Katrina Parker Recaps All That Went Down In 'The Voice' Playoffs
Ah, The Voice Playoffs - the last hurdle between the top 16 and the Live rounds. Let’s have an iced tea (southern style) and talk about this week’s episodes. Pull up a rocking chair, because you’ll need it.
This Girl Is On Fire. The performance that energized me the most this week was Sasha Allen. This woman has definitely hit her stride, topping last week’s stellar Knockout performance with Tuesday’s fiery take on “Oh Darling.” She attacked that song with a passion unmatched by anyone else this week, fully owning the stage as a singer, as a performer and as someone who can wear black leather REALLY well.
Carson’s Hair Journey.Carson Daly’s hair took a turn Monday night - looking a lot more *ahem* “buoyant” than his usual do. Tuesday was an improvement, but it makes you wonder if the drama isn’t all about the contestants this season. Maybe Carson’s hair will take an epic journey of its own - transforming and surprising us every week. I can’t wait.
Less Is More: Quiet moments ruled the roost Monday night as Amber Carrington, Sarah Simmons and Michelle Chamuel did lovely, bare bones performances that carried more weight than some of the bigger numbers in the lineup. I kind of adore this trend.
Who’s Fired Up? Team Usher – that’s who. Usher put his unconventional coaching techniques back to work, taking his team to a boxing ring to train for their group performance of “Black and Gold.” I don’t know what was more adorable – the matching red shoes, the Team Usher sweatshirts or Michelle’s reaction when someone threw a weighted ball her way.
Divalicious. When Judith Hill’s song was announced, I got chills (knowing it would be something special). Despite the vocal difficulties she referenced, she pulled off a triumphant interpretation of “Feeling Good,” giving it a spin that was wholly her own and milking each dramatic pause for all it was worth. Blake Shelton called it correctly when he labeled her a diva. Judith is not going anywhere anytime soon, folks.
Banjo Alert. Spotted – one banjo during Team Blake’s performance of “Boondocks” – pretty refreshing after a segment featuring awkward team bonding via awkward karaoke.
Country Innuendo: When The Swon Brothers asked if he’d ever gone fishing in the dark, Usher responded by saying “sometimes, in other ways…” Do you think he’s talking about trying to find his keys in the dark? Maybe he lost his iPhone?
My Ugly Cry: “True Colors” was a perfect fit for Michelle Chamuel. She’s been such a wonder from the beginning – this crazy powerful voice paired with a joyful, unselfconscious stage presence unlike anyone else on the show. The message of this song cut through the artifices of the competition thanks to Michelle’s complete and utter sincerity, inspiring my ugly cry and creating one of my favorite breakout moments in Voice history.
Reinventing 80’s-90’s Country. Team Blake breathed new life into some 80’s and 90’s country hits Tuesday – from 1987’s “Fishin’ in the Dark” (The Swon Brothers) to 1997’s “How Do I Live” (Holly Tucker). Justin Rivers was the most pleasant surprise with his high energy take on “Meet in the Middle,” but my favorite was Danielle Bradbury’s “Maybe it was Memphis.” She nailed it vocally and was one of the most at ease performers onstage this week (I keep forgetting she’s only 16, y’all).
Fluff Critique: I’m all for positive reinforcement, but I’m starting to miss the more honest critique the coaches gave out during blind auditions (and in previous seasons). I remember being subtly pulled a part by Cee Lo and Christina Aguilera during my first Live performance in Season 2. While it stung, it was authentic. I get the whole “if you have nothing positive to say; don’t say it” – but isn’t honesty the point of coach feedback? When they ignore middling performances and instead talk about the contestant’s story or how inspiring they are, it feels disingenuous.
Let’s Hear it for the Girls. Florence and The Machine was an inspired choice for Team Adam. Although Amber seemed the most at home on “Shake it Out,” all the girls shined on the song, making it my favorite group performance this week (Go Adam Levine!).
More Where That Came From. I don’t think “Let’s Stay Together” gave Karina Iglesias the chance to bust out the versatility and energy she’s previously shown, BUT I am still firmly in her camp. She remains one of the most driven contestants in the competition and a standout on Team Shakira.
Melting America’s Ice Pops. Adam and Usher’s Duet of “Superstition” was hot enough to melt my ice pop AND my dog’s ice pop. Basically, God help your frozen treats when these two coaches combine forces.
You’ve never heard this song?? I feel like we need to have a sit down with the coaches and contestants to go over the last 20 years of popular music. Adam can take a crash course in country. Vedo can familiarize himself with the sweet sounds of Phil Collins. Blake can acquaint himself with Ed Sheeran and other music in constant rotation on Pop radio (in Blake’s defense, “The A Team” doesn’t play in honky-tonks). I think this education would be good for everyone.
Who are YOUR picks to stay (or leave) this week? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and tune in Monday at 8PM EST as I live-tweet the next episode of The Voice (@katrinapmusic).