Given the frequency with which the coaches on The Voice make decisions that leave us howling, it was with some trepidation that I sat down to watch Monday’s episode. Since the Playoffs weren’t live this season, that meant that viewers would have no say in their outcome, and it would be entirely up to Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, Chance the Rapper and Niall Horan to choose which contestants stay and which contestants go. And three out of five members of each team were going to be cut. “That is super Hunger Games,” Kelly observed. Was I — and possibly not only I — right to worry whether the panel would get it right? Read on, and we’ll discuss how Teams Blake and Chance fared. (Teams Kelly and Niall perform next Monday.)
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON
NOIVAS, “Come Together” — Grade: A | If anyone but NOIVAS was going to tackle the Beatles’ mega-hit, I’d have been concerned that they’d bitten off more than they could chew. Not him, though. There may not exist a song that’s too mammoth for him. He’s straight-up fire and, on top of that, a showman and a half. And though I’m not nearly as prone to goosebumps as Niall, I got ’em — big time. Just give NOIVAS the win already.
Rachel Christine, “The Only Exception” — Grade: B | Stolen from Kelly during the Knockouts, Rachel delivered a perfectly competent Paramore cover. It just wasn’t all that exciting, and her voice, fine as it is, just isn’t all that unique or memorable. Her long, soaring notes in particular were noteworthy but not so noteworthy that I didn’t think that she was going to be in trouble come elimination time.
Grace West, “Love Is Alive” — Grade: A | Though the 19-year-old had never sung The Judds’ oldie, she performed it as if she’d been doing so her whole life long. Vocally, it may not have been the showiest number of the night — Kelly said so, too — but nonetheless, Grace performed it with confidence, nuance and, ahem, grace. It was so lovely that even if the audience was voting, she’d definitely have made it to the Semi-Finals.
Kylee Dayne, “Flowers” — Grade: D | Oh dear. Kylee, it seemed, was destined to be an easy cut for Blake. Her voice is ordinarily fine, and if she took a turn at the mic on karaoke night, I’d be content enough. But this was by no means a star-making performance. At best, it was adequate; at worst, it went so far off the rails that it wound up crashing into a tree. Poor kid seemed to know it, too.
Mary Kate Connor, “If I Die Young” — Grade: C | Putting her background in the theatre to work, Blake’s Playoff Pass artist cued up a dramatic cover of the Band Perry’s hit that… oops. Shined a spotlight on her vocal weaknesses. At the end of the day, I thought that Blake’s choice should be easy: NOIVAS and Grace were clearly the contestants that he should have put through.
TEAM CHANCE THE RAPPER
Kala Banham, “My Funny Valentine” — Grade: A+ | After being passed from Team Kelly to Team Niall to Team Chance, Kala made a stunning case for why they should’ve all considered her a keeper. Her rendition of the jazz standard was nothing short of magnificent. “Was it perfect?” Blake asked afterwards. “I think it was actually perfect.” Agreed. So emotional and, as Kelly put it, “all the great adjectives.”
Jamar Langley, “The Thrill Is Gone” — Grade: A | Not only did Jamar bring to the stage the swagger that his coach challenged him to — watch your back, NOIVAS — he put forth a passionate performance that I didn’t just enjoy, I believed. He might have given us a less flashy vocal than NOIVAS but a no less compelling one. And when Jamar is at the mic, I’m at ease — I never doubt that the pro is going to deliver.
Manasseh Simone, “Speak the Name” — Grade: C+ | Back after two weeks off, Chance’s Playoff Pass artist took us to church with a gospel number by Season 7 finalist Koryn Hawthorne, packing it with enough power to reach the heavens. Unfortunately, for a good bit of the song, Manasseh sounded pitchy. So the feeling was 100-percent there; the vocal, not as much. You know an artist is in trouble when a coach says, as Kelly did, “It looks like a finale moment” rather than “It sounds like a finale moment.”
Ray Uriel, “Essence” — Grade: B | After an intro sung as softly as mist evaporating at daybreak, Ray went (a little bit) upbeat for a change. And vocally, his performance was a solid “A.” Note-perfect. But I had to knock his grade down a letter because he seemed so detached from it that he was turned into almost… like… a handsome iPod. Were voting involved, methinks he would’ve been in trouble.
