the voice recap live playoffs night 2

The Voice Live Playoffs, Night 2, Recap: Were the Best 'Saved' For Last?

And then there were 12. In Night 2 of The Voice’s Live Playoffs Tuesday, viewers, along with coaches Gwen Stefani and Adam Levine, took a break from playing Chris Blue’s sublime “Love On the Brain” cover on a loop — or is that only me? — to send packing another six contestants, and at long last, reveal which singers would be competing as Season 12’s Top 12. Who scored, and who bored? Read on…


the voice recap live playoffs night 2Brennley Brown, “Fly” — Grade: A (saved by America’s vote) | “You’re my only girl — you’ve gotta go big!” Gwen told her lone female singer in rehearsal. And damn, did Brennley ever listen. Her performance of the Maddie & Tae hit was gorgeous and emotional, and built to a crescendo that they had to have heard on Mars. Even former coach Blake had to admit that he’d made a mistake dropping her.

Johnny Gates, “Hands to Myself” — Grade: B+ (eliminated) | Adding his familiar rasp to the Selena Gomez hit, Gwen’s eminently likable comeback artist made the song sound even naughtier (which I mean as a positive — duh). By the time he was done reminding us how raucous polished could sound, he’d made a pretty compelling case for why he shouldn’t have been eliminated in the first place. Was it staggering? No. (The song didn’t really allow for that.) But was it rock-solid? Hell, yeah.

Troy Ramey, “A Case of You” — Grade: B+ (saved by Gwen) | Delighted that his coach had chosen for him the Joni Mitchell classic — his late dad had been a fan — the indie-soul singer gave a lovely, introspective performance and even got over his nervousness to break out his falsetto (which was spot-on). This was probably the best we’ve heard from him and kinda brought to mind the understated charm that has taken Lauren Duski so far. Good stuff — thoughtful, vulnerable, memorable.

Quizz Swanigan, “My Girl” — Grade: A- (eliminated) | The eighth-grader was served pretty much the ideal song for him in The Temptations smash, and he returned a rendition that was so sweetly soulful — and so confident to boot — that it felt downright timeless. I know, I know — haters gonna hate. But the kid has charisma to spare, and while his voice can’t compare to, say, Chris Blue’s — Chris is from another planet vocally — Quizz. Slayed. This.

JChosen, “Nothing Compares 2 U” — Grade: C (eliminated) | Sheesh — Gwen definitely gave J a challenge when she assigned him the killer Prince ballad (most famously performed by Sinead O’Connor, least famously by the fab Family). And his version certainly had a lot of heart. But it wasn’t going to stand the test of time, and I doubted it was going to usher him into the Top 12.

the voice recap live playoffs night 2Hunter Plake, “Elastic Heart” — Grade: A (saved by America’s vote) | The first Voice artist to hit the Top 30 on iTunes twice before the Live Playoffs, Hunter utterly owned Sia’s smash, taking it from whispery-soft to howlingly loud. It didn’t hurt that, whether it was just detachment, reserve or nerves, he also exuded cool. Gwen called his performance “unbelievable,” but having heard him before, I didn’t just believe he’d be that good, I kinda expected it. A real contender.


Johnny Hayes, “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” — Grade: B+ (eliminated) | Adam’s comeback artist — having auditioned twice, only to finally make it onto the show, get cut and return to the contest — left it all on the stage in his last chance, adding fancy footwork to his vocal fireworks. Unfortunately, the song — is it just me? — didn’t seem to afford him the opportunity to really let loose the way we know he can. So really, this B+ is more for the song than Johnny — he needed a tune on which he could go wilder.

the voice recap live playoffs night 2Hanna Eyre, “Skyscraper” — Grade: D (eliminated) | The self-described wannabe R&B/pop artist sounded iffy right out of the gate — not an auspicious beginning (especially since we knew she could deliver). From there, jeepers — she sure tried hard. But it came off a whole lot more yelly than singy. Adam called the teen “the sweetest human being,” and maybe she is. Nonetheless, this was a train wreck.

