On the second night of the Season 12 live playoffs Tuesday evening for “The Voice,” the 12 artists of Team Gwen Stefani and Team Adam Levine took the stage for their first live performances of the year. As was the case Monday night with Team Blake Shelton and Team Alicia Keys, the two artists from each team with the most public votes would automatically advance to the Top 12. At that point the coach would select one artist from their remaining four to join them, leaving the other three eliminated from the competition.
Last week the final five of each team was determined in the knockout round, so to fill out their teams with 6 artists each coach selected one contender removed at any point earlier in the season to return to compete this week. Gwen’s choice was Johnny Gates, one of her losing artists in the knockouts. Though Johnny gave a great performance, he was sent home for the second time while Hunter Plake and Brennley Brown advanced based on the public vote. Gwen’s third artist to advance to the Top 12 was her choice, and that’s Troy Ramey because of the growth he’s already shown. That means JChosen and Quizz Swanigan are also going home at this point.
Here are my rankings for Tuesday’s performances on Team Gwen, from best to worst. And here are our rankings from Monday for Team Alicia Keys and Team Blake Shelton, plus Tuesday’s rankings for Team Adam Levine.
1. Hunter Plake – “Elastic Heart”
It was announced tonight that Hunter became the first “Voice” artist to have two songs chart within the top 30 on iTunes twice before the live shows even started. In that regard, Hunter was entering the live playoffs as a clear frontrunner, not just on Team Gwen but series-wide. Sia is an artist that’s covered often on the show even though she’s also one of the hardest because her voice is so unique. But Hunter truly breathed new life into the song, performing a fragile and understated version that not only pleased his already large fan base but probably won over more listeners, too.
2. Troy Ramey – “A Case of You”
Gwen really pushed Troy this week, giving him a delicate Joni Mitchell track that forced him to display a falsetto that he admittedly brings out only rarely. The choice to have Troy on a stool, center stage with a guitar and a mic was so smart and really drove home the personal emotional connection he had to the song while also drawing the audience in.
3. Johnny Gates – “Hands to Myself”
For the third week in a row Johnny took a popular female pop vocal and twisted it into a male rock song, but I think that this cover of the Selena Gomez slow jam was his most successful attempt of all of them. It’s this creativity in song choice that Johnny brings to the competition that no one else really does, but aside from that he also has a really fresh rock sound and amiable demeanor that is a joy to listen to and watch. Had Johnny competed on a different team I think he might have advanced, but the caliber of Team Gwen meant that there just wasn’t enough room for him in the Top 12.
4. Brennley Brown – “Fly”
The goal Gwen set for Brennley on this performance was to tap into the emotional core of the Maddie & Tae country ballad. As expected, Brennley did just that and I think she reached the segment of the audience that she aspires to reach in her career. That being said, I don’t think this was the type of performance that wins over any new fans and so she may be at a slight disadvantage to some of the more well-rounded artists as she heads to the Top 12 next week on the strength of the audience vote.
5. Quizz Swanigan – “My Girl”
I don’t think Quizz has been better this entire season than he was tonight. He exuded a confidence and had control over the stage that made him feel like a true artist for the first time. The Temptations track Alicia chose for him was obviously fitting, but perhaps too expected. I loved having the chance to see Quizz perform one last time because he’s an exciting talent, but give him a few more years of experience under his belt and he’ll a real force to be reckoned with.
6. JChosen – “Nothing Compares 2 U”
There’s no task quite like taking on a popular song by an artist as well-known as Prince, and JChosen was admittedly intimidated by the prospect of it. Though his performance is commendable, it lacked the pure magic and vulnerability that both the Prince and Sinead O’Connor versions had. Look, Gwen set the bar really high for JChosen, but it was also an opportunity for him to have a huge moment and unfortunately he just didn’t rise to the occasion this time.