Thoughts On The Voice: Top 8 + Last Week’s Results

June 21, 2011

Woohoo! By the end of this show the Top 8 will have performed. This show does not waste time! Carson Daly takes the stage dressed about as well as your garden variety NBA rookie in that bland brown suit and proceeds to blah blah his way through the opener. What a tool. On to the eliminations!

Team Cee-Lo Eliminations

Vicci Martinez takes the popular vote and the women continue to bring in the wins! This is also indicative this show’s audience tastes – so far they support actual talent. Seriously, as far as the popular vote-getters have gone, I have had no problems. Cee Lo then gives his vote to Nakia, who despite kind of flubbing last week’s performance and having that “Chosen One” distinction (he’s in so many of the promos,) is still a solid singer and different enough from they typical music competition show contestant. I’m quite happy to wave goodbye to Curtis “flat like a pancake” Grimes and the Tori and Taylor Terror Teen Show.

Team Adam Eliminations

Javier Colon takes the popular vote. Javier has a crazy melodic voice and doesn’t annoy me with his instrument abilities, so it’s fair that he takes the win. Then Casey takes Adam’s vote and spares me the displeasure of having to hear Dr. Dumpy Barley or Jeff Jenkins aka Mr. Amateur Vocal Range. She has that Haley Reinhart fighting spirit and limited vocal quality, but like Haley late into Idol’s run, she knows how to push her bluesy wail to its limits (and doesn’t have the mugging tendencies.) Also, we have a Top 8 where 75% of the contestants are women, one guy is openly gay, and one guy is of color. Could we have a diverse anti-Idol finals?

Frenchie Davis – “Like A Prayer”

Frankly I was disappointed by this performance. Frenchie is a damn good singer and can belt with the best of them, so when she fails to distinguish herself from the backup singers or lets them cover the chorus while she snaps her fingers, the overall experience feels phoned in. The two power note moments towards the end were good, but they felt tacked on. I would have preferred more energy throughout the performance to a few moments of vocal pyrotechnics.

Nakia – “Whattaya Want From Me”

Nakia is back in business! His big cannon moment fell a little short, but otherwise his gruff wail was on key, he had tons of energy, and you could sense that he was really trying. His sense of showmanship from last week continued as well, so this performance was the total package. Unless the other contestants pull out the stops, he might have earned the “Chosen One” spot.

Dia Frampton – “Losing My Religion”

While Dia’s take on the R.E.M. classic doesn’t take as many risks as her “Heartless” cover, she still knocks this out with her signature singing style. It’s soft and emotional, but there’s also just a hint of power and edginess that could make her hot with the indie set. She really let the power build in the performance, and it was a home run!

Casey Weston – “I Will Always Love You”

Ouch. You know that unless Casey did something original like freaky Bjork-esque beatboxing or throat singing or a pop punk cover a la New Found Glory, she was not going to live up to expectations. Even if she sang this song well, under the current arrangement this song is too damn pageanty. That her held notes couldn’t have been shakier if she was singing on the San Andreas fault was just icing on the fail cake. [Also, stop hitting on the contestants, Blake Shelton. You’re married and how old is she? It’s creepy!]

Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera – “Moves Like Jagger”

This is pretty cool. It has the upbeat pacing of MJ’s “P.Y.T.,” James Brown’s “Super Bad,” or Maroon 5’s own “Little Of Your Time.” The instrumentation is tight and Adam’s high tenor/falsetto shows how he earned his spot on the judging panel. When Xtina shows up for the bridge, her power vocals seem a little underwhelming. It’s a shame because Christina has demonstrated that she can kick ass on her more uptempo songs like “Ain’t No Other Man.” Overall the song felt a little too cold for me, but it was still catchy and fun.

Beverly McClellan – “The Thrill Is Gone”

Beverly’s vocals were a bit too mush-mouthed and she still has awkward Celine Dion stage moves. Otherwise, she kicked ass! Beverly’s smoky voice fits this song like a glove as it is, but when she began to break out the Little Richard WOOOOOOO!’s and Robert Plant growls, hot damn she was good! Her performance was dynamic, varied, energetic, and executed like a pro.

Javier Colon – “Fix You”

ZZZZZZZZZZ (or: Fuck Coldplay!) Javier is one of the best singers in the top 8 and he ably demonstrates this towards the end of the performance when he goes on a bunch of these little vocal runs. Between those and his soaring belts towards the beginning, Javier shows he’s no slouch (and gives mopey old Chris Martin a run for his money). It’s too bad that when the arrangement got lively and the rock instrumentation kicked in, Javier suddenly got off key and overwhelmed. It took on a shouty amateur quality, which just killed the middle. Can Javier carry a tune when the instrumentation is full, or is he a more competent version of Thia Megia?

Blake Shelton ft. Dia Frampton and Xenia – “Honeybee”

For the hundredth time, I’m largely ignorant of country music, so I can’t grade Blake on execution, but he seems to sing decently for a male mainstream country performer (he even nails the big belty finish.) The arrangement is similarly competent, so good for the band. When Dia and Xenia come out to join Blake for the final chorus they pretty much follow Blake’s vocal, which is good since their entrances were kind of awkward (particularly Xenia’s.)

Xenia – “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved”

Xenia makes a few improvements from awkward effort two weeks ago. She’s projecting her voice more. She’s conveying more emotion in her face and body language. She’s also styled a lot better. However, she still needs to develop a stage presence. Her low, slightly gravelly voice was buried in the mix and she looked almost as unsure as she did for “Price Tag.” To her credit, she can handle herself much better in ballady songs like this, so maybe she’s working out her niche. I still feel as though she can’t hold a candle to her competition. She’s still in her teens, so she might be up for kicking ass in a few years.

Vicci Martinez – “Dog Days”

First off, that drumline setup was pretty cool. You don’t see that a lot on shows like these, especially when the contestants join in the drumming. It may have slightly hampered Vicci’s singing, which was a bit pitchy at times. However, fuck that was passionate! When the song peaked, she was belting and jumping and running around like Andrew W.K. on cocaine. Vicci sang competently, and not as good as last week, but she made up for it with her knack for the spectacle.

Next week is the final four competition so things are wrapping up pretty quickly. As much as I like The Voice’s brevity and fast turnaround time, Kathy brought up a good point that many contestants don’t get the chance to really develop new skills or work out performance tics. This is maybe the one redeeming factor of the crucible that is American Idol. Notice that the contestants that have been raking in the wins often have performance experience, so they’re good to go (Javier, Dia, Frenchie, Vicci.) Lately I haven’t been feeling too patient, so I appreciate that contestants who have their acts together have been scoring votes. I’m just glad that the coaches have been forcing the contestants to take risks to varying results.

Top 3

  1. Dia Frampton
  2. Beverly McClellan
  3. Nakia

Bottom 3

  1. Casey Weston
  2. Xenia
  3. Javier Colon

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