Last night’s show (the top 8 performances) was terrific. This group seems to be more talent deep than last season. There were no performances that were bad, although there were a couple that were less than stellar.
I’m sorry, but all those emotionally laden songs that Christina Aguilera has Jacquie Lee sing are simply not convincing. She oversings them — perhaps brokenhearted subtlety is a little much to ask for from a sixteen-year old. Really. Even the show’s judges wondered what she was tapping into when she sang. Unlike me, they seemed moved by her performance.
Which brings me to the “Pat’s axiom about love songs”: the more extravagant the lyrics, the more calmly you need to sing them. Singing broken-hearted lyrics with full-throated exuberance just creates melodrama, which is in the end boring.
My man James Wolpert covered Queen, which was inevitable given how much he has spoken of Freddy Mercury as an influence. Unfortunately, he chose the one Queen song (“Somebody To Love”) that for personal reasons I have trouble listening to without wincing. (I could not bring myself to buy his version on iTunes, even though that means I did not vote for him.) I really wish he had chosen “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” instead. On the other hand, James did knock “Somebody to Love” out of the park — the tuxedos and standing on the piano were very showy. Over-the-top, in the way that Freddy would have loved.
TessAnne Chin was great channelling Gwen Stefanie on “Underneath It All.”. Ska is a good choice — it sounds more authentic from her than from No Doubt. Christina was happy; TessAnne allowed her Jamaican accent to show. Christina’s suggestion that TessAnne do “What a Girl Wants” next week is a good one, I hope Adam Levine takes her advice. (I do agree with People Magazine, for once — Adam Levine is really the Sexiest Man Alive. And the homoerotic playfulness (I really hate the word “bromance”) between Levine and Blake Shelton is in its own odd way pretty subversive for such a mainstream show — especially given that Shelton is a country singer.)
When Adam Levine gave Will Champlain “At Last” to sing, I shuddered. But, wow. I loved his version — a lot more raw than the seductive Etta James original (of course! no one is Etta James), but it worked. And as Christina said, it was cool hearing a guy do the song. (I did end up buying this one, although since I bought it after the voting window ended, it won’t count.)
Cole Vosbury was pleasant; Matthew Schuler was, sadly, boring. And Ray Boudreaux? Sorry, man, but you’re no Spencer Davis. Really. Which brings us to Caroline Pennell.
I was not wowed by her performance, but I loved the song, “Dog Days are Over.” So I have hunted up the Florence + The Machine original, and bought that. I discovered that the group had done a wonderful cover of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love,” and bought that as well. So once again, The Voice leads me to artists I never would have heard otherwise.
Digression: can I say once again how much I love the iTunes Store? It’s been around so long that it is easy to forget how great it is to be able to experiment and sample songs from different artists and genres without having to buy entire albums, or engage in piracy. I really do like to not trample on people’s intellectual property whenever possible.
As of the time I write this (2 pm Pacific, 5 pm Eastern) the iTunes standings are: Will, Cole, James, Jacquie, TessAnne, Caroline, Ray, and Matthew. My prediction, if this stands up and the bottom three are Caroline, Ray, and Matthew, is that Matthew will be saved via the new Twitter instant save. (Speaking of which, the Twitter instant save automatically disenfranchises the entire Western half of the country. We see the show on tape delay, not live — so the only people who get to vote are in the Eastern and Central time zones.) Matthew has been more consistent week to week, and people will still remember his “Hallelujah” of a few weeks back, which — typical coach hyperbole disregarded — may well have been one of the best performances on the show I’ve ever seen. It was so good that it went to number one on the iTunes singles chart, and three weeks after the fact remains on the iTunes singles chart, even above his performance this week.
We’ll see in about six hours.