It’s time for another shake-up at “The Voice.”
The Top 6 are closer in quality and temperament than any other class and with them now doing two songs in each show, the chances of mistakes and knockout performances are doubled. Unfortunately, last night’s show had more mistakes than knockouts.
The fact that Will Champlin’s lyrical flub on “A Change Is Gonna Come” was so blatant and yet has gone virtually unnoticed is really worrying. Even if, for some crazy reason, he didn’t want to sing the song’s incredible opening “I was born by the river…,” surely people know the civil rights anthem shouldn’t start with “There were times when I thought and I thought and I do.” Right?
That puts slow-and-steady Cole Vosbury atop the leader board for the first time.
Here’s how the night shook out:
COLE VOSBURY, “Rich Girl”: Coach Blake Shelton gave him the Hall & Oates classic to showcase his growling soul, which he did impeccably well. Of the remaining contenders, Cole’s vocals are the most consistently likable, as is his easygoing personality. Can nice guys finish first? We’ll see.
TESSANNE CHIN, “Redemption Song”: Coach Adam Levine seems to be pushing Tessanne into a trap – making her into an artist he admires rather than one who will sell records (and get votes). She oversang the Bob Marley classic in order to prove that she had power as well as finesse. The problem is that the song is about relinquishing power, about asking for help. Maybe that doesn’t matter to voters, who just see her strong performance. Maybe nuance doesn’t matter. But she would’ve been better off singing it straight and understated, even though that would have been a far bigger risk.
MATTHEW SCHULER, “The Story of My Life”: This was a smart choice on Matthew’s part. The One Direction song could certainly do with a bit more power, but he kind of had to manufacture the moments here and it felt forced. The strategy of positioning himself with the young people, though, should help him, but it may also come off as desperate.
WILL CHAMPLIN, “A Change Is Gonna Come”: Oh boy. Champlin messed up the Sam Cooke classic pretty badly, singing the fourth verse first and then making up some words to try to cover the flub. However, neither Coach Adam Levine or Cee Lo Green mentioned it, even though it was incredibly obvious and Champlin struggled to hold it together in the middle.
JAMES WOLPERT, “Fell in Love With a Girl”: Wolpert bleeds all the cool out of the White Stripes rocker in order to make it a little more plaintive, which would be fine if his vocals didn’t retain the original’s edge. Coach Adam Levine pointed out his mix-up in the middle, which was surprising, but Levine applauded him for going off the beaten path. Blake admits he doesn’t know the song, yet he knew the One Direction song.
JACQUIE LEE, “Cry Baby”: Not sure why the 16-year-old has to sing a Janis Joplin song that’s all about heartbreak she hasn’t felt yet, but she did a nice job with it, until she ended up wailing on the floor in a heap. Being herself would be way more effective than just playing a role. “Who are you?” asks Carson Daly. Coach Christina Aguilera got up out of her seat to say how much of herself she sees in Jacquie.
COLE VOSBURY, “Better Man”: This dedication was weird, but the song was beautiful. Vosbury poured his heart into the James Morrison ballad and as Shelton says, “showing some character and how vulnerable you can be.” “You can do anything,” he said.
TESSANNE CHIN, “Unconditionally”: Adam Levine really needs to listen to what she’s telling him with song choices like this. Tessanne knocks the Katy Perry hit out of the park, showing that she could be on pop radio right now, rather than trying to be part of some reggae oldies circuit. “You are a world-class vocalist,” Blake Shelton said. “I wish people would focus on that more with you.”
MATTHEW SCHULER, “When a Man Loves a Woman”: Coach Christina Aguilera gives him the Percy Sledge classic to help him win back some fans. “It’s definitely a night for the classics,” Blake Shelton said. “That’s as good as I’ve heard you sing.” You could tell he was uncomfortable with singing soul, but he made it work well enough.
WILL CHAMPLIN, “Hey Brother”: It was a long build, but Champlin put some power into the end of the Avicii song to give it his own personal stamp. While he is certainly capable of much more, it was one of the best performances on a slightly off night. It was even more impressive to come back after messing up on his first number.
JACQUIE LEE, “The Voice Within”: “This is the most age-appropriate song for you,” Aguilera says after giving her “The Voice Within.” “I just see so many things for you in the future.” It was strong, and nice to see her not struggling to emote so much.
JAMES WOLPERT, “I’d Do Anything for Love”: You gotta hand it to Wolpert, he’s not timid about trying big songs. He swung for the fences with Meat Loaf’s ultra-dramatic ballad and, well, fouled it off. This is a big song and he just wasn’t big enough, coming up short at key moments, including the end. He could probably nail this some day, but this wasn’t that day.
1. Cole Vosbury
2. Tessanne Chin
3. Will Champlin
4. Matthew Schuler
5. Jacquie Lee
6. James Wolpert
BOTTOM TWO: James, Matthew
WILL BE CUT: James
SHOULD BE CUT: James
ACTUALLY CUT: Matthew