This is it! No more coach saves. The artists have to appeal completely to us, the audience. It is all up to us, America. Please don’t let me down! To review how we got to this point, check out my previous blog entries!
I’ve been looking forward to the joy and wonder that is Garth Brooks. After this week we’ve all had, let us listen to some great music and all give out a hearty Garth Brooks! To me, Garth is to country what the Beatles were to rock and roll/pop. Like the Beatles, he honors, understands, appreciates, and loves other genres. He’s performed pop and taken some rock and roll songs and made them his country own, like Billy Joel’s Shameless. Clearly, as we watch him coach the top 12 and direct the band on what to do to best support the artist, we see that GARTH BROOKS KNOWS HIS SHIT. On top of being clearly an amazing musical arranger, Garth is at times as emotional in his coaching as he is in his singing. He is probably a really crappy poker player, because at least when it comes to music and/or his girls, his feelings are on his face. It was REALLY obvious when he talked to We in her high soprano speaking voice, then heard her deep singing voice. His face was definitely “oh shit.. What the hell?” I loved that moment and frankly I love him.
As for the coaches themselves, there isn’t much more I can say about them that I haven’t already said. Now that they have no real decision making powers in who stays and who goes, they can really be positive about someone on another team. I REALLY appreciated Alicia’s comments about Ali Caldwell after her performance. She was a bit emotional about her, and Ali is not on her team. Ali killed it and it was really kismet that Ali performed a Leonard Cohen song on the week he died, and performed it so well.
THE PERFORMANCES – STAGE SETTING AND OUTFITS
You know how on Top Chef they are always big on plating because we “eat with our eyes first”? Well, I contend we also listen with our eyes as well, and that means wardrobe and staging are very important. It doesn’t mean that everything has to be flashy, as some songs just call for one spotlight, the artist and a microphone. Sure, the artists always had access to wardrobe once past the Blinds, but this week either the coaches or the stylists have really worked on some of them and they look great! I LOVE We with long hair! However, no one is inauthentic. No one looks uncomfortable. In fact, I think the makeover added to We’s confidence.
The stage is now expanded compared to the previous rounds, and they have these HUGE digital screens behind the artists (think the Olympic Opening and Closing ceremonies, only not on the floor). Steps and additional backgrounds for each performance are available as needed. They really were top notch this week. I’ve been to professional concerts that look amateur in comparison. (Sorry, Rascal Flatts) I loved the psychedelic flowers on the screen behind Darby while she was singing “Ruby Tuesday”. We’s “Take Me to Church” was like the best televangelist set you ever saw, only classy!
Some of the artists may have suffered from a bit of nerves now that the show has transitioned to being live and America votes. Christian and Sundance were technically perfect, but neither had me tugged by my heart, or experiencing goosebumps. Where are the guys who grab me (in a good way)?
Team Blake: Billy Gilman Song: The Show Must Go On
There are people who pick Queen who shouldn’t. Billy is not one of them. When Garth first saw him, he said “Miss Yearwood is going to be tickled”. Trisha isn’t the only one. This felt like a great Broadway production. This is very much a compliment from me as I’m a minor musical theater geek. This was a game changer moment for Billy.
Team Blake: Austin Allsup Song: Do Right Woman, Do Right Man
To quote Garth, Austin picked a song of Aretha Franklin’s,” the greatest female voice ever, and you are doing it justice”. I completely agree. Afterward, Blake referred to a new generation of Outlaw Country forming, and that he’d be damned if any of them can sing like Austin. Brilliant comment by seasoned Coach Blake. He knows his country audience, and he just found a way of differentiating between Sundance and Austin. For the uninitiated, Outlaw Country is populated by Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and yes, that fucking asshat, Hank Williams, Jr. who I can’t stand. I notice that both Monday and Tuesday Austin wore black on stage.
Team Blake: Courtney Harrell Song: I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing
Brave choice in song, an it worked. Even if I had skipped over the Garth session, I would know she was singing this to someone real, to someone she loves. I thought I would miss that cigarette and whiskey Rock and Roll sound of Steven Tyler, but the purity of her voice fit this song perfectly. A song from a silly ‘the Earth is in danger’ disaster movie that makes me cry every time and this was no different. She could be the ultimate winner.
MY FAILED TO IMPRESS
The differences this week are so subtle I don’t want to call out one specific artist and nitpick everything like I did for my favorites. Perhaps I should change this category to “failed to be memorable the next day”. I was surprised that I was indifferent to Sundance Head. Sa’Rayah was bold and smart in her song choice of Living on a Prayer; however, there was a bit of stiffness in her body language that was distracting. Aaron Gibson was my least favorite. It is one thing to show us your lesser known style of alt rock and another thing to pick a totally unknown song. Combine them together? It could be the kiss of death. Does he really think that the extreme Alt Rock people watch The Voice regularly?
Before I go into who was on the bottom, I DO encourage you to at least check out the non-competition performances. Team Adam’s rendition of “For What It’s Worth” by Stephen Stills (one of the most recognizable protest songs of the 60s) was simply lovely. I’ve questioned Alicia’s rookie coaching skills, but “Holy War” from her new album proves why she deserves every accolade and award she’s ever been given.
But my favorite? Team Miley. I’m sure many would disagree with me, because I am picking it for personal reasons. But I’m the blogger, so suck it. She and her team sang There’ll Always Be Music by Dolly Parton, and their outfits and and the set might have been stolen right out of Dolly’s storage at Dollywood. Miley continues to impress, and Ali held her own beautifully. It was great, but I’m starting to get tired of Darby, and Aaron looked VERY uncomfortable. Suck it up, Aaron. Dolly Parton is one of our greatest living songwriters. You should feel privileged that you are playing a rhinestoned guitar like Dolly’s, singing one of her many songs, while on her goddaughter’s team.
Before this season when I was not blogging, I sometimes skipped the elimination show. Especially after the FUCKING TWITTER SAVE WAS INTRODUCED. It is unfair to the West Coasters (and some of the Central/Mountain timers). When I got the alert that the show had started and started to read the tweets on who was saved, it was 5 PM and I was still at work. When the “twitter save” was opened, I was on my commute home. Basically, I have to choose to either spoil the results or not have the opportunity to vote. It sucks.
It is also unfair to the artists. The bottom two perform a new song each. I retweeted to save Sa’Rayah based on last night. Then I watch 3 hours later, and I see that she choked, and Aaron pulled his shit together. I’m voting without all the information I need. It worked out this time, as Aaron was saved, while Sa’Rayah went home. Slightly sweet revenge for Michael, one of Tamara and my favorites (we do agree on some things!)