11 Best (and Worst) Moments From ‘The Voice’ Top 6 Performances (Guest Blog)

A Season 2 alum, I blog about the NBC talent competition weekly for TheWrap

I hope you all survived the annual food carnage of Thanksgiving. There's no time to mourn your skinny jeans, because we have only six contestants left on NBC's “The Voice,” and they sang their hearts out for you this week. Each singer did a coach's choice and a special dedication (of their own choosing). It's a lot of music, so take some antacid and let's chat about my highlights (and lowlights) from last night's episode (in no particular order).

1. Merry early Christmas to me!
Cole Vosbury tickled the heartstrings of America last night by performing “Rich Girl” from Hall & Oates, an American classic. Listen, I love Cole already. I think he's likeable and cool, but adding Hall & Oates to the equation just took my love of him over the top. He was a fantastic way to start the show, and I hope voters tuned in early enough to feel the power of Hall & Oates.

2. Channeling emotions through fashion
Coach Cee Lo Green was sporting some kind of melancholy bathrobe on Monday. I feel like he's working out a few sad feelings via fashion, and I get it. I miss Caroline Pennell too. Unicorn hearts are still heavy over that loss.

Also read: ‘Blacklist’ Faces First Test Without ‘The Voice’ Jan. 13

3. The potency and the power of Tessanne
The best overall performances of the night would have to go to Tessanne Chin – and I say “performances” because she was equally wonderful on both her songs. “Redemption Song” was moving and emotionally connected, and I was especially impressed by her rendering of Katy Perry since we all know Katy Perry productions are something not found in nature but rather painstakingly constructed in a studio environment. Then again, Tessanne's voice is not found in nature. She breathed crazy life into “Unconditional,” and I hope it's enough to take her to the Top 5.

4. Love songs on the coast
OK, you guys, I get doing special dedications. It's a sweet idea, but I will admit these were a little uncomfortable. The one that felt the most authentic was the one that was also the most awkward (Will's), because authentically? Doing a special dedication is awkward unless you're a regular caller to Delilah.

5. Hits vs. misses
There were a lot of hits but also a couple of misses this week – most specifically Matthew Schuler's song selections. I think Matthew is incredibly talented, but he needs room to soar, and “The Story of My Life” didn't give him that room (much of it was too low in his range). On the other side of the coin, “When a Man Loves a Woman” was a bigger song but also too bluesy for his voice, so he couldn't really relax comfortably into it. Ill-fitting song choices were part of what sent Caroline home last week, and I hope Matthew doesn't fall victim to the same fate.

Also read: Kelly Clarkson to Perform New Holiday Single on ‘The Voice’

6. TMI with Carson Daly
Thanks to Carson Daly, we now know that coach Blake Shelton sends e-mails to the other coaches while pooping. Wow, these audience questions are dope! I'm so glad they're doing this.

7. Best Musicianship
If this was a pageant, and I could give out awards, the banner for “Best Overall Musicianship” would go to Will Champlin. While neither of last night's performances hit the high marks of “At Last,” they were still solid efforts that showcased his diversity as a singer and multi-instrumentalist. His piano playing on “A Change Is Gonna Come” was particularly impressive, and “Hey Brother” was probably my favorite current song performed this week. The last person I saw handle a banjo with such finesse was Dolly Parton (Dolly: Call me!)… I'm thinking America should keep him on, so I get more Will and MORE BANJO!

8. “Finding The Voice Within” with host Christina Aguilera
I would like this to be a real show with Christina where we hang out on comfy couches and talk about our feelings and find our voice within and stuff. I could definitely see Jacquie Lee dig deeper for her fiery performance of “Cry Baby” because of Christina's gentle wisdom. Imagine her using that same technique on all of us Oprah style – “You can definitely finish that PowerPoint presentation. I know it. Now you have to know it!” How great would that be?

Also read: ‘The Voice’ Top 8 Results: Did America Use Its Instant Save on the Right Person? (Video)

9. Weird and wonderful
James Wolpert is a little odd and a lot awesome, and this week's songs fit his aesthetic to a tee. His stripped down “Fell in Love With a Girl” had a snarling intensity no one else duplicated, and “I Would Do Anything for Love” was my favorite performance this week – wonderfully over the top and bombastic and a great showcase for his vocal ability. Watch it again above. P.S. If this is how he sounds under the weather, he should consider staying under the weather.

10. “The Voice's” Music Education Series
Cee Lo made a good point about “The Voice” educating its artists and audience on the classics. This week, we were treated to Bob Marley, Janis Joplin, Sam Cooke, Percy Sledge and most importantly – Hall & Oates. Not bad!

