The Voice Season 22’s top 13 competed live Monday, and the stakes were high as they vied for spots in the top 10. Some of the contestants took risks that unfortunately didn’t pay off, while others disappointingly played it too safe. But one of this season’s biggest risk-takers, singularly named SoCal singer-songwriter Bodie, so completely transformed a Proclaimers ‘80s hit that his coach, Blake Shelton, proclaimed him a “visionary.”
“Once again, Bodie has taken a song that we all know and he's Bodie-izing it,” said Blake, after hearing Bodie’s drastic remake of the Benny & Joon-popularized Scottish jig/march “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).” When Blake warned, “You almost don't realize what song that is until you get to the chorus,” that didn’t bode too well (pun intended). But somehow, Bodie took what many skeptics would consider a novelty tune — but was actually Bodie and his wife’s wedding song — and made it keening, tender, jazzy, and sophisticated. Compare and contrast below:
“Sometimes in music, an artist comes along that's so different and brilliant that people miss it. Maybe it's over their head; maybe the timing is wrong. But then sometimes it happens like it's happening right now for you. People get it, they're connecting with it, and it's exactly what we all need,” Blake told Bodie. And I think Blake was right. Yep, I think Bodie is gonna be in the Season 22 finale.
Alas, two of this season’s other most interesting rebels, Kiqué and Eric Who, went ill-advisedly off-brand this week, delivering surprisingly bland performances that likely alienated their existing fans while earning them no new ones — thus clearing the way for another leftfield contestant, Devix, to become a new frontrunner. Below are the rest of Monday’s top 13 performances — the good, the bad, and the boring.
Kiqué (Team Gwen), “Superstition”
At first, Gwen Stefani nervously admitted that this Stevie Wonder hit — a classic, but also a totally overdone song on TV talent shows since American Idol Season 1 — was a “tall order.” But she seemed to have faith that Kiqué would put a fresh spin on it (“That’s kind of what he does,” she shrugged), since his radical reworkings of OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” and Harry Styles’s “As It Was” had been two of this season’s most creative and compelling performances. But… Kiqué didn’t do "what he does" tonight. Despite Camila Cabello insisting that he “made it his own” and Gwen saying he “tweaked it with his personality,” this cover was basic and by-the-book, more karaoke than Kiqué. I hope if he ends up in Tuesday’s Instant Save sing-off after this disappointment, he gets back in his zone. This “Superstition” might have brought him some bad luck.
Bryce Leatherwood (Team Blake), “Amarillo by Morning”
Bryce won the Instant Save last Tuesday, despite giving arguably the weakest performance among last week’s bottom four contestants, so he had a lot to prove this week — especially, as Blake noted, “George Strait is sacred ground for any country artist.” John Legend admitted he’s “no country expert” but thought Bryce delivered a “perfect execution” of Strait’s song, and self-described “proud stage mom” Blake, an actual country expert, praised Bryce’s “great, solid performance.” Blake told Bryce, “The position you were in last week, who knows how it happened, but that’s how you fix it.” I have a feeling Bryce won’t be jeopardy this week, but once again, he hardly reinvented the wagon wheel here. Risk-taking is not Bryce’s thing.
Devix (Team Camila), “R U Mine?”
I am fairly certain that I’ve never heard a Voice contestant (or any singing show contestant) cover an Arctic Monkeys song before — and this sexy, smoldering, swaggering Britrock banger was just the right showcase to help the sometimes shy and second-guessing Devix finally let loose. My one quibble with this otherwise awesome and visceral performance was Devix’s affected faux English accent — last time I checked, he’s from Queens, not Sheffield — but this was pretty killer nonetheless. John told Devix this was “the right song for who you are as an artist and vocalist,” and Camila raved, “You went superstar on this one!” Even former alt-rock KROQ DJ and current Voice host Carson Daly expressed his approval, saying, “Thank you for bringing back rock 'n' roll on The Voice — a sound and feel we’ve missed for a while.” I feel with this performance, Devix slipped into the maverick spot that Kiqué abdicated tonight.
Rowan Grace (Team Blake), “The Winner It Takes It All”
Blake saved this 17-old-old pop prodigy last week, which was a surprise — but at first I was glad he saved her, because that meant we’d get to hear one of my favorite ABBA songs on The Voice this week. But Rowan in no way conjured the heavenly harmonic magic of Agnetha and/or Anni-Frid. Forget about the fact that she clearly didn’t have the life experience to connect with a heartbreaking divorce song like this — the ballad was simply way too big for her, and she got so shouty towards the end. But John nicely praised the “graceful,” “supple,” and “subtle” aspects of Rowan’s voice, and Blake praised her “depth of knowledge of these old, cool songs that are classics.” Well, I agreed with that last part. But Rowan won’t be the winner that takes it all this season.
Omar José Cardona (Team Legend), “In the Name of Love”
Omar credited Martin Garrix and Bebe Rexha’s evangelical anthem for once helping him veer off the dark life path he was headed down, and I have to say, this was by far my favorite Omar performance of the season. It was refreshing to see him finally get out of his Rock of Ages ‘80s-schlock zone and be authentic. “My favorite part of that performance was seeing that emotion, that rawness in your face. … You're one of the most skillful singers in this whole season, but I think this was something I was really waiting on from you — that vulnerability, that messiness, that humanity. … I think it was really brave of you to share that with all of us tonight,” said Camila. “Your voice is so otherworldly that we forget you're human sometimes, and truly what I wanted people to feel was your heart today. And my God, Omar, this just unlocked another level,” said John. Carson even said this performance had “finale vibes.” Maybe John was right all along when he predicted that Omar would win Season 22.
