Ali Caldwell really surprised me on Monday’s live Top 12 episode of “The Voice.” The NBC show got back on it’s normal schedule this week after a manic Top 20 the week before due to the national election. Caldwell tops our power rankings for this two-hour episode, bypassing perceived frontrunners Billy Gilman, We` McDonald, and Sundance Head. Will it be enough for the young artist and her coach Miley Cyrus to win for Season 11? They are up against the teams for Alicia Keys, Blake Shelton, and Adam Levine.
Here are my Top 12 power rankings based on this episode alone. Be sure to vote in our predictions center (details below) before Tuesday’s results show as to who will be eliminated this week and who will be champion for this season.
1. Ali Caldwell (Team Miley) – “Did I Ever Love You”
If anyone didn’t know who Ali was before this week, they sure know now because Ali hands-down won the night. The timeliness of choosing a Leonard Cohen song aside, Ali gave the best performance of the night because her vocal was tender when it should have been and big when it had to be. It’s amazing that Miley is choosing her songs week to week because the ownership Ali has in taking them on is impressive.
2. We` McDonald (Team Alicia) – “Take Me to Church”
We` worked the stage like it was in her own house and as if everyone in the audience was a personal guest. The command she displayed this is a huge turn-around from what I thought was a weak moment for her last week. She’s reclaimed her position as one of the season’s major threats to win.
3. Billy Gilman (Team Adam) – “The Show Must Go On”
We all knew Billy would be a solid contestant throughout the season, but I don’t think anyone ever anticipated he would come out with a Freddie Mercury performance. Of course his voice was capable and he handled the task easily — it’s the theatricality and drama of a performance like this that was the important step forward for him to take.
4. Austin Allsup (Team Blake) – “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man”
The best moments in reality TV singing competitions are always when an artist picks a song this far outside of their standard genre and totally knocks it out of the park. Austin won me over with this performance because I thought he’d stick to traditional country throughout the competition. Austin showed off a powerful range that I don’t think he fully exposed before this week.
5. Josh Gallagher (Team Adam) – “Why”
In a classic heartthrob singer move, Josh took a stool and put it in the center of a ring of swaying audience members to begin his performance. Knowing exactly what his position is in the competition in that way is why he’s going to be successful. He’s got the female audience in his pocket and all the men wishing they had his country swagger.
6. Christian Cuevas (Team Alicia) – “The Scientist”
Because it provided an opportunity to show his incredible range, a Coldplay tune was the perfect choice for Christian this week. While he didn’t hit every note, there was an energy and honesty to his performance and the dedication to his girlfriend that made it an affecting rendition to watch.
7. Brendan Fletcher (Team Adam) – “Whipping Post”
I like what Adam said about “needing to speak in different languages to reach people musically,” and that this is what Brendan needed to do at this point. He’s absolutely right and the performance proved it. Until now I figured Brendan would be too subtle to register in the right way with a voting audience, but this provided him the space to show that he can have a bigger presence and own a concert stage.
8. Courtney Harrell (Team Blake) – “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”
Garth Brooks called Courtney “the big epiphany” of his time mentoring the artists. In many ways that’s Courtney’s greatest strength as a competitor — she has an unassuming presence about her and then explodes into huge choruses and comes alive. Aerosmith is the right kind of cover for her because it offered the chance to explode in that way while also giving the audience something they’ll easily connect to because they’re familiar with it.
9. Darby Walker (Team Miley) – “Ruby Tuesday”
She made Garth Brooks cry. She made Miley Cyrus cry. I mean this was, by far, Darby’s breakout performance — we finally got a glimpse of the personality in her artistry as well as the power of her full voice that Miley has been so supportive of all season.
10. Aaron Gibson (Team Miley) – “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”
I respect that Aaron wants to choose songs that haven’t been done on the show before, and I also like that he found one that fits his alt rock style so well. Who he is as an artist comes through and he will surely have a niche audience within the scope of the show, but in choosing such an obscure track comfortably within his own genre is a challenging way of winning over any new fans.
11. Sundance Head (Team Blake) – “My Church”
As a country artist on “The Voice,” there isn’t much room to venture out of the box, so it’s exciting to see Sundance do what he can by taking a current hit by a female artist and make it his own. The problem is that it didn’t serve his style well, leaving the performance to fall mostly flat and his voice drowned out by the backup chorus.
12. Sa’Rayah (Team Alicia) – “Livin’ on a Prayer”
I love, love, love this song choice for Sa’Rayah. There’s a nature soul, R&B vibe to what Bon Jovi does that makes this a natural fit on paper. Unfortunately, in execution a lot of that fitness is lost. The verses were lifeless and the choruses scream-heavy. But her risk-taking and confidence as an artist really shine through, which helped buoy the performance a bit.
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