Sorelle, “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” — Grade: A | Performing Christina Aguilera’s version of Etta James’ classic, the sibling influencers once again slayed. They’re machines, these three. And while they are kind of a lot in their backstage interviews, they’re just-right on stage. Obviously, they had to advance. But who to send with them? Much tougher decision than Blake’s. I’d probably have sent Kala and hoped that she could be another Maelyn Jarmon. (By the way, I know I’ve given out a lotta A’s tonight; what can I say? It was a good show!)
And in the moment(s) of truth…
SAVED | NOIVAS (Team Blake), Grace West (Team Blake), Sorelle (Team Chance), Ray Uriel (Team Chance)
ELIMINATED | Rachel Christine (Team Blake), Kylee Dayne (Team Blake), Mary Kate Connor (Team Blake), Kala Banham (Team Chance), Jamar Langley (Team Chance), Manasseh Simone (Team Chance)
Which performer from each team did you think gave the evening’s best performance? Vote in the polls below, then hit the comments with the singers you were sorriest to see cut.
Very, extremely, disappointed that Kala Banham didn’t advance. Also wanted to see Jamar move forward.
While I appreciate the talent for harmonies and get why Chance would pick them, Sorelle doesnothing for me. Always seems a bit one trick pony. But that’s just me.
I would have preferred he choose Jamar and Kala.
Blake had easy choice imo. Noivas is an amazing performer and Grace is solid country vocalist.
You are right on. If Sorelle should win, that is 2 years in a row that a group wins, right? (Girl named Tom). I think no more groups. It doesn’t seem right. Why oh why did chance pick Ray? Jamar and Kala were the obvious winners. Side note: I sure do like Niall and hope he stays on next season.
Nial is so charming and fun, I hope he stays too.
Sorelle A-:My favorite thing about Sorelle is that their song choices are never boring, although even if they were to sing a song that’s been done a million times on these shows (Mercy, Never Enough, Dangerous Woman, etc.), I’d still enjoy it. Definitely Chance’s strongest aside from Kala. I’d be happy if they made finale, but middle America isn’t on board with them, so idk how high their chances are.
Manasseh Samone (C-): AKA Jershika Maple lite. Except she doesn’t have the artistry of Jershika, I think, or her ability to completely slay in high pressure situations. She was shaky and pitchy in a lot more area, and I think the song was a bit boring tbh. Wasn’t as disappointed as I thought I would be at her elimination.
Mary Kate Connor (B-): Poor Mary Kate. If this was a cut from top 20 to a top 13, she’d be a shoo-in. After she breakout moment in the battles, she really shot up the ranks of my favs, and while this wasn’t as strong (sounded a bit pitchy and out of breath in song spots) an attempt, it was still a solid attempt on a decent song choice.
Rachel Christine (B): Rachel is truly a chameleon. She always gets assigned out-of-the-box song choices, but for some reason, she always seem just a tad boring for me. I think her tone just isn’t anything unique, although this was by no means a miss.
Kala Banham A+: This hurt. Kala has been slept on all season, and after giving us nothing but master-class performances, she gave us a performance that STILL topped her previous efforts AND went home? Oof.
Ray Uriel (B-): This is a really interesting song choice, although his song choices usually are, I think. Vocally, he’s grown since his blind, but similarly to Rachel, I just don’t really see any star quality about him. That oupled with how rare it is for non-team-Blake, non-Christian black artists to garner votes on this show, I predict he’s toast next week. It was a solid performance, but it’s ludicrous and borderline offensive that he advanced when Kala went home.
Jamar B+: Jamar’s been great. I think this was his best performance of the season. his voice is alwasy strong, and he’s got runs and range for days, yet strangely I’m not that distraught over his elimination. Idk, maybe he’s just not my cup of tea.
Grace B+: It’s always such a pleasure listening to Grace. She had my favorite knockout of the season, certainly, and I’m happy she advances. Although this didn’t top “Here You Come Again,” (I think the song choice was a tad on the nose), her tone is truly special. Blake’s best shot at winning for sure.
