The Voice Semi-Finals Recap: Which of the Top Nines got their “A” game … and which ones got their “Eh” game?
Sometimes it pays to go into an episode of The Voice with low expectations – yes, even if it’s the semifinals. After this Last week’s live playoffs featured (heard?) Numbers originally performed by Corinne Bailey Rae, Ariana Grande and the Backstreet Boys, who were massacred by those who have since retired. I – and what is that, you say? Likewise? – lowered the bar ahead of Monday’s single game. But it turned out that for the most part we didn’t need to. Read on and we’ll discuss why …
Victor Solomon (team legend), “I can only imagine” – Grade: B + | During rehearsal, Victor shared how excited his mother would be that he was finally performing a gospel song. Hmm, and right when he needs a boost to get into the finals. Coincidence? In any case, Victor sounded good at first, but not exceptional. However, he got more convincing the more spirited the number got, unleashed Charisma-Plus and ended up strong. Wouldn’t one of us have been grateful if Victor’s microphone had been turned up a bit?
Jordan Matthew Young (Team Blake), “Rose-colored glasses” – Grade: B | Ha – if you speak of calculated timing, Jordan went not only a country but also a mega-country with his semi-final number – old school, nothing less. These participants didn’t take any chances on the home stretch. Interestingly, Jordan sounded imperfect in a way that made his rendition of John Conlee’s classic seem authentic overall. Was it Jordan’s most dynamic performance? No, but it was solid, believable, and enjoyable.
Cam Anthony, Corey Ward and Kenzie Wheeler, “Fooling Around and Falling in Love” | In this 1970s styled three-way team, Cam and Corey stood out, with the former radiating casually cool even in high-waisted bell bottoms and the latter squeezing more passion out of Elvin Bishop’s golden oldie than I’d ever imagined . As for Kenzie? He sounded okay, but his little shuffle reminded me of myself when there was a really long queue for the bathroom. Pretty profitable number.
Pia Renee (team legend), “Turn your light down” – Grade: A | OK, at this point I had to take back what I said about the contestants who didn’t take any chances on Monday – Pia was gambling big and was going back to her reggae roots a week before the final. It wasn’t nearly as sure-fire a move as hardcore country or gospel. But damn it, it sounded as good as it looked – and that hair! The outfit! She looked fantastic. Ultimately, this felt less like a singer attending a talent show than a star performing at an awards ceremony. (Nick said it too, but honestly, I typed it first. No, really!)
Ian Flanigan and Blake Shelton, “Grow Up” | I have no idea about you, but I always like it when former candidates return to The Voice, if only because it’s often the only time I ever hear them again. And in this case, wow, the season 19 finisher sounded cool as hell, going from a throaty mist rising from a moonlit river to a thundering roar.
Rachel Mac (Team Nick), “Human” – Grade: C + | Interesting – Rachel rolled the dice in the semifinals and deviated from the relative safety of the highway to tackle Christina Perri’s emotional number. Unfortunately, the result was a mixed bag. On the one hand, Rachel was able to show how easily she can modulate her voice. On the other hand, she was so invested in the song that she shrugged off the tech to sound louder than I think she could have intended. (Not for nothing, but jumping up and down during a performance will seldom improve a voice.)
Corey Ward (Team Kelly), “Arcade” – Grade: C | Trying the first Eurovision Song Contest winner in 45 years to hit the Billboard Hot 100, Corey got off to a difficult start, like throwing vocal arrows that kept missing the porthole. As the song went on, the raw emotion he’s known for was front and center. But the performance felt all over the place, and not the way that “I’m so caught up in the feeling that I can’t be precise”. I have a hunch Corey will be singing again for Instant Save on Tuesday.
Dana Monique, Victor Solomon and Pia Renee, “Shining Star” | On the second three of the night, the participants harmonized wonderfully and seemed to enjoy outdoing each other. But the one who really deserved the “shining star” accolade on her 70s cover was Pia, who definitely emphasized the fire part of earth, wind & fire. She had a damn good night.
Gihanna Zoe (Team Kelly), “Reflection” – Grade: A | When Gihanna rehearsed with her trainer, Christina Aguilera’s Mulan ballad sounded like the perfect choice for her: she could be a little theatrical and really wear a belt, which does both of them extraordinarily well. On stage, the high school graduate used Kelly’s advice not to attack the song out of the gate, but to let it grow. When it happened, Gihanna was breathtaking and delivered such a massive voice that I’m surprised she didn’t shake the chandelier over her head. In another context, was anyone afraid that she would stumble if she came down the stairs in her dress?
Gihanna Zoe, Rachel Mac and Jordan Matthew Young, “Go your own way” | Ah, well, I think it would have been too much to hope that all three group numbers would go down slightly. The Fleetwood Mac classic didn’t really fit any of the contestants. I think I heard closer harmonies overhearing three different conversations at the same time. Long before they were done, I was ready for “Go Your Own Way” to just walk away.
Dana Monique (Team Nick), “Leave the door open” – Grade: B | At first I worried that Dana might play a ballad in the semifinals. After Nick saved her in the live playoffs, I thought her best bet was to get big and explosive. Then, when the self-proclaimed lover of the love performance of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak continued, I was also worried in second and third place; That was okay, but not Dana’s best hour. It lacked the energy and capital-B-capital-M-big moment that she probably should have pushed if teammate / match Rachel hadn’t had a night like this.
Cam Anthony (Team Blake), “It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday” – Class A + | My goodness. Cam can’t be beat this season. Seriously, would any other candidate have the confidence, let alone the chops, to do an a cappella intro? Absolutely captivating. And at that point, Cam was just warming up. He went on to deliver a rendition of the Boyz II men’s classic that was so great and from the heart you would have cried even if we hadn’t just got through 2020. I didn’t even want to grade him, I just wanted to applaud. It didn’t even sound like an exaggeration as Blake doubled down on his claim that Cam was a superstar. for once he just told it as it is.
Kenzie Wheeler (Team Kelly), “He stopped loving her today” – Grade: B + | “You know you’ll love this song from the first line,” remarked Kelly as Kenzie began rehearsing his MawMaw’s favorite number. And the George Jones classic was just right for him. Nothing we’ve never heard of him before, but that was probably wise – when it comes down to it, do what you do best, right? Even so, Kenzie’s performance felt a bit uneven. When it was “on” it was properly on, but when it was off it was like, “Wait, did that sound right?” Still, he’ll probably go straight to the final.
So who do you think is a blow to get into the finals? And who do you think is threatened with leaving on Tuesday? Vote in the polls below, then click on the comments.