Left to right: Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine.
The blind auditions are a thing of the past. The head-to-head battles are a thing of the past, and now it is time to start with the live performance shows, allowing the audience a chance to get involved, to vote for their favorites. I do think it only right to offer congratulations to Blake Shelton, for he not only co-host the Academy of Country Music Awards show with the brilliant Reba McEntire, he also picked up the award for Best Male Vocalist. To celebrate, his team will start the competition tonight, along with Christina's team. First up is Jermaine Paul, the background singer stepping into the spotlight. He will be singing Bon Jovi's song Living On A Prayer.
Jermaine did a nice job, for he is a strong singer. It was an interesting song choice, one I am still unsure about. He took the rock anthem and injected large amounts of soul, and at times changing up the phrasing in the chorus and bridge to lay claim to the song. The big notes on the chorus seemed like they were at the outer edge of his range, but he managed to bring it home. We shall see if it worked for America. Next up is Chris Mann from Team Christina, and he will be singing Bridge Over Trouble Water, the iconic song from Simon & Garfunkel. If Blake's choice was unexpected, this is totally predictable. While I like Chris, I found it to be an uncomfortable fit, with moments the phrasing strayed from the tempo. As he tried to put dress the song up with melisma and seemingly superfluous runs, it just felt a bit inorganic and forced. But he has a lovely voice, when he doesn't bury it.
Back to Team Blake, we have RaeLynn, the quirky 17-year-old that seems to make up the core of Blake's team. She takes on Wake Up Call by Maroon 5. I find her to be more affectation than effective singing, but she did command the stage and owned the song. I would not have known it wasn't a Country hit to start with. Again, we'll have to see what American thinks. After a commercial break, it is time for Moses Stone, a member of Team Christina. Christina seems to spend much time trying to defend the choice of him in a competitor in The Voice. He performs a mash-up of Stronger and Power, both by superstar Kanye West. He performs the heck out of it, although singing very little of it. I don't get the thought behind using someone else's raps, so this ends up falling a bit off for me. So far, I have yet to really be able to see much quality vocals from him.
Naia Kete is the next competitor from Team Blake, singing Turning Tables by Adele. He tells us repeatedly that she is unique, which could be the name of team. During the rehearsal process, she seemed to want to take it in a reggae vein, although Blake encourages her to stick with a sparse, acoustic bent. She forgoes the reggae, and keeps it simple. She has some rather nice moments, but the quirk just seems to go further than actual substance.
For Team Christina, it is time for Lindsey Pavao, who will be singing Somebody I Used To Know by Gotye. As this is playing, I think it is nice, but also sounding like 15 other covers of the song I can find anywhere. It ended up falling a bit flat with me, at times falling in to affectation and bizarre accents. Afterwards, when Christiana was talking about the unique arrangement, I just shook my head and decided to move on. So I did, and it was time for Jordis Unga, who will perform Alone by Heart. It seems like a great choice, and will allow Jordis to shine. On the stage, she did just that, taking time to caress the quieter nuances, as well as slamming on the big moments, and soared with the song. My favorite of the night so far. Christina's next contestant is Sera Hill, who is singing Drake's Better Find You Love.
Now I know Christina continues to talk her up as being so much like Mary J Blige, but I don't see it. Mary J is a special talent, with a rich voice that carries so much with each note. For me, Sera tends toward shrill, lacking breath control. This left me focusing on the shirtless guys, not the supposed diva-in-training. So I move on to Erin Willett, who will be singing Living For The City by Stevie Wonder. Well, we find out she picked the song, and I just find it unfortunate,for it sounds rather dated. She starts off with a rather nice blues feel to the first several phrases, before it blows up into the 1970s funk song it is. She has a big, bold voice that is rich, but I have yet to hear it sound relevant to the music of today.
Next up we have another 17-year-old, this time from Team Christina. Ashley De La Rosa will be singing Right Through You by Alanis Morissette. This is the type of music she wants to sing, so we will be able to get her real flavor with it. There are real inconsistencies in her performance, showing a lacking in her vocals. They strayed from flat to paper thin, and at times falling into affectation. Blake is back to introduce his final singer of the night, Charlotte Sometimes. She comes out to perform the Paramore song, Misery Business. I am interested in how she will take this on. Blake thinks they are too much alike, which makes me smile. Her performance combines the bombastic core of Paramore, with softer moments that are pure Charlotte Sometimes. She does a nice job, although she does seems to trip up a bit with the staging. Her nerves do show.
The final performance of the evening goes to Team Christina when Jesse Campbell sings the classic by Louis Armstrong, What A Wonderful World. I can't help it, I release sigh the moment I hear the song. I know Jesse can sing, but really, this song? He sings it, and I know it is all about the last four seconds, but I find it lacking for the first two minutes. Jesse is far too talented to let this performance represent him.
Apparently, America will vote until 10AM Tuesday morning, and will save three contestants from each team, and four will be packing their bags and heading home. Who it will be, I have no idea. We will have to tune in Tuesday night at 9PM to see.