On night one of the live show of The Voice (Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET with a bonus episode on Wednesday on CTV), the singing show changed things up by featuring all 24 singers performing for the first time in one night. It was fast, it was entertaining, and it really cut down on all unnecessary recaps of contestants’ back stories that usually take up half the show.
All six performers for Team Alicia Keys, Team Blake Shelton, Team Kelly Clarkson and Team Adam Levine got their time to perform, with voting taking place for twenty minutes per team. Only three singers from each team will move on to the next round, with Monday night already revealing one saved singer from each team. The steals and saves are done and that means the stakes are higher than ever.
Some singers rose to the challenge of the live show, while others gave their weakest performances of the season. With so many singers and so little time, we picked our top and bottom three performers from each team.
Alexa Capelli’s song choice of “It Hurts So Bad” felt like something that was beyond her years and experience. That’s not to say she didn’t perform the heck out of it and hit every note, but the mature track felt like a jarring juxtaposition to her age and look. Also young is Brynn Cartelli, but her performance of Sia’s “Unstoppable” felt mature while still being age-appropriate. It was Cartelli’s weakest performance of the season thus far, but she still had moments that showed how powerful her voice is when she’s on. Also, what is up with everyone performing Sia this season? That’s, what, three, four songs so far? Unlike Brynn, Dylan Hartigan had his best performance of the season and continues to get stronger every time he steps in front of the mic, but we’re not sure that’s enough. Hartigan on his best day still isn’t on par with other contestants on their worst days.
Someone who hasn’t had a bad performance is Kaleb Lee, this seasons’ country singer that can make non-country fans love country. His performance of “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am” was emotional and beautiful and sad and featured a note that we have yet to hear Lee hit. But dang, the cowboy can saaaang.
Speaking of sang, Kelly saved Tish Haynes Keys during the last round and on Monday night’s live performance, and Keys proved why she was worth the save. If we smoked, we would have been lighting a cigarette after Key’s performance of “Nothing Left For You.” It was dark and sultry and so freaking good from her first note.
D.R. King was the final performer of Team Kelly to hit the stage and continued to impress us. While he’s going to need to start picking more mainstream songs to connect with the audience voting at home, he has done a good job of selecting songs that show off his voice and his charm as a performer.
SAVED: Brynn Cartelli
If you’re a ballet dancer, there’s no greater hurdle than taking on Swan Lake. In the pop music world, Michael Jackson is Swan Lake, which is why we don’t know what possessed Drew Cole to deliver a bar cover version of “Man In The Mirror.” Jackie Verna’s performance of Taylor Swift’s “Tim McGraw” was more country than Swift has ever sounded, but sadly her rendition didn’t deliver all the notes of Swift’s original. Jackie has a rich lower tone, but the high notes of the song proved to be a challenge. As for Rayshun Lamarr, he struggled throughout this performance of “Overjoyed” and missed notes we’ve heard him previously hit. Halfway through the performance he removed his ear piece, possibly indicating that he couldn’t hear the band correctly. Maybe it was the sound, maybe it was performing live, or maybe it was song choice, but we’ve heard better from Lamarr.
Mia Boostrom has always given us an Adele vibe, both with her voice and song picks, but on Monday she went straight country rock. Maybe she’s showing that she’s versatile or maybe she knows that viewers of The Voice tend to skew towards voting for country music artists. Either way, it was a smart move and showed an impressive side of her voice and skill as a performer that we’ve yet to hear and see.
Sharane Calister has delivered solid performances throughout the season, but when it comes to the live shows, many performers crack under the pressure. As for Sharane, she thrives. The young singer delivered one of the best performances of the night and showed herself as a true powerhouse. Don’t sleep on Sharane.
Team Adam’s final performaer was pinch hitting Reid Umstattd. This guy is as consistent as tax season, but enjoyable.
SAVED: Sharane Calister
I continue to be divided over Austin Giorgio. If The Voice was a reality singing show looking for the best Michael Bublé impersonator, Austin would win. But there’s already a Bublé and no one Bublés better than the Bubes. So, why would I buy Austin’s CD? Next was Spensha Baker, and while there’s no doubt she has a beautiful voice and a commanding presence on stage, her song choice of “I Still Believe In You” has me believing in mid-show naps. It was inspiring and pretty and unfortunately, forgettable. Finally, Wilkes, the man who doesn’t need a last name, or is it his first name, continues to leave us without a sense of his sound. Is he rock or country, grunge or pop? Maybe he’s a little bit of everything, but that also makes it difficult to connect with him.
Before Monday I had yet to get excited about Pryor Baird, but Monday night’s performance was exciting. It was raw and gritty and bluesy and showed more personality than we’ve previously seen from the country singer. Get down with your bad self, Pryor.
If you’re worried at all about recent absences from church, Kyla Jade delivered a mass baptism with “How Great Thou Art.” She brought herself to tears, which would normally strike me as self-indulgent, but if you can hit those notes, you get to cry at your own voice.
The Voice is all about talent, but it’s also a competition and that means being smart with your song selection and performance. Someone who has done their homework is Gary Edwards. He performed Bruno Mars’ latest hit “Finesse,” even hitting some of Mars’ famous dance moves. Edwards knows that you should pick a song that people love and recognize if you want to get votes from the masses. Let’s be real, everyone loves Bruno Mars. With all the excitement of the song, some of the notes got away from Edwards, but it was still hugely entertaining.
SAVED: Kyla Jade
Johnny Bliss broke my heart tonight. He’s been one of my favourites all season and I love that he’s incorporated Spanish into all his performance, even singing exclusively in Spanish for his performance of “America” on Monday night. But Monday night was also his weakest performance. Next was Terrence Cunningham, and while I respect that he waited to perform an Alicia Keys song until she wasn’t in charge of his fate, I didn’t love his rendition of “How Come You Don’t Call Me.” He stayed in falsetto for 90 per cent of the song and lost a lot of the power of the original with his rendition. Finally, another Swan Lake. It’s a pretty tall order to capture the haunting delivery of Michael Hutchence in INXS’ “Never Tear Us Apart.” Jackie Verna fell short, but so would any mortal. What she did do was nail the highs and lows of the track and deliver a solid performance.
When Carson Daly announced that Kelsea Johnson was performing “You Know I’m No Good,” I audibly said, “Don’t eff up Amy.” I should note, I was watching The Voice by myself. I didn’t need to send Kelsea the warning. She did Ms. Winehouse proud, giving a vulnerable, sexy, and sensual performance.
We thought that Christiana Danielle’s blind audition of the slowed down and sultry version of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” was impressive. It was, but Christiana upped the originality factor by about 100 on Monday night by turning Outkast’s high energy “Hey Ya” into a somber ballad. What the what was that? We are shook in the best possible way.
Another contestant on Team Alicia putting his own spin on a well-known track was Baby Matt Damon, aka Britton Buchanan. The teenager successfully made “Some Kind Of Wonderful” feel both older and newer than the original, taking a fresh approach to the Grand Funk Railroad hit. This kid may win the whole thing. Can I get a witness?
SAVED: Britton Buchanan