Josh West, “More Than a Feeling” — Grade: D- (eliminated) | Adam said in rehearsal that Josh had a classic-rock voice, but I’m not sure that even this Boston gem would have become a classic if Josh had sung the original. He was off — and we’re talking way off — before he even got to the first chorus, and great hair-band hair does not a better singer make. Suddenly, Hanna’s performance was sounding a whole lot better by comparison.

Mark Isaiah, “All Time Low” — Grade: B- (saved by Adam) | Adam’s would-be teen idol looked the part but fell a little flat on the initial choruses. His coach wanted to go with the Jon Bellion song to keep his artist from coming off predictable, but the downside of this selection was that it didn’t give Mark — who can sing — a chance to show off. Even Adam seemed to realize it, pleading for votes as if he knew he’d screwed up.

Lilli Passero, “It’s Too Late” — Grade: B (saved by America’s vote) | Ah — the Carole King classic seemed like the perfect choice for Lilli in rehearsals. And on stage, eh… it seemed surprisingly less ideal. Lilli sounded mostly solid, but this wasn’t the kind of star-making performance that I always expect from her. She didn’t sound like the “world-class singer” Adam called her (and that I think of her as), and all of a sudden seemed like somebody Chris Blue or Brennley Brown could defeat a whole lot more easily.

Jesse Larson, “Sir Duke” — Grade: B- (saved by America’s vote) | Psyched to get to do a song by his idol, Stevie Wonder, Jesse looked like he was having a blast, and his guitar-playing was, as far as I could tell, on point. (Truth be told, I can barely play a CD player — what do I know, right?) But the overall impression Jesse left was that he was kinda like your funky uncle having a good time at your family reunion. Fun but not exactly earth-shattering.

So, who did you think gave the night’s best and worst performances? Biggest surprise? Disappointment? Hit the comments.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. analythinker says:

    I must admit I expected more from Lilli and was left feeling a little void. Also a bit let down by Hunter & Brennley’s delivery (perhaps from lack of power) although I have to agree with America’s votes. Troy, however…. needs to take more risks. I appreciate Johnny Gates for the variety he could offer, but eh, maybe he’ll be successful nonetheless.

    • kevstar69 says:

      Lilli did the right thing. Don’t pick a song that’s too harsh for the listener’s ear.

    • Jimmy Wilson says:

      Troy is a Throwback
      To the Great Bruice Springtein

      • Johnson says:

        If I were a front-runner on the show, I would tremble in fear to have Troy Ramey or Aliyah Moulden following my act. Troy could out-sing me and Aliyah could steal the crowd. Unless they or their coaches make stupid song choices, which happens often, I would be afraid. very afraid.

    • Peggy says:

      I agree. Lilli is my favorite but I wanted something more along the lines of the song she did in the blinds. I was so glad she made it though and hope for more in the next round. I don’t think Adam picked a very good song to showcase her talent.

      • LIzzie says:

        I know that LIlli is in her mid-twenties, but it seemed like she didn’t even know the song.

      • Temperance says:

        The song choice was terrible – dreadful 70’s drek seemed to be everywhere. The original sticking around is enough – we need no covers. It was a waste of Lilli’s time covering that song, and despite getting through, the song choice was terrible. And Jesse? Why did America put through a fun Friday night bar band guy that will never sell a record? Mark was a far better choice if you’re trying to chose artists that will sell.

    • keeten says:

      i partly agree, hunter let me down, but Brennley was the complete opposite, i dont think you,watched the same performance, the song wasnt suppose to be sung softly, i could understand everything she said, halfway through she really belted out, sorry if you were not feeling it, but i did. i loved it

  2. Dodee says:

    I don’t know if it’s just in the moon and the stars, but tonight performances have just not made it for me. I did like Quiz, who slowed the song a little too much. Lillie sounds good right now. Probably one of the best if she doesn’t go off key. Nice

    • Smokey says:

      I agree on that Quizz’s slowed-down version of the song seemed a bit too slow, but he has hit the top 40 in the R&B category of itunes with it, so some like it.

      • Meg says:

        So glad to see a positive, well deserved grade for Quizz.I love the old time charm of the greatest music ever, Motown and Quizz is a real showman. He should have been one of the top three. As our President would say, “Sad.”

