The Thrill Is Gone? 'The Voice' Top 12 Revealed — With One Big Omission
Someone is missing here... [photo: Valerie Macon/Getty Images]
"The Voice" Season 6 Playoffs wrapped Tuesday night with semifinals performances by Team Usher — meaning that now, finally, we have our top 12 headed to the Live Playoffs that begin next week.
It's a bit of a bummer, after so many weeks of Blind Auditions, Battle Rounds, more Battle Rounds, and non-live Playoffs, that the live shows will only go on for five weeks — with double eliminations every week between now and the finale. But you know what else is a bummer? When Usher made his decision this Tuesday as to which three contestants to send to those live shows, he made one glaring omission.
Sure, this was a tough call; with really no weak links on Usher's team, it was inevitable that he'd be sending home two great vocalists, even if he drew their names out of his raccoon hat. But maybe he should have pulled names out of a hat. Because then, maybe, Stevie Jo would have stayed.
Sorry for the spoiler only three paragraphs in. But yes, Stevie sang B.B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone" this Tuesday, and the song turned out to be prophetic…because now, well, he is gone. Gone too soon. And that's a shame. While Stevie wasn't the overall best singer among Usher's five semifinalists (that would be — here's another spoiler alert — Josh Kaufman), he was definitely the most interesting.
And that's my biggest beef with this "Voice" season: the lack of, for lack of a better word, "interestingness." Season 2 had Jamar Rogers, who mixed alternative rock and R&B in an inventive way, and Juliet Simms, a Warped Tour punk/glam goddess who once performed wearing angel wings. Season 3 offered an abundance of interesting-contestant riches: ethereal girl Melanie Martinez, Britrocker Terry McDermott, cool cat Nicholas David, "bam bam" showman Cody Belew, and another rock 'n' soul powerhouse, Amanda Brown. Season 4 starred the ultimate quirky girl, Michelle Chamuel, who went all the way to the finale. And last season had beardy folkster Cole Vosbury, nerdy theatrical rocker James Wolpert, flamboyant glitter girl Kat Robichaud, et al.
Where are the contestants like that in Season 6? I wouldn't say the thrill is totally gone this season — there's still plenty of great singing to be enjoyed — but with the exception of a couple of possible freak-flag-fliers (Kristen Merlin, Delvin Choice), the quirk and element of surprise seem to be gone, for sure.
Read on for a full recap of Team Usher's performances, as well as an assessment of where all four teams' contestants, interesting or not, stand.
T.J. Wilkins – T.J. can certainly sang, but since he's such a young guy, it's bizarre to me how old-fashioned he comes across. There's a difference between being retro in a cool way (examples: Ryan Shaw, Van Hunt, Pharrell's "Happy") and retro in a cabaret way, and T.J. unfortunately falls into the latter category. T.J. certainly didn't youth it up for his performance of Rufus & Chaka Khan's "Tell Me Something Good." His vocal was on point (which is commendable, considering how difficult Chaka songs are to sing), but this didn't sound like something fans would hurry to download on iTunes. I'm still trying to figure out T.J.'s place, not just on this show, but in the actual pop market. But maybe the coaches have that all figured out. Shakira liked how "soulful and committed" T.J. was. Adam Levine called T.J. a "breath of fresh air." Blake Shelton, who hadn't agreed with Usher's decision to keep T.J. over Biff Gore in the Battle Rounds, said, "I'm on board now." And Usher told T.J., "You reminded us of the careless, free nature of that time [in the '70s]." I guess Usher thought T.J. was retro in a cool way.