Alyssa Witrado (Team Gwen), “Dreaming of You”
Gwen, Alyssa’s “motherly figure,” saved Alyssa last week, so Alyssa vowed to “step her game up a little more” to prove Gwen had made the right call. But all Alyssa did was tick off a lot of Selena fans and prove that Gwen should’ve saved Kevin Hawkins last week instead. Surely, Selena is also sacred ground to many, so this was another tall order, but Alyssa was not up for this challenge. The song seemed too low for her first, and she never recovered or got comfortable. Camila diplomatically complimented the teenager’s “energy” and “personality that overflows into all of your performances” but admitted, “Singing-wise, I think you have more learning and skills to learn.” Gwen praised Alyssa’s “spirit” and “something about you that's hard to even put into words,” then argued, “I think what people don't understand is sometimes a voice like yours has so many sides to it, and it's hard on live TV!” Yeah, no. This was not good.
Kim Cruse (Team Legend), “Always on My Mind”
The “Velvet Powerhouse” was more velvet than powerhouse this week, giving a masterfully, tastefully restrained performance that showcased a whole new side of her talent. “She’s picked the softest, most vulnerable song she could do, and I think it's actually a really smart, effective choice. She's shown us the soulful songs that make you stomp your feet, but this is a soulful song that's going to make you cry,” explained John. And the result was… more finale vibes! John had to save Kim last week, but I think she’ll get the votes she deserves this time around. “I'm pretty sure they heard that up in the heavens. … I hear some Elvis in there when you sing it, along with Willie [Nelson], but the truth is, when you sing it, it just becomes Kim,” said an impressed Blake.
Brayden Lape (Team Blake), “Come Over”
Sam Hunt was an appropriate choice for this small-town 16-year-old, and there’s no doubt that Brayden exudes star quality without even trying. Gwen told him, “You don't really have to do much, and that's rare.” I am pretty sure she meant that as a compliment, but I think Brayden did need to do a little more this week; this performance was a bit sleepy. I know Brayden is the youngest contestant left in the competition and still has a lot to learn, but he’s only a year younger than the amazing Parijita Bastola, so youth is no excuse at this point. I am sure he’ll be safe this week — and that, as Blake predicted, he has “a future in country music” — but if Brayden wants to make it to the finale, he needs to dig in deeper. Safe is not good enough.
Eric Who (Team Camila), “Can’t Help Falling in Love”
I was initially surprised by this flamboyant showman’s low-key song choice, but he explained that Elvis Presley’s “perfect love song” changed his life. “This song showed me the power of music and songwriting,” he said. “When I first heard the song, I was always envious of the lyrics. I never thought I would love somebody in a romantic way, which is a sad thing, but that's where I was. And then I found my first love. I sing the song differently now because I understand it.” Eric underwent a visual makeunder too, dyeing his Easter Egg hair back to brunette and sitting on a stool instead of fabulously tearing up the stage in a sharkskin suit. To be honest, I missed the old “Eric Who Show.” Who was this, indeed? And while Eric obviously thought he needed to do something this to be taken more seriously by America, the vulnerable, pared-down performance drew attention to all of his vocal shortcomings. I don’t think voters will fall in love with this side of Eric. “The Eric Who Show” is about to get canceled.
Morgan Myles (Team Camila), “If I Were a Boy”
OK, this the right way to do stripped-down and vulnerable! The country-rock “truth-teller” ditched her guitar and started off all slow and hushed… and then she let it rip, ramping up the intensity as she channeled all her raw anger over trying to survive in the male-dominated country music industry into her rootsy remake of Beyoncé’s ballad. And the crowd went absolutely wild. “I'm so happy for you right now! I feel like you picked the perfect song to kind of define you as an artist. … Your vocals were absolutely ridiculous, but also with your stage performance and everything you did tonight, it all came together,” gushed Gwen. “You're inspiring so many young women that are watching this right now with your story,” Camila added, beaming.
Parijita Bastola (Team Legend), “All I Ask”
Once again, I suggest that singing show contestants practice extreme caution when approaching Adele’s catalog. But Parijita’s supportive coach thought she could handle this Melissa Manchester-style track frrom 25 — despite only being 17 — and he was right. She sang this song liked she’d lived this song! Everyone in the audience was moved, even the usually stoic Blake, who told her, “You are easily one of my favorites in this competition that isn't on my team. You know what? Screw that! You're one of my favorites in this competition, period.” I think she’ll be a favorite with viewers too. John said Parijita’s voice was “technically amazing” as well as emotionally resonant, explaining, “The way you go back and forth between your head voice and your chest voice and your vibrato is so comfortable and easy and gorgeous. What a beautiful vocal performance. It was really, really wonderful.”
Justin Aaron (Team Gwen), “Break Every Chain”
“It’s hard to believe Justin was a one-chair turn — and he now has all four coaches on their feet,” Carson noted after Justin was finished with this gauntlet-throwing, game-changing gospel tour de force. John definitely expressed regret that he hadn’t turned for Justin, and Gwen was gloating through her happy tears. “Oh my gosh! I can't believe it! You did it! You took it to the next level. And it was so beautiful. It was so moving and so unbelievable... I can't even speak, I'm so in awe of you. I'm so excited to be able to be part of this with you,” Gwen declared. Justin went big — and he won’t go home.
So now, it is prediction time. On Tuesday’s live results show, four contestants will land in the bottom, with three going home after the real-time, audience-voted Instant Save sing-off. I feel certain that Alyssa, Eric, and Rowan will be at risk, but sadly, that fourth chopping-block spot could very well go to Kiqué. Tune in then, as the top 13 become the top 10.
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