Kylee (C-): The beginning sounded solid, although my initial thoughts were that that the song choice wasn’t that interesting. She went of the rails at the end more and more as the performance went on, but since she’s been pretty solid this whole season I was pretty surprised at how middling this was.
NOIVAS A: NOIVAS is just so cool. Wasn’t my favorite song choice (I feel like we already have similar versions), that’s not necessarily the fault of the contestant. One thing I’m going to miss about Blake is how he always tries to have a person of color on his live teams (I think because he’s aware of how the public vote tends to skew). Not that NOIVAS needed this kid of affirmative action, though, he’s been rock solid all season.
The next artists perform next Monday actually (not Tuesday as you said) FYI
I was just about to say the same thing, but you beat me to it! 🙂
I have no idea why I typed Tuesday. Maybe I was that upset about Kala. Fixed, anyway. Tx for catching.
I can’t believe they are not on Tuesday, they have done a terrible job of pacing this show this year. The cuts were way too big and America only gets to vote on the top eight. The two new judges were great additions to the show but this show needs an overhaul.
STILL STUNNED that the BEST performance this year–My Funny Valentine– did not put Kala in the finals. Ayiyiyiyiyiiiii.
Yes, if anyone wants to believe that it’s all preordained by the producers, and the performances have little to do with it, this won’t dissuade them.
Or there’s always a new judge on this show who does a great job selecting talents then absolutely sabotages their chances in the elimination rounds before the votes. (Not that anyone gets to vote much anymore; it might as well be the Masked Singer).
This!!! I was sooooo mad! Chance has lost his mind!
Just saw someone on Idol sing The Only Exception an hour ago. She sounded better there. The other girl.
Iam Tongi is the one to watch. On Idol. He and We Ani are killing it.
Yes. And did you notice that one of the song choices for Mary Beth on Idol was “Here You Come Again” by Dolly Parton and a Voice contestant just sang that recently.
The newfangled Playoff Save proved a disaster. Both Manasseh & Mary Kate seemed out of sorts, having missed time with coaches and time on the big stage.
Kala was straight up robbed wtf
Anyways Kala, Grace, NOIVAS, Manasseh and Sorelle were solid! Kala in particular had a huge moment
Am absolutely shocked by Kala Banham being eliminated after the hands-down best performance tonight.
Kala should have gone through, I don’t know what Chance was thinking. Sorelle and Kala ffs Chance.
I’d forgotten how fab Kala was on Joni’s “Both Sides Now” in Blinds! Her “My Funny Valentine” was my fave of night! Tragic that she is gone! My choice was Kala over Sorelle; and Jamar over Ray.
Having to drop 3 out of 5, Chance had to think strategically. He likely decided Kala’s lane was narrow for facing the popular voting of late rounds compared to the fun dynamic Sorelle. Once he chose Sorelle, then he could not choose the other white performer over 3 talented black singers. That was reasonable.
Chance may be right to go with a more popular act like Sorelle. And the smooth sound of Ray may also have wider appeal than Jamar. But I don’t have to like it. I loved Kala & Jamar! So sad!
While I like Chance, he has the ignominy of ditching NOIVAS for Blake to pick up and now sending home the other best-of-show Kala! That’s a harsh record! But if he gets to finale with Sorelle, he may feel justified, I guess!
“Once he chose Sorelle, then he could not choose the other white performer over 3 talented black singers. That was reasonable.”
Say what? The show is called “The Voice.” In any case it’s ridiculous because Kala isn’t white.
= TY for your response–and for that correction. To follow-up, I just read she is a mix of Polish/Australian and Filipino descent.
= My attempt above was to understand Chance’s thinking, leading to Sorelle & Ray. On pure talent, this should have been Kala & Jamar imo.
Oh, please! They pick country singers over talented black singers. Every year!
Absolutely gutted that we won’t hear Kayla any more. She delivered such a masterful performance. I had all the feels listening to her. Chance had the toughest decision to make. Personally I would have loved Kayla and Jamar but I get Sorelle being chosen. Ray is great, just doesn’t do it for me.
Think their should be a third, voted by the viewers. Too harsh a cut..
My thoughts exactly, cutting from 20 to 8 is too much. Need fan favorites in the top 12! Not this way.
