Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 5, Episode 16 of NBC's "The Voice" titled "The Final 12 Compete"
Last week's eliminations felt like a very public breakup with eight of the singers we've all come to love. Monday night's episode of "The Voice" was like a perfect date with some pitch-perfect songs to swoon over.
How can we rank these? Who will you choose? Let me know who you're voting for in the comments -- frankly, if I had tried to vote (I don't, in a nod to fairness), I'd probably have mashed my fingers all over the keypad in frustration. Picking won't be easy. I've ranked them, but I'm open to your opinions. Let me know (nicely) what you think I got wrong.
I was wrong about Cole Vosbury. I said this guy was probably going home. I questioned whether a guy singing "The Jeffersons" could survive on this show. I was wrong about him and I'm admitting it. To take a smooth, crooning, gem like "Adorn" and ... just embody it completely, being a white guy with a beard ... that doesn't happen. This was Cole's idea. And it's genius. And listen to that gentle falsetto. Unlike most of his competitors, he doesn't need to overpower the song to show how loud and long he can sing. Cole Vosbury sang this song like a lover, groaning through those lines with actual passion. Get this guy a tour, I'll buy a ticket.
It's almost unfair to the other contestants to let this guy sing a song like "Hallelujah Chorus." Of course, all the honor and respect goes to Leonard Cohen for penning it, John Cale for originally covering it and Jeff Buckley for showing us what was possible. The YouTube comments are debating over whether Schuler sang it better than other contestants on "The Voice."
The last time we heard this song was after Newtown:
I think Schuler kept and protected the "Hallelujah" flame. Like a boxer, he's smart enough to know when he needs a knockout punch, and when to lean back on his heels and wait for the pounce. It's also worth noting how quiet the crowd gets while he sings. Schuler commands a respect that few else in that room but the judges could demand. And he's so joyous when he sings. It's almost religious.
DId you hear how well she sang when she was crowd-surfing on her back? Did you hear that vibralto? Kat Robichaud is kind of like the Alice Cooper of "The Voice." She's a total spectacle. She probably has no mainstream potential, and who cares, because Kat's a madwoman with a voice like an operatic demon. She's a total animal, prowling around the stage. And anyone who's heard the AWOLNATION original version of this song knows how much more Kat put in this song than what was actually there.
Ringer. Seriously. What else are you supposed to say about this woman? But honestly, I've been feeling like Tessane needs to switch something up. She's kind of like Mariah Carey, but if Mariah Carey only sang "Vision of Love." Or if Whitney only sang "I Will Always Love You." Yeah, those are the tracks we remember. But Mariah made it through her career on the Hip-Hop charts, too -- "Honey" was just as much a #1 hit as "Vision of Love." For every ballad on The Bodyguard soundtrack, Whitney had a dance song like "Queen Of The Night." I know this sounds like I'm going nowhere. Can Tessanne do lighthearted? Can she perform a fun song that isn't rife with emotion? What is she like singing a dance tune? I'm not sure. As good as she is, this performance still seemed safe to me.
ROCK STAR. James Wolpert sang "Mr. Brightside" -- and he SANG it. He found the energy I've been missing from him since his "Love Interruption" blew me away in the finals. Surprisingly, this is a really hard song to sing -- when something is this monotone, making those repetitive notes sound this dynamic is a challenge. Adam lost it for James, who ended up on his knees! He gave it all for this performance, and you could tell by the screams from the audience that they felt it.
Some fans say she screeches. I say the ghosts of Amy Winehouse and Janis Joplin are clinking their drinks together in a heavenly toast as they watch this girl sing. What's so cool about Jacquie is that she doesn't rein in the power of her voice to sound sexy or less threatening or violent. Other people might not dig it, but I find that raw talent so much more compelling. "Love Is Blindness" was an amazing song choice for her -- but Christina said she wanted Jacquie to demonstrate she could sing something current and chart-worthy. I really don't see Jacquie making a career on Third Man Records with Jack White.
Yes! Emotive Austin Jenckes sang an upbeat song! What a great choice Travis Tritt's "It's A Great Day To Be Alive" was for his warm, throaty, bourbon-coated voice. He even closed his lids and smiled in the mic when he sang the line, "the sun's still shining when I close my eyes." He's never been so lovable on this show. Austin, I'm so proud of you.
Caroline has had more eccentric choices than any front-runner I can remember on "The Voice." I don't think the pace of this Avicii song suited our sweet high school songbird. And while she faltered in the ends of some of her lines, and didn't bring that enchantment she gives us on slow songs, I still think it was a solid performance with some really interesting ad-libs. It's nice to see her sing something that doesn't sound like a lullaby. Her voice still bounces so prettily off those high notes -- and given her popularity so far, I don't expect to see her going home.
You know this guy's got a lot of confidence. He sang Stevie Wonder, and tonight, Josh dusted off "Man In The Mirror." The soulful faux Gospel feel of this Michael Jackson tune really suited his voice perfectly -- and he nailed that key change perfectly! Still, this was a by-the-numbers MJ impression -- and I think Cole's example has to make everybody do better. Plus, Josh better watch out -- people keep saying this dude looks like Pitfull, and I don't know how that's going to bode for voting. The judges said he spent too much time with the backup singers, and that's also worrying -- I just don't know if Logan has star quality.
Happy Veteran's Day, Jonny Gray. Honestly, Phil Collins seems like James Wolpert's kind of singer, so I thought this was a really weird choice for Jonny. I think even Jonny thought it was a weird choice for Jonny. I loved the way he ad-libbed at the end -- though those sob-story additions usually drive me nuts, it touched me when Jonny said during rehearsals that "Another Day In Paradise" reminded him of childhood, when his dad wasn't around and his mom always put raising the kids first. I think it took him halfway into the performance to turn on that cocky, devil-may-care rocker I'm convinced lives inside Jonny Gray. The audience clapping off-beat didn't help him out. Crowd, go back to your weird arm-waving ways if you can't handle clapping.
The song was called "Demons," but I think Will's performance stopped short of full-out possession. He really didn't have the range to take this Imagine Dragons song where it needed to go (just imagine Matthew Schuler singing it). His voice is still so beautiful and round on the lower notes. The last third of the song has some problems, but I feel like we're nitpicking these singers at some point.
Snooooze. What happened to the swamp pop? Instead, Ray's saddled with a John Legend tune that put me half to sleep. This sounds like a song kids dance to at homecoming. Yeah, he was a little flat, but that's not even the issue. I'm a little upset on Ray's behalf. Let this boy sing some Hank Williams. Give him an R&B song with a pulse. Hell, at least let him sing "Walking In Memphis." This ain't right.
Get ready to see who America keeps and who is going home Tuesday night at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.