‘The Voice’ Top 10 rankings: Which artist surprises as the best of Monday’s singers?

On Monday night the Top 10 artists remaining on Season 12 of “The Voice” took the stage with special dedications to their mothers in celebration of Mother’s Day. The singers left their hearts on the stage and for good reason — this week two artists will be eliminated, leaving only eight to compete next week in the semi-finals. Veteran coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton both entered the night with three artists each while Alicia Keys and Gwen Stefani each only have two left. Viewers at home will have until noon on Tuesday (ET) to vote for their favorite and any artist with their performance within the top 10 of the iTunes singles chart at that time will earn a 5x vote multiplier bonus. Below are my rankings of Monday’s ten performances, from top to bottom, beginning with the a surprising best of the night from Team Blake. Let us know if you agree or disagree in the comments section. And be sure to make your predictions of who will be eliminated from Season 12 next (see rules below).

1. TSoul (Team Blake) – “At This Moment”
I don’t think anyone, besides maybe his mom, was expecting TSoul to give us the best performance of the evening. But from the very first note it was clear that that’s the direction he was heading in. This was by far the night’s most raw performance and the first real breakthrough moment any of the artists have had. TSoul has kind of been riding near the bottom of the pack in our overall racetrack odds, but tonight should help him find a new spot closer to the top. Like Blake said, I think he earned his spot in the semi-finals.

2. Chris Blue (Team Alicia) – “24K Magic”
Last week in my power rankings I said Chris had become predictable and was in a danger of plateauing because of it. This week it’s as if he heard my call because he stepped away from the soul ballads and put on the type of concert that would make sense for him in today’s market. Chris will always bring his showmanship to the table and his ability to work the stage is unparalleled in this competition. But by far the most impressive thing about this performance is that this particular Bruno Mars song is so specifically Bruno Mars that it’s unbelievable that Chris actually succeeded in making it his own.

3. Hunter Plake (Team Gwen) – “Higher Love”
It’s at the point where I legitimately think Hunter is incapable of having a bad week. I like that this time he settled into the more gentle, tender aspects of the song for a majority of the performance because it provided an intimacy that some of his past performances lacked. Hunter is probably safely advancing to the next round, but I think to win he’ll need to step outside the box next week and do something completely unexpected.

4. Lauren Duski (Team Blake) – “Tell Me Why”
It’s been a long time coming for Lauren to move away from the ballads that have served her so well in the competition and while I haven’t always been sold on her other performances, I mostly enjoyed this one! It wasn’t her best vocal ever, but I think she gets a lot of points for proving that she can switch up the tempo and step out of her comfort zone. I feel like for the first time we got a glimpse of what the up beat parts of a Lauren Duski album might sound like.

5. Brennley Brown (Team Gwen) – “Anyway”
Brennley clearly wanted to have a moment this week taking on a huge ballad like this and though there were parts that worked I think the song was too big and perhaps too mature to feel as authentic as it should have. Brennley will remain one of the frontrunners of the season — I don’t think she was bad by any means — but as a fan of hers I hope she got something out of her system in taking this on and can return next week with something more humble and manageable.

6. Jesse Larson (Team Adam) – “Jungle Love”
Adam’s plan for Jesse this week was to keep him in his element, showing his talent as a musician and ability to sing anything. In a reversal of his muted performance last week, Jesse brought the high energy we’d expect from a funk song. I think Jesse showed more charisma and confidence than he has all season and it couldn’t have come at a better time for him. The guitar solo and breakaway from the mic at the end really sold the whole thing and the audience and coaches ate it up.

7. Aliyah Moulden (Team Blake) – “Jealous”
Putting aside the performance for a second, it has to be said that the courage Aliyah showed at her age taking on a song that is so deeply connected to a painful part of her life is incredible. The vulnerability she displayed is something seasoned artists spend their whole career reaching for so I think she’ll always look back on it as a defining moment of her own career. It was nice to see her finally take on a ballad after a string of up tempo tracks the last few weeks because it put the strength and depth of her voice front and center. With two going home this week I do think Aliyah has reason to be worried, but I think she did enough in this performance to justify her advancing.

8. Lilli Passero (Team Adam) – “Unforgettable”
My jaw dropped when the show announced that Lilli was going to perform this song. I mean, what?! The bar was set so incredibly high for Lilli because of this song choice because every note is instantly recognizable to the audience. That being said, I think she did as well as she could have. Last week I think she surprised people by proving that traditional pop has relevancy today, but this week, though I think she did a decent job, I don’t think she did herself any favors in terms of making something so classic feel current.

9. Vanessa Ferguson (Team Alicia) – “Doo Wop (That Thing)”
Proving once again just how versatile of an artist she is, Vanessa brought a rap-sung Lauryn Hill track to the stage, dividing her performance between the song’s smooth chorus and the quick-paced rap verses. It doesn’t have to be said that she’s the only artist that season that could pull something so tricky off, but I’ll take it one step further — I think she’s the only artist this season that would. Vanessa is a risk-taker in the truest sense and while the performance may not resonate with enough people to vote her through to the next round, I think it was genuine to the type of artist that Vanessa is and wants to continue to become.

10. Mark Isaiah (Team Adam) – “Sign of the Times”
It was nice to see Mark step away from his R&B and hip hop comfort zone and take on something with a rock tinge. I think it was a smart song choice, but the execution left a lot to be desired. It’s a shame that the breathier, high-pitched parts were so off because take them away and he actually had decent control over the song otherwise and the richness of his deeper register really came through. But taking it all in together, this might have been one of Mark’s worst so he’ll have to do a full rebound tomorrow night to earn his third instant save in a row.

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