Now I remembered why I stopped watching the voice many moons ago. When that Sundance Head guy won from Blake’s team over Billy Gilman. Never heard S. H. name ever again. Afraid that’s exactly what’s gonna happen here with Noice ?? I hope note
Sundance was incredible Yes Billy was great but Sundance touched the heart. I have never been a country fan but I voted for Sundance.
I really liked Jamar because he sang songs that I grew up listening to and I like the way he carried his self on stage
Noivas he had me when he sang one of the Beatles Songs it just made me melt The Beatles that was my band back in the day
Kala’s “My Funny Valentine” was perfection in every way. The way she cut a word up and built up each note was so unique. Vocal skills for days. Very memorable. If the audience was voting she would have definitely moved on with Sorella. The guy he put through gave a fine/ok vocal but isn’t gonna move past the semis
Chance just had so many good people on his team it was definitely harder than picking who should proceed on Blake’s team.
I mean Sorelle was a guarantee for sure. But then I also wanted to see Jamar and Kala move on. It just sucks. I don’t see Ray going too much further in the competition sadly but what do I know.
There have been so-called frontrunners before who have made it to the live shows and fallen apart so we shall see how things end up
Novias was the best hands down!!
To revisit Chance’s decison (setting aside that Kala & Jamar were best):
= I get that he might imagine Sorelle has biggest fan following.
= After that, he is a black coach looking at Kala & 3 talented black artists–a hard call for him!
= But I suspect he tilted to Ray defensively to stick with his inconceivably poor choice of letting NOIVAS go earlier!
If you noticed what Chance said to Blake last night, he gave Noivas to Blake because it was the only chance that Noivas had to win the show. Obviously Blake is going to win with it being his last season and if Noivas has stayed on Chance’s team there was no way he could win, he has a good chance to win on Blake’s team.
My attention was divided; but . I thought he said something like that. Plus, with joking around, I was not sure how to take it. But it is true that black males have trouble in late round voting usually, apart from Chris Blue winning in ’21 with Alicia. So maybe the staff discussed it & influenced him. Something did,
Chance should have kept Kayla, and dropped Ray who hadn’t made enough impression on me to even know who he was. Kayla’s Funny Valentine was epic. I don’t even remember what Ray sang. Jamar got hosed.
The playoff pass thing was kind of a dud so far. I’d pretty much forgotten that it was even a thing, and only vaguely remembered the contestants. We’ll see how it works out next week, but I think they may need to go back to the drawing board on that one. It doesn’t seem to serve the show, or the contestants well as it is now.
I don’t know what the rush is, but both Idol and The Voice seem to have Game of Thrones syndrome; spend a long time getting everything in place, building teams and getting to the live rounds, then just rush through the end as if they have grown bored of the whole thing, and have somewhere else to be. They don’t, there’s a writers strike on. Being able to drag these shows out another month probably looks like a good idea to them right about now. The original versions of both games had much better pacing. Why can’t it just play out with a single elimination each week?? Why did we have to lose Kayla, Jamar, and maybe Rachel last night? And, it’s going to be just as ugly next week I’m sure. I am not a fan of the modern short attention span theater, nor a member of the instant gratification nation; I like a slow build of an-ti-ci-pation leading to the big moment. But, I’m old school that way.
You’re absolutely right. And it is very Game of Thrones. And I think it’s a lot of the same reason. Talent and cost. It’s easier and cheaper to not have live shows, and you can get the judges for a couple of weeks to do all the non-live stuff, then make them commit to the time of Live shows for a very short period. Then they can do what they want with the rest of the schedule. It also lets them fix the results a bit more. Though I don’t know how that will help; no one from the show has ever done anything. Like I said, it’s becoming liked the Masked Singer. Someone supposedly votes but you know it’s just the producer fixing it, and setting it to however the singer’s schedules fit. But at least that show has funny costumes and guess who they are to offset the singing competition. This show is all about the singing competition and they’re taking that part out of the show.
The cut from 5 to 2 was ridiculous. Why did they so dramatically cut the live shows? I am not a fan of My Funny Valentine so I am bad judge of that song. Grace sang the snot out of Love is Alive.
the fix is in. kala and jamal were extraordinary! sorelle was as well, but almost preordained.