Song choice on “The Voice” is tricky because it can make or break a finalist’s chances -- sometimes without any consideration to the actual performance.
Night Two of the live playoffs offered some prime examples of good song choice strategy. Anita Antoinette’s version of “All About That Bass” showed what can happen when a hot song is done well, offering enough of a twist to make it her own, while keeping it likable.
Bryana Salaz’s choice of 5 Seconds of Summer’s “Amnesia” was also smart, tapping into the #5SOS fan base of vote-happy teens. Their support may be enough to save Bryana, despite an only OK performance.
Here’s how the night shook out:
Ryan Sill, “I Lived”: It’s fun watching Ryan trying to play against type by rocking out to the OneRepublic song. The “come on!” screams seem forced, but his delivery remained sweet. Why he was wearing a weird asymmetric shirt that looks like he came from 1983 was never explained, but he could still be in the American One Direction.
Bryana Salaz, “Amnesia”: Oh dear. She made the tender 5 Seconds of Summer song, huge and overdramatic. Its massiveness lessened its emotional connection, but the judges all praised it. “You grew as a singer right before our eyes,” Blake said.
Anita Antoinette, “All About That Bass”: Anita’s reggaefied take on the Meghan Trainor smash was the most enjoyable performance of the night, even if she did run out of air on a few notes. “You have that personality that’s so natural onstage,” Gwen said.
Ricky Manning, “Lay Me Down”: His version of the Sam Smith hit was sweetly awkward, with flashes of brilliance on the difficult song. The uncertainty served him well, though he got to put it away with some power notes. Adam said the performance made him “most improved.”
Taylor John Williams, “Stuck in the Middle With You”: His bluesy take on the Stealer’s Wheel classic was heavier, but still stylish in a John Mayer-esque way. “It was a cool and inventive way to do the song,” Adam said.
TOP TWO: Anita, Bryana (Actually Anita, Taylor)
GWEN SAVES: Ryan
WILL BE CUT: Ricky, Taylor
SHOULD BE CUT: Bryana, Taylor
ACTUALLY CUT: Bryana, Ricky
Jean Kelley, “Piano in the Dark”: In her quest to make the Brenda Russell chestnut from the ‘80s more dramatic, she took away all the original’s swagger, leaving it kind of emotionless. However, her voice was still pretty good. “You need to work on believability just a little bit more,” Gwen said. “I’m not trying to be negative.”
Elyjuh Rene, “Latch”: The weird arrangement of the Disclosure hit didn’t do Elyjuh any favors. The lengthy windup allowed him to showcase his great voice, but it made the song a little bland. The full-steam ending, though, was outstanding, rendering Adam speechless and landing him a standing ovation from all the coaches. “Stay on that path, you’re good kiddo,” Pharrell said. “That voice is amazing.”
Luke Wade, “Let’s Get It On”: Luke’s take on the Marvin Gaye classic was so easy and lighthearted that it had a whole other feel. It didn’t pack the expected punch, but it sure made him even more likable, more “Luke-alicious” as Adam said.
DaNica Shirey, “Help Me”: She did a lovely job on the Joni Mitchell classic, which apparently she (and Blake) had never heard before. It didn’t show. “Ability-wise, there’s nobody like you,” Adam said. “You just turned Joni Mitchell into Chaka Khan.”
Sugar Joans, “I Say a Little Prayer”: She split the difference between Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick on the classic, while throwing her own tough-girl vibe to it, which resulted in some cool, but also some errant notes. “You just had your moment,” Gwen said. “That was church,” added Adam.
TOP TWO: Luke, Elyjuh (Actually Luke, DaNica)
PHARRELL SAVES: DaNica (Actually Sugar)
WILL BE CUT: Sugar, Jean
SHOULD BE CUT: DaNica, Jean
ACTUALLY CUT: Elyjuh, Jean