in « If I ever lose my faith in you » – Manny stolen from Ariana | Before entering the rehearsal room, Manny asked Wendy how strange it would be if the singer actually knew her mentor. And what do you know She had just sung with Dierks Bentley a few weeks earlier. Once that non-introduction was complete, competitors went through their Sting cover – sounded pretty good too – and Blake advised Manny not to let uncertainty rush him. For Wendy, she had to remember to own the song, she no longer sang a backup. On stage, the teammates were an incoherent study of contrasts. While Smiley Manny whirled and bounced all over the place, Wendy was very quiet, very regal – presence in person. And every time she opened her mouth, she blew it away without what it seemed like trying. (At some point, I could have sworn she literally repelled him with the power of her voice.) Manny may have overdone the ultra happy dancing, but he was really good. The problem was with him against Wendy, this wasn’t a fight, it was a massacre. It was not for nothing that Wendy Ariana left her with “goose bumps”.
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