The Voice Recap: Eight Too Proud to Beg
The Voice‘s all-star coaches are, generally speaking, a gentle, encouraging, and decidedly articulate bunch. And if you perused a transcript of their comments from tonight’s telecast, you’d probably think it was business as usual on Season 3 Top 8 performance night.
But tone of voice, facial expression, body language, coded wordplay…sometimes they tell a different story. And with only eight singers left in the competition, the subtext was often as poorly hidden as Christina Aguilera’s décolletage.
There was Xtina herself practically sighing and rolling her eyes while telling the incredible Amanda Brown she’d given “another really dynamic and powerful performance.” (How dare she!) There was Adam Levine admitting Freddie Mercury songs expose all his vocal weaknesses, the subtle implication being that “Somebody to Love” had done the same to Cody Belew. And there was everybody awkwardly hurling potshots at Melanie Martinez’s soon-to-be-ex boyfriend, while not really saying anything about her actual singing. (Hey, Voice judges, did you ever stop and think that the target of your collective, televised disdain is most likely a teenage boy? #TheMoreYouKnow)
Fret not, though, Top 8 performance night also had plenty of conspicuous craziness, too. Nicholas David revealed he never cuts his beard while his wife is pregnant, and oh, she’s due to have their third child in February. (For the record, Christina Milian is totes okay with the David family not finding out the baby’s gender before it’s delivered. I’m sure they’re all relieved. “Heyyyyy, what’s uuuuup Carson? Trending on Twitter. Oh my God! Sexy side. Sprint lounge. Hashtag!”) Cassadee Pope thinks of Blake Shelton as her crazy uncle. 50 Cent still exists! And Carson Daly gets aroused in the unlikeliest of situations: “I was watching Terry [McDermott] and his wife make out. That’s good TV!”
While you try to get that sound bite out of your ear with a Q-tip, let’s grade the night’s solo performances:
Amanda Brown: Adele’s “Someone Like You” | The phrase “made it your own” has been used so many times on reality singing competitions that it’s as expected and meaningless as “but wait, there’s more!” at the end of an infomercial. And yet that’s exactly what Amanda did with one of the decade’s most omnipresent ballads. By heeding Adam Levine’s advice to kick the song’s ass, to give it a pulsating rock arrangement and a wild, defiant vocal, Amanda conjured up not just a different sound, but also an entirely different set of emotions than Adele. Whereas the original is about the pain and acceptance of true love lost, Amanda’s cover hinted at defiance, perhaps even a hope that the “for me, it isn’t over” might be a two-way street. I loved the little bit of stank Amanda gave to the line “guess she gave you things I couldn’t give to you,” and the boiled bunny angst with which she infused “don’t forget me!” This is no knock on Adele’s original — not at all — because just like with the Sherlock Holmeses of Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr., there’s room to adore ‘em both. I just wish Carson had pressed Adam for an explanation when he said how he and his fellow coaches were extra hard on Amanda because they expect so much from her. Um, shouldn’t the bar be set just as high for everyone else in the Top 8? Grade: A
Nicholas David: Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” | There’s no one cooler in the competition than “the spiritual soul singer from Minnesota,” and not just because he can rock pigtails, a leather pimp jacket and plaid pants, but also because he remains calm and poised in the face of Christina Milian’s inanity and tells his fans to “keep it together.” The thing about Nicholas is that his song choices and arrangements are probably never going to be crazy innovative, but he’ll still manage to surprise you just by virtue of his gorgeous tone and absolute pitch perfection. I liked how he put almost a rap-style swag on the phrase “we don’t need to escalate,” and the way he effortlessly reached into his upper register on “father, father.” The man knows the capabilities and outer limits of his voice better than Kim Kardashian knows the number to her publicist. Groovy! Grade: A-