This is probably the toughest of “The Voice” performance shows because there is so little time for all 12 contestants to perform. It’s the one show of the season where “The Voice” becomes very much like “American Idol” — without, you know, all the dysfunction.
The show is also the first one where mentors can no longer save their teams — only votes determine who moves forward. It’s also the first show where being on a team doesn’t matter in the results any more, the bottom two vote-getters get cut, regardless of team.
That means the singers who have similar styles will have a tougher time this week and next. R&B singers Vedo and Kris Thomas will likely struggle, especially since their versions of Michael Jackson songs weren’t all that memorable. Country singers Amber Carrington and Holly Tucker both sang Martina McBride songs and Holly may be in trouble because Amber’s “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” was so much more powerful.
Despite the time restrictions, Judith Hill still had plenty of time to shine, with her moving version of “You’ve Got a Friend,” where she shows her range from the peak of her gospel power down to a sweet intimate whisper at the end. The Swon Brothers, who faced elimination last week until Blake Shelton chose to save them, were surprisingly strong on their tribute to the late George Jones, “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?”
And it’s pretty clear that the sweet teenager Danielle Bradbery, even though Shelton gave her the possibly age-inappropriate “Wasted” to sing, is the definite front-runner, with her strong voice and likable performances. Will she be tested by male model Josiah Hawley, who had his best performance yet with The Script’s “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved”? Um, do teenage girls scream?
Here’s how the Top 12 stacked up:
1. JUDITH HILL, “You’ve Got a Friend” (Team Adam): Coach Adam Levine called her “the most talented human being in this competition” for her ability to sing and play the piano so expressively.
2. THE SWON BROTHERS, “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?” (Team Blake): By the time they reached the chorus, they had everyone sold on their country authenticity and their vocal abilities.
3. DANIELLE BRADBERY, “Wasted” (Team Blake): She’s always likable, even when she got a little rushed in the verses. Once she settled in, she became the one to beat again. Shakira called her a “16-year-old Margaret Thatcher, a mini Iron Lady.” That’s pretty accurate.
4. JOSIAH HAWLEY, “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” (Team Usher): His take on The Script made the most of his upper register and allowed him to win over voters with his looks and charm.
5. AMBER CARRINGTON, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” (Team Adam): Her emotionally charged version of the Martina McBride song was a powerful moment for her.
6. MICHELLE CHAMUEL, “Call Your Girlfriend” (Team Usher): Got to give it up for Michelle, who continues to push the envelope by taking on Robyn. It was nice, but ended weird.
7. SARAH SIMMONS, “The Story” (Team Adam): A front-runner in the early rounds, she’s not learning as quickly as her competitors and is starting to get passed. She started the song a little too low and took a while to get on track, but is still good.
8. GARRETT GARDNER, “I Want It That Way” (Team Shakira): This was a smart song choice and a great plan to turn it into a rocker. Garrett couldn’t quite pull it off, unable to toughen it up enough without going off-key. But Usher was right: “No risk, no reward.”
9. SASHA ALLEN, “Alone” (Team Shakira): When your coach tells you you’re too theatrical when you sing this the answer isn’t making it more theatrical, no matter how strong your voice is.
10. KRIS THOMAS, “I’ll Be There” (Team Shakira): This was poor planning. The key started a little high for him and his use of falsetto made it seem, at times, that he couldn’t hold a note.
11. HOLLY TUCKER, “Broken Wing” (Team Blake): She was so much better than last week, though it got a bit much in places.
12. VEDO, “Rock With You” (Team Usher): This was too hard a song for him to sing and dance. He may have also gotten a little winded in the heat of the studio, which, as Carson Daly reportedly explained, did not have a working air conditioning system at the start of the show.
SHOULD BE CUT: Vedo, Holly
WILL BE CUT: Vedo, Kris
ACTUALLY CUT: Vedo, Garrett