11. To all the girls I've loved before
Hey ladiessss, Cole Vosbury's “Better Man” may have been dedicated to his first love, but really? This was all for you. Please do enjoy.

Also read: ‘The Voice’ Taps OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder as In-House Producer and Songwriter

If you live in LA, come see my holiday show Tuesday at The Hotel Cafe! We have some very special guests (including a fellow Team Adam member) plus tinsel, Antonio the Reindeer and bubbles. You can also download my brand new holiday single on iTunes and everywhere digital music is sold (see the video below)! Christmas music is MY JAM.

Don't forget to check out my album “In & Out of the Dark,” which is now available on iTunes. For more updates, follow me on Twitter at @katrinapmusic and visit my website, www.katrinaparker.com.

  • David Perkins

    The one thing that's perfectly clear about Season 5 of The Voice is that the likely winner remains perfectly unclear.

    In order to lose at this stage of the competition in Season 4, Danielle Bradbery would've had to poke Carson in the eye and shout expletives at the TV audience. She was THAT far ahead. At this time in Season 3, Cassadee Pope was well on her way to building a big lead. Not so in Season 5. It's way too close to call.

    Who would've thought.. So far, only three of the Top 6 have managed to put songs in the Top 10 on the big iTunes chart — Will, James and Matthew. It's entirely possible that two of them — Matthew and James — will need Tweeters to save them tonight. And, in the five weeks since the live shows began, no single artist has charted highest on iTunes more than once. That's five separate iTunes ‘winners’ in five weeks! Hey, variety…spice of life.

    I suspect that the Top 5 will be Cole, Tessanne, Will, Jacquie and somebody else. But, the only really safe bet is ‘somebody else.’ One other safe bet: the Instant Save is going to make a lot of people really, really angry this week.

    • Katrina Parker

      Isn't it kind of nice to have the element of surprise back in the mix though? I think that wild card element has been missing for me a little the last 2 seasons. I'm enjoying it immensely.

      I don't know about James being in the bottom 2 – I'd be surprised to see him there after last night. The reaction I saw on Twitter for him was overwhelmingly positive…but as we've seen before, anything can happen!

      • David Perkins

        Yeah, surprise is a good thing. And I suppose the additional drama doesn't hurt the show's ratings. But, I wonder if the missing groundswell of support for any single artist translates to a lack of real excitement about all of them. Isn't it possible that the absence of a frontrunner (or two) means that viewers are kinda ‘ho hum’ about all of them?

        • CeCe1

          “Isn't it possible that the absence of a frontrunner (or two) means that viewers are kinda ‘ho hum’ about all of them?” Bingo!

      • Jean Boyd

        I'm a fan of James but last night he was not very good

        • Katrina Parker

          Last night during results? or Monday night? I thought he was great Monday!

  • David Perkins

    As it turns out, my imperfect power ranking system was fairly perfect this week — something of a miracle in this very close race. Looking ahead to next week's double elimination, some things need to happen. 1. James must have two spectacular performances (and ideal song choices) that will get him out of the bottom two. 2. Jacquie needs at least one huge hit. I currently have Jacquie fourth in this very close race, so she needs something of a burst. (Song choices, Christina!) 3. Tessanne and Will are neck-and-neck for the second and third spots, so both will need to hang on to make the finals. They can't cruise, of course, but they'll have to survive Jacquie's challenge. (Song choices, Christina!) 4. Cole, by the length of a few whiskers, is this week's frontrunner. If Cole knocks one into the iTunes Top 10 next week, he could find himself just far enough ahead to win. Seriously? A fourth win for Team Blake? Sure, why not. As always, anything can happen — especially in this surprising season.

  • Nelson Pawlak

    Will just squeaked by this week but should have easily gotten through had he not been set up to fail. This guy has the best pipes on the show and is a great musician to boot. He can win if the judges (including Adam) will lay off the compliments laced with subtle digs when they're asked about his performances. Let the voters decide who's the best without being swayed by a judges favoritism and or popularity right? It's become who is the most popular judge now and the contestants talents comes second in the votes. Adam's favorite is obviously James who is a Freddie Mercury clone but lesser vocally and has become overrated especially by Adam. Tessanne has great pipes but Adam is lobbying for a reggae revival in America because he's working on a reggae album now or something and his song choices will ruin her chances soon. Christina is destroying Jacquie's shot to win with her bad coaching, self admiration, and self comparisons to the poor kid. Jacquie is going to hurl a lung if she keeps belting out those Christina inspired power notes. Cole is a likeable munchkin but mediocre in the remaining pack and is still in it because of Blake's popularity and Celo's newfound support since he blew it with his own remaining contestants and now needs to bolster his ego by taking credit for choosing Cole in the first place. Uh Celo, do you remember dumping the kid too? There should be a talent show judged without “CELEBRITY JUDGES” and their egos on the air and the right contestants might actually win for a change.

