We were wondering what Christina Aguilera would get up to now that she doesn’t have a horse in the race that is The Voice finals. Would she be content to sit back, relax and just enjoy the show? Not so much.
Although she tells Carson Daly before the performances start, “I’m excited to sit back and literally be entertained,” she follows it up with ongoing praise for Cassadee Pope and the rest of Team Blake Shelton…and at one point even refers to herself as Cassadee’s “co-coach.” Although we suspect Blake is wary of this new bandwagon rider taking partial credit for his golden contestant, he simply replies with “I love you!”
There was a lot to love as the final six perform for a spot in the semi-finals. Even those that aren’t our favorites still showcased some variety, performing both a pick from their coaches, and an individual choice.
Team Cee Lo: Nicholas David
Coach Cee Lo was out sick last week, but still submits picks for his contestants (Train frontman Pat Monahan subbed for him). Cee Lo picks Earth Wind And Fire’s “September” for soul singer Nicholas David. It goes something like, “Do you remember…when Nicholas sang pretty much this same song for the past two weeks?” There is no denying that he has a great voice, but the performance is so straight forward that it comes across a little wedding singer. A really good wedding singer, of course, but it doesn’t showcase his creativity or personality.
Luckily, Nicholas redeems himself with his pick of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. (And he dedicates it to his mom. Awww!) Taking the advice of Pat Monahan, he stays true to the melody enough to maintain the song’s sentimental integrity, but adds his own spin to keep it fresh. It’s the type of one-of-a-kind performance that keeps us tuning in to The Voice. Blake gushes, “That was magic and that was beautiful.”
Team Blake: Cassadee Pope
Blake picks Rascal Flatts‘ “Stand” for crowd favorite Cassadee Pope. She performed with the group last week, and Blake may just be subtly steering her toward the country genre (where, incidentally, she excels). She gives it a little of her pop rock edge, and has the crowd going crazy with a sea of white glow sticks. Blake and Christina (you know: her co-coaches) love it, though Adam Levine says, “I kind of want to see something more different and bizarre.”
Different it is, as Cassadee picks “I’m With You” by Avril Lavigne, her favorite song and artist. It’s interesting how much Cassadee idolizes Avril, considering her performance blows anything we’ve heard by Avril out of the water. She receives praises from all of the judges, and Adam tells her, “I think that was my favorite performance of yours.”
Team Adam: Amanda Brown
Amanda picks “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman,” and both she and her coach Adam are so excited for the Aretha Franklin classic’s Voice debut. Sure, she doesn’t really add anything unique to her performance, and there’s nothing terribly unexpected about it, but her genuine love of the song and being on stage oozes. It prompts one of those weird, maybe-he’s-on-cough-medicine praises from Cee Lo, “I love and appreciate and adore all women.” On a more sober note, Blake says, “The competitor in me wants to find something to criticize, but I can’t.”
Adam picks “Here I Go Again,” by Whitesnake for Amanda’s second performance, which is about as far on the other end of the spectrum from Aretha as one can get. That said, it’s such a smart and strategic move, because it’s hard to deny that she’s got the chops with whatever she sings. Cee Lo credits Amanda’s performance for curing what ails him, saying “This positive energy is really healing me at the moment.”
Team Blake: Terry McDermott
We’ve accepted in our hearts that Terry McDermott will not deviate from classic rock, so we’re happy to accept slightly unique versions of classic rock songs from him. Terry picks Foreigner‘s “I Want to Know What Love is,” and delivers a moving, stripped down rendition. With just Terry, the piano and a cello (or what Blake calls “that big violin thing”), we hear the rich texture in the Scottish rocker’s voice, and a heart to back up the technical strength that has brought him this far.
Blake then chooses “Stay With Me” by Rod Stewart for Terry’s second performance. It’s solid, as all of his classic rock renditions are, and exactly on point. “You’re probably the most consistent singer in all of the competition,” says Adam.
Team Cee Lo: Trevin Hunte
Cee Lo picks “Walking On Sunshine” for Trevin, and, you know what — it actually works. Sure, it’s a little goofy and campy, but kudos to the guy for venturing way outside of his comfort zone and into the world of choreographed dance. Even with all the right moves, he hits every note perfectly. However, we can’t help but suspect that Cee Lo just wanted someone to perform the song, and with Cody Belew out last week, had to default to Trevin. Still, a little Bam Bam would have gone nicely with this one.
Where Trevin really shines is in his own pick. He performs Dreamgirls number “And I am Telling You” — and Effie White is channeled right there on stage. The performance brings tears to the eyes, judges and audience to their feet, and, hopefully, voters to their cell phones. Every Broadway fan watching immediately voted for Trevin after that performance, as did anyone with ears.
Team Adam: Melanie Martinez
Not to hate on Melanie Martinez too much, but the same meek cuteness that got a chair-spin is really growing tired as we move toward the semi-finals. We need some sort of evolution or range to keep it interesting. She tries to demonstrate some diversity this evening, and succeeds…sort of. Not only can she sing somber songs with a breathy low energy, she can also sing upbeat songs with a cutesy, breathy low energy. That’s different, right? Melanie picks “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley, and what’s crazy is how Cee Lo didn’t jump on stage and show her how it’s supposed to be done. She gets lukewarm praise: Christina says, “You had a good lullaby effect.” And everyone agrees the stage is pretty.
Adam’s pick for Melanie is the upbeat “The Show” by Lenka. She performs it with a more cutesy version of her low-energy breathiness, but it’s (again) all about the stage. In fact it is as though the TV accidentally flipped to the opening credits of The New Girl, with all the handheld prop cut-outs moving across the screen, and even a fist full of red balloons for the grand finale. It’s all just too much for too little of a vocal performance. This is where Christina gets so frustrated with Melanie that she begins to sing to her what she wants. “She’s not even looking at me,” Christina says, before moving on to the other coaches (who also compliment the stage).
The Top 6 will be narrowed down to the semi-finalists Tuesday night (December 4)! Who do you think will make the cut?