It was so cute the way Carson Daly kept trying to tie voting on The Voice into voting for our commander-in-chief, state representatives, and a whole slew of proposals as though the two carry the same weight and require the same amount of thought. However, the comparison was just too readily available to pass up, so I understand the eagerness to be topical. It was also downright delightful to see Daly appear to be enjoying his hosting duties for once, channeling an enthusiasm that didn’t seem forced, bantering with contestants and judges alike, handing out sincere-sounding compliments, and saving the “I-hate-everyone” face for when Blake Shelton shoved his finger into his cheek like a five-year-old during his closing shpeal, at which point the “I-hate-everyone” face was entirely appropriate.
By the end of this week’s live rounds (which will suck up airtime across three nights because NBC is determined to drive this gravy train straight into the ground), the twenty remaining contestants will be cut down to twelve through America’s voting and the judge’s last-minute saves.
Here’s how last night's performances stacked up, ranked according to my own preference just to keep it real:
5. Bryan Keith - “Iris”
There is an ongoing feud in my apartment regarding Keith. My co-pilot is convinced that Keith is the worst musician to grace the stage and the epitome of overrated. I think Keith is pretty awesome. However, I will readily admit that his take on the Goo Goo Dolls’ tune was my least favorite of his performances so far. It just felt flat, like he was going through the motions. Blake said Keith reminded him of Neil Diamond. Say what?
4. Joselyn Rivera - “Give Your Heart a Break”
Rivera’s take on the Demi Lovato song was solid, but largely unmemorable. In her rehearsal montage she fretted about singing and moving at the same time, but in the end, she was fine. It was all fine. And that’s the problem. “Fine” can only get you so far.
3. Melanie Martinez - “Hit the Road, Jack”
I was thrilled that Melanie broke with her usual formula of taking Top 40 tunes and refashioning them into coffee-house background noise and her Ray Charles cover was energetic and awesome. AWESOME, I SAY. The only reason she isn’t ranked higher is that, well, the next two performances were simply MORE awesome. Carson Daly said, “You are so much cuter than Ray Charles, that was wonderful,” and it sounded like he meant it. It was the highlight of the banter for me and a nice change from the insincere smoke-blowing that tends to dominate the live rounds.
2. Loren Allred - “All Around the World”
I keep finding myself rooting for Loren Allred because she has everything working against her in this competition, but still continues to push through. She was an unfortunate denizen of Montage Mountain during the blind auditions, and then she was paired with powerhouse Nicole Nelson during the knockout rounds. She’s like the Little Engine That Could, except, like, hot. Her take on the Lisa Stransfield song was fantastic.
1. Amanda Brown - “Dream On”
I had my doubts when it was announced that itty bitty pop singer Amanda Brown would be performing an Aerosmith song. I underestimated her versatility and I am SO SORRY. I love when I’m wrong about awesome things. “You obliterated the notion that you could only do one thing,” proclaimed Coach Adam.
5. Cassadee Pope - “My Happy Ending”
Okay, look, Pope’s Avril Lavigne cover wasn’t bad. Not at all. She just seemed so bored and honestly, so was I. I’m sick of listening to her sing the same thing all the time and she's sick of doing so, telling Coach Blake that she wanted people to see her as more than a pop-rock girl. He encouraged her to stay in her cozy little mold and she listened because as we saw with Gracia Harrison, the last time someone on Team Blake tried to be different, they went home.
4. Michaela Paige - “Everybody Talks”
Cee Lo declared this performance the “best all night” and I suspect that his wig may have been on a little too tight. I thought there was too much bouncing around, which made Paige sound shaky. I was distracted by the Christina Aguilera fashion cues. It was still a fun and energetic performance, though.
3. Liz Davis - “Independence Day”
Davis hopped off her Miranda Lambert suck-up train to cover a Martina McBride song. It was a refreshing change, but not TOO refreshing because Davis is the “only country artist left” in the competition and we have to be reminded of that every single time she performs. Remember, on Team Blake, it’s not about growing as an artist. Its about knowing your place and liking it. With that said, it was a good cover. Christina said that it was an “appropriate” song to sing on election eve. I don’t think this song is about what she thinks it’s about.
2. Julio Cesar Castillo - “El Rey”
Julio Castillo’s mariachi cover was great. Blake advised him to make use of body language and facial expression to communicate the meaning of the song, since the whole thing was in Spanish and a good chunk of the voting public probably wouldn’t understand it, and his advice worked well. HOWEVER: Admirable performance aside, did anyone stop to think about the potential effect of the song choice on voting? Choosing the “right” song is half the battle and I’m fully aware that I’m a cynical bastard when it comes to reality TV, but I just don’t think that a lot of The Voice’s audience, let alone the faction of that audience that cares enough to vote, is running around with mariachi tunes on their iPods.
1. Terry McDermott - “Don’t Stop Believing”
Again, song choice is half the battle and please, oh please, raise your hand if you are SICK of this particular Journey tune. THANK YOU. For the love of all that is sacred, can someone PLEASE pull it out of the rotation for a few seasons of EVERYTHING? There are so many freaking covers of “Don’t Stop Believing” out there (Glee, Rock of Ages, etc.) and they all sound pretty much the same so just stop it. I beg of you. Terry McDermott’s performance was near perfect in its execution, but seriously, how many Journey covers does iTunes need?
1. How would you rank Monday’s performances?
2. Who are you looking forward to seeing from Teams Cee Lo and Christina on Wednesday?
3. How long until Carson Daly starts snapping at the judges and looking freaking miserable?