‘The Voice’: Billy Gilman’s “Crying” & Ali Caldwell’s “Times Have Changed” Steal It
“It’s Decision 2016 here at The Voice,” Carson Daly announced during the Live Playoffs last night, with no hint of irony in his voice. No, he wasn’t talking about today’s presidential election, as “Decision 2016” is known in common parlance, but rather the first Live Playoff results. Equally important, right? (The world needs a sarcastic font in the worst way).
Anyway, Decision 2016, Jr. was a whirlwind on Monday (November 7) night that got through the 20 contestant performances, real-time voting, and eight eliminations that the show has spread over three nights/five hours in previous seasons. There wasn’t even time for coach banter between Miley Cyrus, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Alicia Keys, which was a nice and needed break from arguments in general.
Two contestants from each team were saved by votes, and one from each team received a coaches save. Here’s how the second most important vote of the week netted out:
Team Alicia: Christian Cuevas
Christian Cuevas is an easy frontrunner, and his emotional performance of “Yesterday” by the Beatles shows both control and strength. Alicia is on her feet after his performance…but then does the same thing for everyone else, making it more like a participation ribbon than a gold medal.
Team Alicia: Kylie Rothfield
Kylie Rothfield sticks to her rocker chick vibe, and sings “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones. While energetic, her performance is pitchy, she has some breath issues, and she is often drowned out by her backup band.
Team Alicia: Wé McDonald
Wé McDonald typically impresses, but her performance of Diana Ross’ “Home” doesn’t quite land. She has outstanding moments in the ambitious song, but misses some noticeable notes and has shaky runs.
Team Alicia: Josh Halverson
Team Alicia-turned Team Miley-turned Team Alicia’s Josh Halverson hits his stride singing Sam Cooke’s “Cupid.” His soulful performance is certainly not as ambitious as Wé’s, but very well executed.
Team Alicia: Sa’Rayah
Sa’Rayah swings for the fences with Etta James’ “I Would Rather Go Blind.” As always it’s very passionate and with a ton of wow factor, but there are some technical flaws as she navigates vocally acrobatic ad libs.
Team Blake: Dana Harper
Dana makes a departure from her mellow Knockout Round performance to sing Hall & Oates’ “Maneater.” It’s a bit like watching your fun aunt sing karaoke at a family reunion, but there are a few big notes toward the end.
Team Blake: Austin Allsup
Austin Allsup gives his core country fan base a treat with his strong performance of “I Ain’t Living Long Like This” by Waylon Jennings. Even those that aren’t a huge fan of the second coming of Craig Wayne Boyd have to admit the guy is a pro, and executes the vintage country tune masterfully.
Team Blake: Jason Warrior
It’s tough to turn a Drake rap into a belter, but damned if a Voice contestant doesn’t attempt it each and every season. The twice stolen Jason Warrior gives it a go with “One Dance,” working every inch of the room when he does. It’s fun, for sure, but it’s not the best showcase for his voice at this critical moment.
Team Blake: Sundance Head
Sundance Head brings the braided beard back for his performance of Keith Urban’s “Blue Ain’t Your Color.” He brings so much soul into the country song, and shows nerves of steel as he works through the ambitious choice.
Team Blake: Courtney Harrell
Oh, hey, Pretty Woman, heyyy! Courtney Harrell makes a throwback sings Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love.” She has some breath issues throughout and a few pitchy notes, but otherwise it’s a standout performance.
Team Miley: Sophia Urista
Sophia Urista gives the most fun performance of the evening by very earnestly singing Rod Stewart’s “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” The disco queen has the audience singing and dancing along during her performance, thus channeling the true essence of Rod.
Team Miley: Darby Walker
It’s clear that Darby Walker has a blast strutting around stage singing Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were The Days,” but her vocal acrobatics wear thin well before the last round of “la, la, la, las.” Miley loves it, though – perhaps because Darby has been instituting an WWMW (What Would Miley Wear?) policy on her own wardrobe choices, and who doesn’t love staring into a mirror?
Team Miley: Aaron Gibson
Really coming into his own, Aaron Gibson growls out “Round Here” by the Counting Crows. He really must have gargled some gravel to hold that high level of rasp the whole song, but it works in this performance. Now if only a little personality could shine through.
Team Miley: Belle Jewel
Former Team Alicia member Belle Jewel starts off strong in her performance of She sings Del Shannon’s “Runaway,” but it goes downhill the second she walks away from that mic stand. She has trouble staying in the pocket and staying on key (so…singing) and walking at the same time.
Team Miley: Ali Caldwell
The performance of the night comes from Ali Caldwell, who sings Irma Thomas’ “Times Have Changed.” From the very first falsettos in the beginning straight through the final powerhouse note, she belts the song to perfection.
Team Adam: Brendan Fletcher
Step right into the coffee shop for Brendan Fletcher’s performance of “To Love Somebody” by the Bee Gees (though probably closer to the Michael Bolton version). Like all of Brendan’s performances, it’s lovely, but never gets past a Starbucks compilation of covers level/
Team Adam: Simone Gundy
Simone Gundy strips down Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” and the results are beautiful. With her soulful voice front and center and some ad-libs to remind us what she can achieve vocally, it’s a powerful case to move her to the next round.
Team Adam: Josh Gallagher
A Knockout Round steal from Team Blake, Josh Gallagher gives Team Adam some country twang. He sings Zac Brown Band’s “Colder Weather,” and – while it’s not quite at the level that would make Adam’s dream of beating Blake with a country artist come true – it’s a strong performance.
Team Adam: Riley Elmore
Riley Elmore steps way out of his comfort zone to perform the second Drake cover of the evening. Just kidding! The crooner of course sticks with his wheelhouse and churns out a cover of Frank Sinatra’s “Luck Be A Lady.” You can only get so far by covering standard after standard…unless your name is Michael Buble.
Team Adam: Billy Gillman
Closing out the night is former Grammy nominee Billy Gillman, who sings Roy Orbison’s “Crying.” This could easily turn into the second season in a row with a former child star winner, as his performance is as polished as always, and more emotional than usual.
And the results are…
Voted Through by America: Team Alicia: Wé MacDonald, Christian Cuevas Team Blake: Sundance Head, Austin Allsup Team Miley: Aaron Gibson, Ali Caldwell Team Adam: Billy Gillman, Josh Gallagher
Coach Saves: Sa’Rayah (Alicia), Courtney Harrell (Blake), Darby Walker (Miley), Brendan Fletcher (Adam)
Going Home: Josh Halverson, Kylie Rothfield, Dana Harper, Jason Warrior, Sophia Urista, Belle Jewel, Riley Elmore, and Simone Gundy
A few surprises in there (Darby Walker, Miley? Really?), but all the obvious frontrunners like Wé McDonald, Billy Gillman, and Ali Caldwell are still going strong. The Top 12 compete next Monday (at a considerably less breakneck pace) with results announced on Tuesday.
Do you think the right contestants were voted through?