        • LIzzie says:

          Quizz’s age caught him, that’s about all. And he got some bad advice from the stage crew that works with the singer on the performance – too many spins, too slowed down, and kind of naturally for that night’s potential consequence, he seemed too stressed. I love the kid, he’s a good singer and a charmer.

    • davmon says:

      Agree performances were down tonight. A big factor was that the music production values seemed more pedestrian–some bland, some overdone. So most vocalists were not enhanced.

  3. Betsy says:

    I wasn’t happy about Jesse’s song choice (sir duke) but he was amazing. Proved he can do anything. You’re crazy for not hearing that!!

  4. Smokey says:

    Except for Lilli, Adam did a horrible job of picking songs for his troops. Was glad to see Lilli get voted through without a save. Gwen killed J Chosen with that song pick, but have to say that the save of Troy Ramey was well deserved. Troy and formerly dispatched Enid, and perhaps Hunter Plake are the best … could-do-anything-well … actual vocalists this year. ………………………………… but the over-all “image/look/style/likeability/potentials” of the contestant, along with their coaches popularity, will help determine the winner, regardless of who has a great voice.

  5. Florence&TheMachineRules!!! #TeamMariah says:

    Lilli, Brennley and Hunter really owned it tonight! I respectfully disagree with Lilli’s grading, I thought that she felt the intention of the song and channeled an intimate connection with it. Also she looked gorgeous, and she sounded pretty Flawless. Brennley really has become a Frontrunner TBH, she has grown so much, and she sounded so gorgeous too! Hunter was great too! Although not my fave vocal from him, he was very heartfelt. Overall not bad, although I would have taken JChosen over Troy and Hanna over Mark TBH.

    • Smokey says:

      Adam sabotaged Hanna with that song choice.,,,,,,,, had a teen girl in our band that insisted on doing that song for a while a few years back,, and it was never a crowd-pleaser, even though she did it very well vocally. Of all the good songs for her he could have chosen,,,, was disappointing the minute they named the song ….

    • davmon says:

      Agree w/FTMR. Lilli was near perfect.

  6. loisbea says:

    I don’t know how to play a CD player either, but I know one when I see one.

  7. scott says:

    Lilly should win, but we all know the best singers never win. And what’s with the kid who wore my mom’s jacket from back in ’89….couldn’t understand 80% of what was coming out of his mouth. I’m guessing he’s simply on the show for the teen eye candy aspect. The show is paving ghe way for one of the ‘heartthrobs’ to win. But I think Brenly, Lilly were tonight’s best. Could be an interesting final 12 though

    • Smokey says:

      Lilli has 3 things going against her in the competition,,,,,,,,,,,,
      1. it’s harder for a female to win, as the vote is generally slanted toward male singers……………………………

      2. she has no specific genre/avenue to run on, such as Country or Pop, and won’t .build a younger fan base or steal much from the R&B or Country lane. …………………………..

      3. Adam as her coach, is prone to push her toward some lame song choices. He seems to overlook what her strengths are and goes with his own mottled idea of how he wants to “cast” her as a singer.

      • scott says:

        Yeah, I hear ya. Her lane is leaning towards adult contemporary at this point. I think she should try a country ballad and flip it slightly.

  8. C Barclay says:

    Felt cheated, what happened to performing one night, voting time and results the next night? Watched the show but decided it wasnt worth picking any favorites, the tv screen said voting was already closed, show pre-recorded. I guess the east coast gets to vote only.

  9. Gorgonzola Matrix says:

    Still waiting for Gwen to say something that isn’t a variation on “You’re so magical, I’m such a fan of your voice”.

    I hope the top 4 are Lilli, Lauren, Vanessa, and Chris. Or Hunter in there somewhere too.

    Did anyone else thirst for Adam Levine’s beard as much as I did? He should own his daddyness more.

    • scott says:

      I agree with 3 of your 4. For me the jury is still out on Chris and Stephanie. For me, Hunter is too ‘current’ and not in a good way. I prefer timeless over current. Maybe if I could actually understand more than every 5th word, my opinion might change. I miss the days when the coaches would actually critique the contestants. They would definitely bring that up.

    • OrionOnion says:

      Give her a break, the other judges make the exact same types of comments. It’s all positivity because they are “coaches” not critics. Makes you miss Simon Cowell’s honesty.

