On Monday’s first live show of “The Voice,” producers challenged the artists to impress audiences in real time, packing 20 live performances into two hours. Many sang back-to-back in the coach-oriented segments, and then results were announced based on Twitter and online app voting. By the end of the episode only 12 artists remained, eight of which were voted through by the audience and another four saved to remain on their team by each of the coaches. Our brand new predictions center for “The Voice” is now open (see more details below about voting on who will be eliminated from the Top 12).
That evening, our writer Denton Davidson reacted to the performances within the scope of each of the four team segments. With the artists now looking ahead to the coming weeks of live playoffs for Season 11, I rank the performances of the remaining singers as they fit in the overall field of the final dozen. By my assessment, the teams of Adam Levine and Alicia Keys are best poised for a deep run into the playoffs. Artists on the teams of Blake Shelton and Miley Cyrus will have to rebound in order to remain competitive.
1. Josh Gallagher (Team Adam) – “Colder Weather”
Josh has everything it takes to be winner of “The Voice,” not least of which is a commanding stage presence and effortless confidence about his incredible country rock voice. There’s something exciting about the potential he has to blow audiences away with each new performance that I think comes in a less expected way than some of the other artists. In a season packed with talented performers, I give Josh the lead based on that potential to excite and surprise alone.
2. Sa’Rayah (Team Alicia) – “I’d Rather Go Blind”
It’s a bold move, I think, to place Sa-Rayah this high considering she was put through not on the live public vote, but on Alicia’s save. But with her towering performance of “I’d Rather Go Blind,” I believe Sa’Rayah would have sailed through on audience support under the normal voting timeframe of a full night. In that regard, the peculiarities of last night’s show doesn’t reflect her true potential in the competition.
3. Billy Gilman (Team Adam) – “Crying”
By no means do I think Billy is a slam dunk winner like Alisan Porter and Jordan Smith were in the last two seasons. Billy is talented, he has a built-in fan base and he’s even in the ideal country genre that always does well on this show. But Billy is so unwaveringly talented that I think he’ll eventually prove less exciting to watch then some of his competition and will ultimately finish just outside of the top spot.
4. We` McDonald (Team Alicia) – “Home”
We` had an off night this week and advanced with the public vote on the strength of past performances and her shining personality. She is certainly still one of the frontrunners to win, but will have to pull together a much stronger presentation and better choice of song next week if she wants to stay at the top.
5. Sundance Head (Team Blake) – “Blue Ain’t Your Color”
Blake’s best chance at another win this season is Sundance, but the sheer number of country rock male artists this season is working against his value within the larger field. Reliable for a good performance week after week, Sundance is an easy artist to throw your support behind and certainly has a successful career ahead of him.
6. Ali Caldwell (Team Miley) – “Times Have Changed”
While I do believe that Ali benefited in this round from being on Miley’s eclectic team — she’s a more traditionalist vocalist than the rest of the team was — I think that she would have made a likely contender on any of the teams. Honestly, based on the inconsistency of her past performances, I didn’t expect her to make it through this round, but I was pleasantly surprised with her performance and think if she keeps improving that her chances of a win will only increase.
7. Christian Cuevas (Team Alicia) – “Yesterday”
By looking at iTunes sales and Twitter reactions, it’s clear that Christian is one of the show’s most popular artists, but his popularity continues to escape me. I think he has more of an appeal based on personality rather than a capacity to wow as a star performer. His song choice is spot on though, and as long as he continues to pick those right, he will continue to bring in the votes to stay.
8. Aaron Gibson (Team Miley) – “Round Here”
Aaron’s strength in the competition is that in the narrower field of 12 there are few other artists doing what he does. The more he leans into the soul and folk notes of his voice, as opposed to the full rock sound that most of the other guys employ, the more he’ll stand out in the pack and carve out his own audience on the show.
9. Courtney Harrell (Team Blake) – “It Must Have Been Love”
I disagree with Denton here in that I think Courtney was the surprise standout out of all of Team Blake’s performances Monday night. For me, her experience in the industry as a songwriter is paying off and she has a control over her material and the stage that some of the other performers are still trying to master.
10.Austin Allsup (Team Blake) – “Ain’t Living Long Like This”
Looking back on “The Voice” history, there are much better traditional country vocalists than Austin. I have a hard time believing that the voting audience will rally behind him in large enough numbers to support him as an eventual winner. His biggest hurdle will be standing out of Sundance’s shadow on Team Blake and bringing more heat to the stage than Josh.
11. Darby Walker (Team Miley) – “Those Were the Days”
Darby is an exciting artist and the type of singer that I usually rally behind in these competitions. But there’s something about the pairing of her and Miley that I don’t think caters to Darby’s best potential. Because Miley sees so much of herself in Darby, I sense that there’s too much hand-holding going on, keeping her from breaking free and doing something truly genuine and authentic to her own artistry.
12. Brendan Fletcher (Team Adam) – “To Love Somebody”
Considering how talented all five of Adam’s artists are and how well they performed this week, it’s surprising that Adam chose Brendan to advance over Simone Gundy and Riley Elmore. Brendan fills a similar space in the market that other male artists performing better already occupy. I love his voice and what he does, but there’s only so much room for a handsome rock vocalist in the competition.
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