Monday, May 27, 2013

The Voice Season 4 • The Top 8 Perform

Well, it is Memorial Day Weekend and yet I am sitting at my computer, waiting for The Voice to come on. The Top 8 will be taking to the stage, looking to sing their way to the Top 6. Shakira and Usher are hoping the lone remaining contestant makes it through this week, and that Adam Levine and Blake Shelton might finally be sending an artist home. I might still be a bit cranky after they sent home 'the pretty' last week, leaving very little distraction from a few mediocre acts that should be going home. Between doing some tree and hedge trimming today, and losing the pretty one, I fear I might be a bit cranky this evening, so I hope the artists are ready to deliver!

The Voice Season 4 photo thevoice4_2_zps9b6b5c64.jpg
Left to right: Adam Levine, Shakira, Blake Shelton, Usher, and Carson Daly

Carson comes out to remind us to be grateful to those who have fought for our right to enjoy reality singing competitions. He introduced the judges, and reminded us who was sent home last week, and tried to remind us about the stakes for the teams, with the possible elimination of Team Shakira or Team Usher. Then he introduced 'rarely sober' Blake Shelton coming out to sing his latest single, "Boys 'Round Here". It is as close to a Country Rap song as I have heard, like, ever.

It is a fun song, but not one I will be running to purchase any time soon. However, if you are in a frame of mind that you have to have it, you can find it on his most recent release, 'Based On A True Story...'. You can find it on iTunes or Amazon. After a break, Carson talks to Adam about what his team needs to do to keep together. He also asked Shakira about what it will take to keep Amanda coming back, and Shakira hopes America will hear her great voice. Usher hopes America realizes there is no one else like Michelle Chamuel in the competition, and will keep her on the show. Blake hopes his team makes it through again, for he is just so proud of each and every one of them. Team Adam puts up with Judith Hill, who will be singing #thatPower, by Will.I.Am and featuring Justin Bieber. She takes a very Electro-Pop song and brings it to a deep Soul place, more James Brown than Justin Bieber. I think she was great, really showing off her amazing vocals and ability to really imprint a performance with her own style. Blake loved it, and thought it was yet another performance where he could find nothing to complain about. Usher thought she started the show off well, and is a real talent. Shakira loved what she did, and loved that she is taking chances with performances. Adam was so very proud of his star, and thinks of her more as an artist than a competitor on a singing show. After a break, Holly Tucker meets with Blake to work on her performance of the song "Done" by The Band Perry. Blake asks her to stay away from the pretty side of her voice, to get down with the angry side of the song. Here is The Band Perry with "Done".

I find this performance lacking, as Holly's vocals seldom show me any depth at all. She always reminds me of the girl taking the microphone at the County Fair. I kept wanting her to do something that wasn't predictable, that wasn't safe. It didn't happen. Carson called on Usher for his thoughts, tossing some shade by calling out Urkel (with his Michelle Chamuel glasses), and Usher served back, reading Daly as 'Jimmy Neutron', and damned if he isn't right. That could be my favorite part of the show so far. Usher loved Holly's boots, and thought she was incredible. Shakira loved the performance, and enjoyed the sass and attitude. Adam loved it. Blake tells her he is so proud, as it is the first time she has really owned the song. Really, Blake? You seem to love her every week, but this was the first time? I'll move on. Judith, Michelle, Sarah and Sasha team up to take on Rihanna's "Diamonds". All the ladies look great, and I have to say I was most impressed by Michelle Chamuel, who was so completely on the for the entire song. I thought Judith and Sasha were also wonderful, but Sarah kind of was overwhelmed by it all, and faded out a bit. During the commercial break, I see the advertisement for 'America's Got Talent', and I can't imagine a judging panel I would be less inclined to tune in to hear. Back on the show, Blake is talking to The Swon Brothers, who will be singing "Seven Bridges Song" by The Eagles. First they discuss what is happening back in their home state of Oklahoma, and all 3 are moved by what they have heard, and keep everyone in their prayers. Blake loves what they do in rehearsal, but reminds them it needs to be tight. They are the last men left, and the only duo or group to make it this far in the history of the show. Here are The Eagles performing "Seven Bridges Road".

