The Voice introduced a new wrinkle this season, the playoffs. Basically, it’s the Hunger Games, only Voice style as the remaining five members from one team perform and then the coach picks three that he will take to the live rounds.
Team Blake was up first, five artists entered, and only three survived. So, now, the performances in order and may the odds be ever in their favor!
Audra “Belle of the Ball” McLaughlin – “Broken Wing” by Martina Mcbride
Truth be told, I’ve never been a fan of Audra, who chose this song to prove she can handle anything as she was fighting back tears over Blake being on her side. It was a serviceable performance until she tried to build up the power and emotion, and then that broken wing crash-landed on the stage in a blazing inferno. She oversung trying to give 100 percent when 75 percent would have gotten the job done.
Adam thought she needed to “unleash the beast.” Well, she did and it was a bad, bad beast without the beauty. After the performance, Blake was already feeling the heat in the kitchen, so you knew there was going to be a lot of phony agonizing and over-the-top stressed facial expressions. Who’s excited?
Ryan “Funny Man” Maloney – “Second Chance” by Shinedown
Ryan chose this song because it represents a turning point in his life. How touching.
The song was a risky choice and it was obvious. It sounded cartoonish and man-boy simple, devoid of the emotional attachment that a life-changing song is supposed to invoke. It even came with an uncalled-for guttural scream that’d make Wilhelm blush. Other than that odd moment, it was like watching an automaton sing.
The coaches were positive because they like lying and getting paid to blow smoke. He was beyond rough around the edges and unpolished. Blake was overwhelmed by the task at hand. Cue pained facial expression! Before the break, Adam talked about getting a Bro-vorce from his Bromance with Blake. It was getting intense. They might need lawyers.
Madilyn “Young Gun” Paige – “Clarity” by Zedd ft. Foxes
Before the performance, Usher mentions he thinks Madi can go far. So far, in fact, that he didn’t even bother to keep her on his team. Smoke blowing.
Madi has actually grown on me as the show has gone on because she has the talent, but tends to lose it because of nerves. She often seems overtaken by the moment, appearing to stumble from stage fright. During this performance, you could argue those issues were still present, but she was enchantingly beautiful, starting to learn to let it all go and just focus on singing. She has power, but knows when to rein it in and that helped her prevail over the anxiety monster.
She is a perfect mixture of alternative pop and given further opportunities, she could win the competition. Blake was “proud” he used his steal on the blossoming teen sensation with the unique voice and he should be.
“Big Country” Jake Worthington – “Anywhere With You” by Jake Owen
Jake let it be known he loves his girlfriend because she makes him feel like a “skinny guy,” and this song choice was for her, hoping it would show off his “strong and tender” sides.
Jake came out raising-the-roof fired up and why not? He owned the verses, sounding better than Mr. Owen. It was the chorus that tripped him up a little bit, but that was a minor struggle and nothing to be worried about because he had that connection. Struggle or not, you knew he was singing to his someone special.
Shakira said he was “a star,” but better than that, he was humble.
He criticized his performance more than the paid-to-lie coaches, saying he knew he had pitch issues and was a little shaky in the beginning. Adam joked he was “all jacked up on Mountain Dew” and a Ricky Bobby love affair began. He is real deal country with manners and is “adorable” according to my wife, who has a thing for cowboys. No, I’m not a cowboy.
“The Revelation” Sisaundra Lewis – “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel
Sisaundra is on my short list of top contenders — No. 3, in fact. She has so much vocal ability it’s amazing. Having said that, this often leads to her occasionally over-thinking and trying to do too many things within the confines of the performance. Sometimes less is more, but that is easily fixable.
Honestly, I don’t like the song she chose and it sounded a little too jazz-lounge act for my taste, but she made it tolerable and pulled it off. Even doing a song style I do not prefer, she confirmed that she has the deepest bag of vocal tricks left on the show. It is a voice that Usher “loves” and everyone is still shocked she is on Team Blake. Trust me, so am I.
Blake says when he talks to her, it is not from his head, but from his “heart” as he laments the “tough decisions” he has to make, which Carson calls his most “difficult decisions” yet! Aren’t they always? Before we get to Blake’s selections, I would have chosen Jake, Sisaundra and Madilyn.
After the commercial break, it was time for Blake to decide. There was a ton of anguished facial expressions. #eyeroll
Thankfully, there is always Carson to prod the coaches along before they run out of airtime. Blake says he “thinks the world” of them all and chooses Sisaundra because of her storytelling ability. Next, with a “pounding heart”, he chose Audra and I chucked my pen across the room. Audra? Really? Really?!
One spot left as the contestants get one last chance to give a message to Blake, who “hates every second” of the impending choice, as he chooses Jake.
That is the team Blake will take with him into the live rounds, while Ryan and Madi are sent home. Next week on The Voice, it’s Team Adam and Shakira, so until then, exit stage left and see you next week.