Monday’s episode of The Voice was both extra special and completely ordinary — the former because the contestants were performing songs that changed their lives, the latter because, at the end of the day, all they were really trying to do was, as usual, remain in the running to win. Which of the Top 13 sounded like safe bets to advance? Read on, and we’ll discuss the hell out of the performances.
Kique (Team Gwen), “Superstition” — Grade: B+ | Since it was Kique’s high-school band teacher who introduced the 19-year-old to Stevie Wonder’s hit, he should probably go back and thank him, because he sounded damn good on the number — strong, soulful and confident. His coach said that he’d not only nailed it, he’d made it his own, and snarky as I tend to be, I had to agree.
Bryce Leatherwood (Team Blake), “Amarillo by Morning” — Grade: B+ | “If you aim at the king” — George Strait in this case — “you’d better not miss,” Bryce told us before taking a bite of the classic on which he’d cut his teeth. And by God, he didn’t miss. Blake’s country boy turned out a not perfect but still damn fine rendition and what just might’ve been my favorite of his performances to date. (Definitely won’t need the Instant Save Tuesday!)
Devix (Team Camila), “R U Mine?” — Grade: A- | In rehearsal, Devix sounded like he was made to sing the Arctic Monkeys song that had made him really consider being a vocalist. And on stage, oh yeah! [Bleep], yeah, even! This was a total rock-god moment for Devix. He sounded amazing and looked utterly at home in the spotlight. Unless you hate alt-rock, I have a feeling that by the time he was done, you were as obsessed with him as I am. Beyond wicked!
Rowan Grace (Team Blake), “The Winner Takes It All” — Grade: C- | In rehearsal, the 17-year-old shared that she’d performed ABBA songs for her parents as a youngster. (Well, as an even younger youngster.) I wasn’t sure doing so here was such a hot idea, though. As much as I want to like her — honest, I do — this was just… What’s the word? A mess. Pitchy, yelly, just all over the place. Not quite a disaster, but to my ears, pretty close to it. Of course, I could be totally wrong; the coaches had only praise for Rowan.
Omar Jose Cardona (Team Legend), “In the Name of Love” — Grade: A+ | After explaining that Bebe Rexha/Martin Garrix’s song had set him down a better path (away from isolating himself and just partying), Omar stepped up to the mic and reminded me in no uncertain terms why I’d been so high on him previously. A much, much better song selection than we’d heard from him lately; it allowed his vocals to soar in a way that was… sheesh. It felt freaking impossible! Not good, not great, astonishing!
Alyssa Witrado (Team Gwen), “Dreaming of You” — Grade: D | Singing the Selena hit that once made her realize how much she missed her late grandfather, Gwen’s Mini-Me delivered a roadkill-flat performance that was punctuated by the most hand gestures we’d seen since Morgan Myles a couple of weeks ago. At least after this, Rowan’s performance didn’t seem so bad by comparison. Alyssa even received a smidgen of gentle constructive criticism from Camila (and you know how rare criticism is on this show!).
bodie (Team Blake), “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” — Grade: A | Oo, I just knew this was gonna be amazing from the minute the fan fave told us that he wanted to, as his coach would put it, bodie-ize The Proclaimers’ hit that made him think of his wife and their life together. He started it off slow and thoughtful, then built up to a chorus that sounded gloriously passionate rather than just cheerful like the original. No way bodie isn’t going all the way to the Finals. Dude’s a star and a half!
Kim Cruse (Team Legend), “Always On My Mind” — Grade: A+ | The Texas powerhouse hoped to surprise viewers by doing a country song — and one that she’d come to appreciate on a new level after her grandmother’s passing. I don’t know if I’d say I was surprised — Kim could sing the phone book and sound amazing. But Lord, she did indeed sound divine here! She took us to church and delivered a take on Willie Nelson that was heart-tugging and soul-stirring to the nth.
Brayden Lape (Team Blake), “Come Over” — Grade: C+ | Singing the Sam Hunt version of the Kenny Chesney number that made him fall in love with singing, the 16-year-old was more of a shrug than a high-five. He was a little pitchy and so laid-back, he might as well have been lying down. “You have a future in country music,” his coach assured him. I wasn’t super-duper sure that he had much of one in this contest, however. Knowing that Brayden has been better, this was a lackluster disappointment.
Eric Who (Team Camila), “Can’t Help Falling in Love” — Grade: C | Hoping to show America his softer side, Eric dove into the Elvis ballad that he said he started singing differently after he fell in love for the first time. And soft, it certainly was. Unfortunately, without his usual flashy stage persona, we were left to notice once again that he’s an OK-at-best singer. Sweet fella, fun to watch, but is he an Omar, Devix or bodie? Alas, no.
Morgan Myles (Team Camila), “If I Were a Boy” — Grade: A+ | Feeling like Beyonce’s smash told the story of how much easier her own path as a country singer would’ve been were she a guy, Morgan absolutely ripped into the song with a forcefulness and fire that almost dared you to deny how
good great she is. Arguably her best performance so far. Utterly electric!
Parijita Bastola (Team Legend), “All I Ask” — Grade: A | Performing the Adele song with which she scored first place in a Nepalese singing competition, the teenager — so far, my pick to win Season 22 — delivered another in an unbroken string of stunning performances. The kid just sings like a total pro, with as much control as emotion. What else can you say about a contestant who can not only take on an Adele song but rise to the monumental challenge that it presents? She’s awesome.
Justin Aaron (Team Gwen), “Break Every Chain” — Grade: A+ | In rehearsal, Justin explained that Tasha Cobbs Leonard’s song helped lift him out of an awful depression. In that case, his coach wanted him to go for it and cry. Instead, he had to have made a lotta viewers cry. The one-chair turn poured so much intensity into his performance, he all but roared. “You took it to the next level,” Gwen exclaimed. If you ask me, he even took it to the level after that, too. Superpowered!