They keep the harmonies tight and strong, and I loved it. There was a real strength and heart behind it. Usher loved it, and thought it was so strong. Shakira thought it was a little bit Country, and a little Rock & Roll, and loved it. Adam loved it, but noticed there were a few moments that were a bit scary. Blake was very proud of them, and thought this performance showed how talented and unique they are. Sasha Allen talks about the pressure of being the last representative for Team Shakira, and she will be singing "Without You" by David Guetta and featuring Usher. She comes out and sounds a bit vulnerable, but soon is owning the song, her voice coming out big and bold. She is killing the song, and brings it to a surprising soft and beautiful ending. Adam just tells her how bittersweet it is to hear her, and that she is with the right coach. Blake loved it, and thought it should keep her around for another week. Usher is so glad she did her thing with it, and thought she was great. Shakira loves her, and thinks she is just so talented, and made the risk of singing another coach's song pay off. After the break, it is time for Sarah Simmons to meet with Adam, as they talk about her singing "Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye and featuring Kimbra. Adam feels the song has been out of culture for long enough it will be fresh with her. I am not sure about that. He feels this is the artsy kind of music she should be making. Before too much longer, here is Gotye and Kimbra singing "Somebody That I Used To Know".

I loved her audition, but ever since then, I just feel she is all about affectation, not real communication. She doesn't sing a bad note, although there is that unfortunate scream near the end. I felt like the performance was scattered, and frantic, almost manic. Blake, Usher, and Shakira are all supportive and polite, but not gushing. Adam thought she was wonderful, and one of the first people to get the song right. I roll my eyes, and opt to just move on. The four Country acts will be working together, as The Swon Brothers, Holly Tucker, Danielle Bradbery and Amber Carrington get together to sing a great song by Sugarland. They tackle "Something More", and I have to say it is a little bit less successful than the earlier group song. While all four are Country artists, they all seem to have a different take on the song, and it never comes together. No one did badly, but I didn't feel anyone shined, either. All I can think of saying is "Next!" And that would be Michelle Chamuel, who is meeting with Coach Usher to talk about her take on "Grenade" by Bruno Mars. Usher wants to pare the production back, and show off her voice and artistry. Here is Bruno Mars singing "Grenade".

Michelle's performance is powerful, and soaked with real emotion. She connects with the song on a real visceral level, and shared that with me. This was the best performance of the night, and she just controlled that moment. Shakira thought it was spectacular, and Adam was excited to watch it, and called it one of the best of the night. Blake was impressed such a big voice comes out of such a little human being. And he thought it was her best so far. Usher is so proud of her, and what a special artist she is. I have to agree with him. After a break, we learn that Danielle Bradbery will sing "Grandpa" by The Judds, one of Blake's all-time favorite songs. In rehearsal, she struggles a bit with the lyrics. We also learn she never really met either of her grandfathers, and she is singing this for them. I am not loving this performance, for I don't feel a real connection from her. She sounds great - she has a wonderful instrument - but it was very paint-by-numbers. Usher loved her boots, and loved her effortless performance. Shakira also loved it, and thought she has real star quality. Adam just thinks she is a Country star in the making, a true talent. Blake was so proud, and thinks she did the song beyond justice. That leaves us with just one more for tonight, as Amber Carrington will rehearse with Coach Adam as she prepares to sing "Skyfall" by Adele. That is a huge song by a singer not used to doing Pop. But first, here is Adele singing "Skyfall".

She has a cool new look, working some great hair. She delivered some seriously wonderful vocals, with great attitude and boldness. Blake loved her, but pointed out you can't hide the Country. Usher thought she was incredible. Shakira was sold on her with the high notes, which were amazing. Adam is just so proud, and thinks she is the first person on this show to do Adele justice. Carson tells us it is time to vote, so it is time for me to review the night. With only six acts making it through to next week, this means there are two acts leaving tomorrow night. I truly hope that Judith, Sasha, Michelle, Amber and the Swon Brothers are safe, for they all had strong vocals this week. Danielle was good, but I felt a bit off this week. The weakest of the evening for me was Sarah and Holly, neither truly connecting with me for their moment in the spotlight. Of course, it all hinges on who has the most votes, and which two have the least. Speaking of votes, to learn how you can place your vote, visit the official website. In brief, you can vote via a toll-free phone number, online at, with the special NBC App, or Facebook. Unlike some shows, The Voice limits the amount of votes people can place per method. You can vote 10 times per phone, or 10 times via Facebook, or 10 times via NBC App between now and 10AM Tuesday morning. The phone number is (877)553-37XX, filling in the 'XX' with the artist number. Those numbers would be Judith Hill 01, Holly Tucker 02, The Swon Brothers 03, Sasha Allen 04, Sarah Simmons 05, Michelle Chamuel 06, Danielle Bradbery 07, and Amber Carrington 08. Don't forget, your iTunes purchase also counts as a vote, if you are so inclined. There is a link to all the songs on the iTunes front page.


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