Live during these trying quarantines, The voice entered uncharted territory on Monday, organizing his playoffs with the coaches Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and Nick Jonas as well as the Top 17 being teleported from their home (or almost), and Carson Daly coming from all without audience. And for the most part, it went very well. Better than most of my Zoom cats, anyway.
We have achieved exceptional performances from several contenders (see which ones below) and have learned whether Nelson Cade III from Team Legend (my choice, despite a last effort), Michael Williams from Team Nick (your choice), Samantha Howell from Team Kelly or Blake of Team Kelly Todd Michael Hall won the four-way knockout. And did I mention that we got a whopping 17 performances? Because we did it. So enough gossip, let’s recap
As the episode started, we were treated to a performance of “Shower the People” by Mega Mentor James Taylor and the contestants which was so beautiful, it bode well for the show that was to follow. (And how beautiful this field of flowers was in which we saw Joei Fulco from the Blake team!) After that, Carson arrived with the coaches, Blake armed, as we expected, with a full cup, and revealed the results of the…
Winner | Michael Williams (Nick team)
Eliminated | Samantha Howell (Team Kelly), Todd Michael Hall (Team Blake), Nelson Cade III (Team Legend)
Thunderstorm Artis, “Summertime” – Grade: A | Oh, man. From the first note, I was on the edge of my seat. The storm was just a scary magic – it makes you bend over and listen more closely, hanging on every beautiful note. If I were John, I should have kicked myself for letting this guy go. It is not good, it is not great, it is impeccable. Dude even took a whistling break! Unreal.
Allegra Miles, “New York State of Mind” – Grade: B + | Well done. Two singers, and this show kicked your ass. Allegra did quite terrifying – and, if I’m not mistaken, paid a little more attention to her utterance than she has done in the past. Maybe she had a little jelly at the end, but overall it was more than solid.
Arei Moon, “Finesse” – Grade: A- | Now you know Arei has some charisma to spare if she could give the impression of a show at home that it was as fun as an exuberant concert – and she made. Plus, she was vocally on point. When she finished, her trainer said that she was sweating because he had danced too much while she was singing.
Roderick Chambers, “Lost Without U” – Grade: B | Aw, I felt bad for Roderick from the start. His falsetto was sweet like marmalade, light and smooth enough to spread on toast. But I had a feeling that this was not going to be a performance that would resonate with viewers. Maybe feeling that, Nick suggested (hint) after (enough) please that maybe (come on, guys) what Roderick had accomplished would set Twitter on fire.
Michael Williams, “Sign of the Times” – Grade: C + | Technically, the survivor of the Four-Way Knockout probably got the right notes on his Harry Styles cover. But her performance was as flat as a sheet of paper – she had no weight. It was as dishonest as me to say no to a second glass of wine. I didn’t know what Kelly was talking about, calling Michael “so rock-‘n-roll”. No, Kelly. Quite simply not.
Zan Fiskum, “Blowin ‘in the Wind” – Grade: B | To borrow one of the coaches’ favorite adjectives, Zan was fascinating. At first, I wondered if she was going to be in trouble with the vote since her cover of Dylan was more intimate than bomb. But then she went wild, and if she really needed it, she ran away. Kelly, perhaps more deeply in her wine than I in mine, said that Zan’s interpretation of the classic was the best she had ever heard.
Mike Jerel, “All My Life” – Grade: B | I love Mike from the Blinds. I love the drama of it. But I’m not sure it’s the best selection of songs for him. Aside from a small section that allowed him to really belt and wake us up, it was mostly stupid, like a pancake that had been in the syrup a little too long.
Mandi Castillo, “Corre” – Quality: B | It could have been my favorite Mandi performance. She was not watching, she was just supremely present. And the voice it turned out was immaculate and charming. I still wouldn’t have traded Thunderstorm for her like John did, but it was very pretty.
CammWess, “Ain’t No Sunshine” – Grade: A- | Speaking of singers, John should never have let go; at least he got CammWess from Kelly. His performance here was almost good for a thunderstorm. CammWess sang with clarity and passion that made it sound like every note was intended only for your (my? Our?) Ears. When he finished, John praised the standout “buttered” tone with an outpouring that I usually keep when describing pastries. (But honestly, his voice was also buttered!)
Megan Danielle, “Anyone” – Grade: C + | Oh dear. Megan tripped right out the door. She recovered, notice. But this difficult start (and OK, the end too), I feared, was going to cost him dearly. The brutality that makes Megan so memorable was present in abundance, but this time the lack of training that she had so often made us forget. Fingers crossed, it will be the one Kelly chooses to save on Tuesday.
Mandi Thomas, “Hope you dance” – Grade: C | Hmm … Unlike Megan, Mandi has tons of training. However, it still struck large bazous worthy of grimaces. And the general impression she left was [insert shrug here]. “You can sing anything,” Kelly reminded him afterwards. So, uh, why did she sing that? I have a feeling that she is going to be in trouble on Tuesday.
Micah Iverson, “Your Song” – Grade: B + | Micah should have given the performance of a lifetime to convince me that Kelly had let Tayler Green go for him. He does not have. It was perfectly nice, however, and almost certainly strong enough to see it until the next round.
Cedrice, “All I Wanted” – Grade: C | Oh, Cedrice. I always want to be as intrigued by her voice as by her look. But as usual, she was a little behind, a little weak. Had it not been for the fact that she had cut such a striking figure, she would have been completely forgettable. “Superstar,” his coach called him. “I don’t think it means what you think it does,” I replied on television.
Toneisha Harris, “Stronger (what doesn’t kill you)” – Grade: A- | Toneisha is the very definition of crowd pleasure. His voice is like a jolt of electricity sent through your body through your ears. I could have listened to her cover of Kelly over and over. My only minor complaint is that I wanted her to go even further to go bankrupt (which probably means that I should admire Toneisha’s restraint).
Joei Fulco, “Runaway” – Grade: B | Joei has really grown on me since the Blinds, when I called it a bit just like a Cher sound. Here she was in a beautiful voice, showing an impressive scale and a kind of rasp that I never get tired of. But the arrangement was a complete failure, I think it will endanger her during the Results Show.
Joanna Serenko, “Rich Girl” – Class: A- | Oo, Joanna gave us vibrations from Rickie Lee Jones, and I lived for that. Its Hall & Oates blanket was as fresh as a slice of watermelon on a hot summer day. Or, as his trainer said, “You killed him, sister. He says a lot, I know, but maybe this time he really wanted to say that. She was awesome.
Todd Tilghman, “Glory of Love” – Grade: B | When I heard the first strains of this former Peter Cetera, I suddenly became Kelly: “Oh my God, I love this song! “Once I recovered, I settled in to enjoy a better than average hit rendering. The problem was, when Todd wasn’t, you know, Todding – getting completely wild it sometimes seemed a little meh. Pleasant but not exciting.
So how did you think The voice successful with his socially distant playoffs? Who really won you over? Vote in the poll below, then comment.