      • loisbea says:

        The producers ought to fill the time in another way. None of the other coaches are critical–Adam is always the most helpful–but Gwen just goes on and on. Same thing, over and over.

        • Secret Garden says:

          I fast forward through anything the coaches say to any of the singers. There’s never a drop of critical response. Never constructive help. The performance is always amazing, fantastic, unbelievable, the best, etc. It’s not true. Why are the singers not critiqued, flaws and all? How does one grow? This is a reason the Voice will never be American Idol. Thank you for saving viewing time on my end. Perform, FF, perform, FF.

  10. OrionOnion says:

    Thought the performance production sacrificed the vocals so that band was too loud. Couldn’t understand what the singers were singing. A problem if you don’t know a song.

    • Smokey says:

      yeah, the sound control mix of vocals and band, was sometimes not good. Over-driving band volume over the vocals can be a problem for some in that sound-control position.

    • davmon says:

      Seems quality of band, arrangements, & overall production has dropped from a couple years ago when American Idol was competition. Last night, Alicia seemed to insist on better arrangements–and it showed. Tonight, a lot of blase’ music played behind the talent. Seems the producers have a sure thing and are cutting corners.

      • Kailani says:

        The arrangement for “It’s Too Late” was HORRIFIC. I blame that as much for Lilly’s performance as Lilly herself. I mean, the arrangement was TOTALLY OFF.

        But I’m done with the show this season because I’m a West Coaster pissed about the voting set-up. You don’t care about me, NBC, and I don’t care about your show.

    • scott says:

      If you noticed, some singers were able to sing above the band even in the louder band moments. When you hear vocal volume fluctuations within a song that’s the contestant singing that low and a bi-product of being live. The best thing to do, is to have a more ‘acoustic’ intimate type of performance, hence Lilli. The big voices can handle the band though.

  11. davmon says:

    On TEAM GWEN, glad 2 of my top 3—Hunter & Brennly advanced. Feel JChosen deserved Gwen’s choice a bit more than Troy.

  12. Kelly says:

    James Wolpert singing A Case of You on the Voice a number of years back is one of my all time favorite Voice performances and itunes Voice downloads, so I had a hard time not comparing tonight’s version to his.

  13. analythinker says:

    Hm, so I’m the only one who thinks Lilli was missing something…

  14. davmon says:

    On TEAM ADAM: The two best IMO, Lilli and Jesse were voted in; there was no strong 3rd. Adam chose Mark; I slightly preferred JohnnyH.

  15. Barry says:

    Mmmm, I have to disagree with most of this grades, I don’t even know where to begin. I have high expectations for Lilli also, she is much more capable of what she did tonight, but it was still A- worthy for me, she is Adam’s only chance at making it to the finals and she solidified that tonight, especially after Jesse’s stumble; I really love Hunter but just like Lilli, this was his weekest effort so far, maybe my love for Hannah Huston clouds my judgment but I wasn’t feeling him tonight, a B+ at best for me; I really really really hated Troy tonight, that is a sacred song for me and he sang with absolutely cero emotion or feeling or anything, if it was up to me, he’ll be gone next week; Mark has a wonderfull voice, but that song was pure poop, he’s capable of better; Brennley was my favorite tonight, even her had some minors pitch issues, but she has such a wonderfull voice and I believe her every time she opens her mouth to sing which makes me forget how young she really is. And the less said about Josh and Hannah the better…

  16. Bettina Scott says:

    I finally get why Blake is with Gwen. She’s vapid. There’s just nothing there. It’s probably really easy for a guy to be with someone like that.

    • loisbea says:

      That’s mean, of course. But then, I did say to my husband that there ought to be subtitles underneath Gwen’s comments that say “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” I don’t know if she’s vapid, but on this show, she does talk a lot without saying anything. Still, she does provide an interesting fashion show. I thought her “Three’s Company” Suzanne Somers look was very fitting this evening. Also, I’m sure she, and Christine Aguilera before her, are just trying to share, relate to, and make a connection with their team members, but constantly turning the conversation back to her experiences and career just seems very self-involved.

    • Timmah says:

      I just can’t stand that they’re both on the same panel when they’re in a relationship. This show has jumped the shark in so many ways that I’m barely watching this season.

