This week is going to be brutal. Half of these talented artists are going home, after getting so close to the finals. Chances are, someone you like is going home. Winning would be great, but if you just make it to the finals you are getting a boost to your career. Look at Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert as examples (yes, I know they were on “the other show”). I honestly do not believe that if they had won their seasons that they could have taken some of the amazing career paths they are on. Past finalists are making their livings now, as musicians.
I am NOT one of the people who was surprised that Miley is a good coach. I might not have been wild about some of the song choices, etc. of her artists, but I could see growth in every single one of them. I was initially surprised on how weak Alicia was, at least in her Blind pitches (not that it stopped people from picking her). She has gotten better. When I first heard that she was returning for next season, I was kind of “meh” about it. Now I am looking forward to seeing HER growth as a coach, and after having a fun dynamic with Miley, seeing how she interacts with Gwen!
To be honest, I thought a couple of the song choices were weird. As a seasoned Couch Coach, I have some advice to the artists. Some songs were too similar to what they’ve been singing. The people want some variety, to know that you have a wide skill set! They want something somewhat familiar, and if it is something not widely known, you better ROCK it. You have the backup band, an incredible stage and stagehands, and special effects at your disposal. Use it! If you are not mainstream, you better get cozy with mainstream at least.
For the semi final, each artist had a “competition” song solo and then there were four duets. The artists were not paired up with someone from their own team. The solo song choices were, in order of performance: Christian Cuevas – To Worship You I Live (Away); Ali Caldwell – I Will Always Love You; Brendan Fletcher – Angel; Wé McDonald – Scars to Your Beautiful; Aaron Gibson – (Everything I Do) I Do It for You; Josh Gallagher – Danny’s Song; Sundance Head – Love Can Build a Bridge; and Billy Gilman – I Surrender. The duets were Aaron Gibson and Wé McDonald – Four Five Seconds; Josh Gallagher and Sundance Head – Feelin’ Alright?; Christian Cuevas and Billy Gilman – Unsteady; and Ali Caldwell and Brendan Fletcher – It’s Only Love.
Supposedly the solo are the “competition” part of the night, while the duets are simply for our enjoyment (aka time fillers). I know I judged them on their ability to sing with another person, or whether or not they were intimidated by their duet partner after getting to know them after so many weeks together. In general, I felt Christian was weak against Billy, and unsure of himself. While We’s solo performance was one of my “middles” – neither a favorite nor a failed to impress, I thought she did well with Aaron. Aaron too, but his sudden attempts to appeal to the mainstream this week won’t save him, in my opinion. Sundance and Josh were dead even, a great duet, and whomever picked a Joe Cocker song for the two of them deserves some extra kudos! Fantastic choice!
MY TOP THREE
#3 Team Adam: Josh Gallagher Song: Danny’s Song
This was simply lovely. Josh just continues to improve and he looks more and more comfortable on the stage. It was also a brilliant choice, performance wise. Josh has been working the stage in past performances, and it was smart to change things up a little and have him sit, center stage, and playing his guitar.
#2 Team Blake: Sundance Head Song: Love Can Build a Bridge
Honestly, when I looked up what the artists’ songs were for this week, I was a little nervous for Sundance. This song is clearly the Judds, and so much of its beauty is the harmony of their duet. Sundance killed it. Kept it ‘mainstream’ as I mentioned, no weird arrangement, but made it his own.
#1 Team Miley: Ali Caldwell Song: I Will Always Love You
I loved everything about this. I loved hearing both Ali and Miley’s thought process during the practice. I love that Miley alluded to the history of the song, and what inspired it (I wish there had been more of that actually.) I loved the strings in the background, I loved her dress, and I loved the fireworks. Just a fantastic blend of both Whitney and Dolly, making it completely Ali’s version. She hit every note, but more importantly, she kept the emotion throughout the song.
FAILED TO IMPRESS
Team Alicia: Christian Cuevas Song: To Worship You I Live (Away)
Christian totally went, well, Christian, and picked a gospel song. I think if Christian Cuevas wanted to do something religious, he needed to pick something a little more upbeat or uplifting, not something he would pick for his church choir to sing the week before Easter because you want to really save the good stuff for Easter Sunday. Christian has always been good in the past because he was so emotional. For an artist that is walking a fine line. The closer you get to it the better, but go over the line the performance is weakened. I also sensed a shakiness in his duet with Billy.
Team Miley: Aaron Gibson Song: (Everything I Do) I Do It for You
When I heard this song choice, I thought PERFECT CHOICE! But two things. One, it was a little too late to finally figure out that he should have been unearthing these kind of songs all this time. Those songs we forgot we love and are comfortably familiar enough for us lay persons to judge. Two, he might have been a little off key and off tempo at times. It felt too slow, and that is saying something when it comes to Bryan Adams and in particular this song of his!
Before I spoil the results, the Elimination episode is worth checking out One Republic, Hannah Huston, and Blake Shelton all performed. Hannah was a finalist two seasons ago, and is debuting an album. Blake is just yummy any time he’s on stage. The artists also got a tour of the set of tomorrow’s live Hairspray production (anyone watching?) and a chance to ask Jennifer Hudson a few questions. I didn’t know she was a coach on The Voice UK. Might have to find some of that on YouTube!
On to the eliminations. Of course Sundance and Billy are moving on to the Finals. There was absolutely no question about it. But while We’s choreography was interesting, I thought it was a bad song choice in that it really didn’t have a big hook and it wasn’t familiar. I looked it up, and it was released by a Canadian singer I’ve never heard of a year ago. With that outfit and staging, she should have picked a Janet Jackson song. To my surprise, We was cleared to move on right away. In my mind, she took Ali’s place. Ali gave a more solid performance both in her solo and her duet. I felt certain that Ali would be in the top four.
So, Billy, Sundance, and We were solidly safe. Aaron and Brendan were definitely eliminated, which left Christian, Josh, and Ali to battle it out for the Twitter Instant Save. Before I go on to their last performances, I have to add a comment about Brendan. I enjoyed his performances, but honestly, the guy didn’t have a huge range. His songs and stage work were all similar when I thought about it. The most I’ve seen him move for the past several weeks was in his duet with Ali. I think that was the first time I’ve seen him change facial expression during a performance. So I am not surprised he didn’t even get the chance to save himself.
Christian’s I Can’t Make You Love Me was terribly shaky. Either his nerves simply got the best of him or he didn’t practice this like he should have. Ali gave a solid performance of Sledgehammer, although I have noticed people don’t have the best of luck with 80s tunes. My test group is pretty small, mainly consisting of my parents who clearly didn’t pay much attention to my 80s jams in high school. They didn’t care for it. Josh was stellar. I didn’t recognize the song, but it didn’t matter. He was comfortable and totally in the moment. If he had nerves, they didn’t show. So, obviously, he is moving on to the finals next week. Should be interesting as Adam and Blake each have a country artist, which I think has been Adam’s dream for a while!