The Voice Recap: The Live Playoffs!

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Welcome to the "live play-offs" of the Voice.

16 singers will face the voting public for the first time. Two from each team will be "saved by America". One will be saved by their coach. And one will go home. 

So, let's dig in:

Team Adam:

1. Amber sang "Stay" by Rihanna

Amber did finally win me over to the extent that I admired her technique and felt she had very very strong notes. However, it was a one-note performance that didn't really go anywhere, so I thought it was pretty dull. And she needs to beef up her falsetto. Adam, though, seems to worship her, so I'm guessing no matter what, she's safe.

2. Sarah sang "In the Arms of an Angel" by Sarah MacLachlan

It was a beautiful and heartfelt emotional performance that I believed. It was also a mannered and schizophrenic vocal performance that I thought was unnecessary. She could have way stripped down that vocal to match her simple straightforward emotion. She can do a lot of different things with her voice, but she doesn't need to do them all all the time. She's had a lot of build-up and praise, so it'll be interesting to see if America supports her.

3. Caroline sang "The A Team" by Ed Sheeran

First: She looks kind of serene and happy. Not lost. Or bereft. Which I think this song calls for.  But maybe she just has a bit of a Joker mouth. This was kind of an incoherent version of a none too clear song. Mostly because she is so mumbly. We were, like, "What? WHAT?" the whole time. Sure, she's different, but this was weak weak weak.

4. Judith sang "Feeling Good" by Nina Simone

I'm so tired of this song, so I wasn't happy this was the choice. But Judith struck out on her own with the arrangement and won me over. It was interesting to hear, in the package, that she's been battling a vocal node. It actually explains, I think, a bit of a strain I hear in her upper range that I feel was not noticeable in her original audition. Nonetheless: She's a rock star, node or no node.

Bottom line for Team Adam: My guess is that Sarah and Caroline may be in the bottom, and that Adam will save Sarah. Although he said Caroline was different than the other three, so it might be strategic to save Caroline...but he's probably hoping America does it, because it would really be hard to pick her over any of these other three.

Team Usher:

1. Josiah sang "Starlight" by Muse

He looks a little too pained while singing. There's a fine line between a sexy scowl and a constipated wince. And while usually the house bands on these show rock it out appropriately, I don't think the overall band approximated Muse's anthemic power very well. Bottom line: It was a bad song choice. He sounded fine. But not amazing. He's at risk.

2. Cathia sang "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston

She was a little over-expressive at times, but she definitely has passion and control...and dynamics. I've heard this song sung by these kind of contestants many times, and she definitely rocked it out compared to other non-Whitneys. I really didn't quite get how much the coaches all threw her under the bus. I didn't think she was no worse than anybody else.

3. Vedo sang "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins

Why do these shows pick this song? It's over-played. He did a nice enough job singing something a little more pop, a little more sustained. But this wasn't his best vocal. He totally put himself at risk after last week's knockout performance.

4. Michelle sang "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper

Michelle did a really nice job. Like Sarah, she had a strong emotional connection to the song. I felt something when she sang. Unlike Sarah she let the simple melody and her emotion tell the story.

Bottom line for Team Usher: My guess is that Josiah and Cathia may be in the bottom, although I would put Josiah and Vedo there. I think the way everyone reacted to Cathia's performance indicates she may be going home. I'd send Josiah home, probably, despite the pretty. 

Team Shakira:

1. Garrett sang "Imagine" by John Lennon

Ugh and meh. Certain iconic songs are not about vocal gymnastics; they're about the message and communication of that message. If you can't bring something new to it, don't try it. Garrett did not.

2. Kris sang ""When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars

After hearing Candace sing it on American Idol last week, I was not sure Kris could measure up. And for the entire first verse/chorus he couldn't. He sounded thin. He did amp it up for the break, but his usually strong falsetto failed him a bit at the end of it. I thought it was only OK.

3. Karina sang "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green

This was the first time I noticed how much Karina's throat and chin wobbled while singing. Throat and chin-singing indicates to me that her technique isn't solid, and it will hurt her voice eventually. Knowing that, it always disturbs me to watch someone sing that way. All that being said, I like Karina, but felt that was her worst performance on the show so far.

4. Sasha sang "Oh Darlin'" by The Beatles

Olivia Pope Beyonce drops mic. That is all. #girlcrush

Bottom line for Team Shakira: I would put Kris and Garrett in the bottom, no question, even though this was a weak night for Karina. Shakira has a bit of an inexplicable soft spot for Garrett ,so I think it may be the end of the road for Kris.  

Team Blake:

1. Holly sang "How do I Live" by Lee Ann Rimes

She really has a strong voice and good technique. I'm not sure it was an incredibly deep performance...all one level of strong strong singing. Which, you know, does well on these shows (see: Carrie Underwood).

2. The Swon Brothers sang "Fishing in the Dark" by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

They sound good and have a good overall sound. But it's not exactly a song that went anywhere or had much dynamics. Nor well-known. I think it might have put them at risk.

3. Justin sang "Meet in the Middle" by Diamond Rio

Justin delivered on this also-obscure choice (for a non-country music fan, anyway). He is pretty dynamic and good for a country singer. And he's cute. So, likely safe, don't you think?

4. Danielle sang "Maybe It Was Memphis" by Pam TIllis

Nothing to complain about there. She did a nice strong job on an interesting song, more interesting as a song than some of the other country songs with which i was unfamiliar.

Bottom line for Team Blake: I felt Danielle and Justin were the clear stand-outs. And between Holly and the Swon Brothers, I feel pretty confident that Blake will save Holly.

But what did you think??

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