  17. skrable2a says:

    Gwen sabotaged JChosen with that song choice. The guy has a massive, strong voice … and she gave him as reserved, quiet a song as possible. Just a horrible decision, and you could see it in the look on his face when he finished as he stood next to Carson.

    Now, had Hunter sang Nothing Compares 2 U instead of that string of tortured gibberish he over-emoted, that might have been a good fit.

    • LIzzie says:

      JChosen was robbed by Gwen, he knew it was wrong during rehearsal when he asked why this song for him, and she said some bunch of nothing about how it was right. I tried super hard to like what Hunter was singing last night, but it was mostly just a garbled mess.

      • Smokey says:

        Yes, of all the songs J Chosen could have excelled on, Gwen picked a very poor song for him. He was robbed of his chance by that choice. He never should have picked her as a coach.

    • scott says:

      Definitely! And when they want a contestant to falter, they will stick them with a song that is not conducive to their voice or a song with poor chances of high ITunes sales.

  18. loisbea says:

    To answer you headline: That’s a “No.” But the best of this night was Quizz. Shame on Gwen for not saving him. J Chosen’s song didn’t suit him, and he seemed depressed afterwards, but at least he clearly enunciated the lyrics, which is more than you can say for two-thirds of the performers. (Gwen doesn’t deserve to win–and we do know that it’s all about the coaches–just for sabotaging her own contestant.) I agree that Johnny Hayes gave the best performance of Adam’s team, but Jesse is just very likable and fun to watch. Hunter Plake is a watered-down emo singer. And even on the iTunes recording (sample), with earphones on, I couldn’t understand a word he said. And I know the song well. He gave a good performance a couple of weeks ago, but come on. Fairly weak voice. Weak emoting gets old, fast. Brennley Brown: She’s okay. But: Lyrics, please? Troy Ramey, same. One really doesn’t want to mumble “A Case of You.” Mark Isaiah was better than Lilli Passero. I think America just liked Carol King. But Carol King songs have a limited range, and “It’s too Late” is one of the least challenging, and are not the best choice for anyone on this show.

  19. Lili is another overrated contestant, like in every season, we’ve got one and she is the one
    Hunter, Hunter, Hunter. I know Chris is good, but Gosh Hunter is haunting

  20. JR says:

    Song choices on this show don’t make a lot of sense. Sir Duke is a fun song, but it is not a song to pick if you are trying to show off your singing.

  21. dbsuma says:

    I’m so happy that Gwen chose Troy Ramey to advance. He is my favorite this season. I think Hunter, Chris Blue, Jesse and Mark are very strong.

  22. Linda69 says:

    Jessie Larson for sure!!

  23. Sharon says:

    Horrible song choice for Jchosen. REALLY sorry he as eliminated. IT just shows that he’s folks have to pick the right coach.

  24. Sharon says:

    That was not a good song choice for Jay.

  25. LIzzie says:

    Troy should have sung A Case of You without fiddling so much with the melody, and Gwen was dead wrong about him using the falsetto. I like his voice and performances overall, but he kind of butchered this great song. He could have sung this much better if he had any other coach at all. Like JChosen, Gwen sank her own contestants this week with the songs or advice that she gave to them. JChosen – key was too high, song was wrong, she did this guy zero favors for his chances. Gwen isn’t as bad as Miley, but her lack of music credentials (zero Grammys) makes her in the Madonna zone but not even as good as that, where the coach’s own vocal ability isn’t enough for her to be on that stage.

    Brennley sang nicely, but it was boring. Johnny Gates (like most of the other comebacks) showed why he was already out of the competition. Jesse sang and performed way better than just about anyone’s uncle or any other relative you may have – the place was going nuts after his performance, and if they liked it that much live in the studio, it had to be pretty darn good.

    Lilli kept singing one note of Carole King’s song wrong, it was almost grating. At first I thought she must not know the melody, but if that was artistic license, it should not happen. Like with Troy, if you take a song that people have heard for many years and screw with key aspects of it, it does not work. We don’t need to feel like each song has been made your own, try just singing really really well, not as an imitator, but as you singing the actual song. If it turns out great, we will know it. Overall, Lilli deserves to stay and sing another week.

    Hannah oh Hannah – she sang better in rehearsal than she did live, so her age may have caught up to her in the performance, kind of like Quizz who ran through his tricks but it was too staged. Whoever slowed down Quizz’s production to that slow speed, they should probably be canned. A few too many spins and not enough of the feeling that showed in the rehearsal, so desperate effort to stay kind of kicked these two kids off. They had a uniique and great experience, though, and they are each better than past seasons performers who made it closer to the end.

    Not enjoying Stephanie, although it is really nice for her personally to get this chance – her voice isn’t what has her in this at this point of the competition. A song called The Voice should be about that. Again, desperation does not make for the best vocals, and she overstrained what she’s got to the point where I wanted to turn off the volume.

    • John Anthony says:

      Did you happen to see Simon C, comment on the over all talent on The Voice. His comment that the talent was average at best speaks for itself. I would like to see The Voice come up with a new young talent who actually has a chance to become a super star but I have to agree with those who say they have to wait until this fall and hope again. Right now, Rae Lynn is their only hope, that’s including this bunch. I like your comments as well and I understand that you have to deal with the performers The Voice gives you. I think they should stop bringing in the older talent. If The Voice is going to break through it will not be with some performer who’s been out there for years already.

      • Johnson says:

        The gist of the show, is just to put-on a show and maintain a good viewer rating. The goal never has been to create a one-in-ten-million star — they would like that, but it’s not the mission of the show. The format of the show mostly runs on sad or human interest stories of the contestants,, side-stories, surprise kids that sing, and glorifying the Coaches and Mentors, not on making a star. Carrie and Kelly from Idol,, made it big on their own determination and tenacity to stay in the business, Idol was a launching pad,, but lasting stardom was gained through their own drive and decisions far past on beyond the Idol experience.

        • scott says:

          And just to add to that, we are in an era where music sales are down in general. American Idol, really didn’t have any major stars since Kelly/Carrie. So a breakout star in today’s world means being a one or two hit wonder. That could happen here. But if any contestant has a chance at somewhat long term stardom, it would be Vanessa or one of the blonde country girls.

          • John Anthony says:

            All you have to do is ask the producers if they would like to get a star out of the show. Simon said it best as a producer. The Voice doesn’t put the effort into finding a new star. He also helped both Carrie and Kelly long after they were on The Idol. Join in on any chat forum with the two ladies and ask them!

  26. Spooner says:

    I love reading your recaps – and for the most part think you are spot on. But your Jesse Larson take just doesn’t compute with me. I feel like this guy is one of the better singers this show has ever had. And last night’s performance was bonkers.

  27. Earlene Gibbs says:

    Why can’t everyone vote this year? I’m in MST and am unable to vote. I hate it!

  28. Smokey says:

    The Voice in The iTunes Top 100 ……….

    #44 Elastic Heart (The Voice Performance)
    Artist: Hunter Plake
    Released: April 18, 2017

    #85 Love On the Brain (The Voice Performance)
    Artist: Chris Blue
    Released: April 17, 2017 …

    #89 Someone Else’s Star (The Voice Performance)
    Artist: Lauren Duski
    Released: April 17, 2017 …

    #96 I Want To Know What Love Is (The Voice Performance)
    Artist: Hunter Plake
    Released: April 3, 2017

  29. ProVoice says:

    Only one artist matters to me on this show and the only reason worth tuning in (with a remote in hand):
    Hunter Plake.

  30. Voice Fan says:

    Hunter Plake has a beautiful voice and is topping the I Tunes chart but I can’t understand a word he is singing and he has no personality. The winners usually have more than just a good voice. They have personality, looks and they are exciting performers. Some winners dominated the I Tunes charts and others sneaked up and had number 1 hits at the last moment. We’ll see if Hunter can stay on top or if Chris and Lauren and others get number 1 hits in the following weeks.

  31. Smurf says:

    And besides that, what in the world have you people, and the voice outfit, done with Gaby Borromeo? Girl was stellar. This is a travesty and an outrage. She should be top 12. Coaches are all full of bs, tell em they’re incredible, could easily win the show, then drop em like nothing.

  32. JESS says:

    NOT A GOD SINGER! Would rather hear my grandmother sing Amazing Grace