    • David Perkins

      Thanks for the rant. This unique, rational blog site has been absent of inane drivel for way too long. You forgot to include something like ‘I'm never watching this show again.’ Otherwise, it was perfect. Thanks again.

      • Nelson Pawlak

        Thanks for the vent. The only inane drivel on this blog I see is your inept response to someone finally speaking the truth about the show. Otherwise it was perfect. Thanks again.

    • Katrina Parker

      I hear you on Will…I saw Adam's comment less as a dig and more as restraint. Will is amazing but also vocally wild, and I think that's Adam's way of acknowledging that – he doesn't always nail the things he goes for, but the fact that he goes for them is part of what makes him such a great vocalist. However, I wish they would apply that same honest critique (or restraint) to all the contestants equally. Then we would have some more authentic moments during the coach feedback. I do agree it's weird when it's only directed at 1 or 2 contestants.

      I'm going to have to agree to disagree with you on James. I don't always love the song choices they come up with for him (and he can be vocally wild as well – especially in his upper range), but I think he has a beautiful voice. :)

      • Nelson Pawlak

        Well Katrina. I guess it's the ‘half empty half full’ scenario re compliments vs insults here but it's not been Adam's nature to be so picayune towards any of his own contestants that have been finalists before. This behavior seems to support the theory he's chosen his favorite and wants to sway votes away from Will. I agree James has a good voice but so did Freddie Mercury who it's impossible not to compare him to and Freddie was much better. My theory is if you're going to impersonate someone do it equally as well or better if you want the glory. James comes close but no cigar and I'm afraid Will is more talented all around (including the best pipes). I guess we'll see what the voters do next week. :D

    • CeCe1

      Let's be honest here. Who would watch a singing competition without “celebrity judges”? No one! The very thing that sets The Voice apart from other such shows (Idol and X Factor) are the personalities, talent and rapport between these judges. Why do you think all these shows have such a hard time finding good judges? Sure, David Foster would undeniably be someone any potential competitor would want to have constructive criticism or guidance from but the general public has no idea who he is. He lobbied hard to be a judge on Idol and in spite of his power in the music world he has never been asked. And The Voice has garnered an Emmy solely because they have nailed the format and the right judges and especially the right host.

      Personal taste clearly factors in the judging when it comes to the public (and the judges) but I think everyone forgets that whoever wins should be able to attract fans not just from one or two iTunes downloads but as a stage performer. Those “star” quality chops are in rare display in this year's contestants, in my opinion.

      It's impressive that Will can play many instruments and is obviously very dedicated to his craft but the guy looks terrified on stage. It's almost difficult to watch him. He's also so much in his head that I don't feel we've ever seen a genuinely emotive performance from him–one where he truly gets lost in the song.

      Tessane definitely has the “best pipes” in this class and she's also a seasoned performer so by rights, she should win but I doubt she will just because the general public probably feels she's “too old” and can't really relate to her Jamaican vibe.

      James belongs on Broadway. That is the only arena in which his range of talent could really be appreciated simply because his personality (what personality, you say?) could grow inside other characters. I just don't see him commanding a stage as a solo vocal performer.

      Cole has a great coffee house voice and personality. Maybe if we knew what he looked like out from under all that hair there might be a chance he would become more exciting on stage but I don't think that fire is in his soul.

      I agree with Nelson about Christina being too caught up in trying to make Jacquie into her own image. She's not vocally ready for all those high notes and runs. I find a lot of her singing to sound more like screaming…she almost loses real tone at times…not pleasant to listen to. She has a very good instrument but needs more time to grow up and to know where her lane will be.

      No idea who will win but I really wish Judith Hill was back this year. Now THERE was a star!

      • Nelson Pawlak

        CeCe1 I hear you and you're correct that a show without celebrities wouldn't make it to prime time but that still doesn't justify voters voting for their favorite judges contestant or their favorite judges opinion as one of the deciding factors. I know iTunes helps but the points I just mentioned still sway the outcome of iTunes sales. I'd say the shows format ‘semi-works’ but that's stretching it. Prime time is desperate for viewers and Emmy's come easily now that there are so few good shows left on television. All in all we seem to have similar views regarding the contestants and I agree, Will is a bit squirrely to say the least and looks like a cross between Woody Allen and a deer in the headlights, but this is The Voice not Chorus Line. Look at Joe Cocker and Janis Joplin for example. Both were pretty homely and freaking scary to watch but still remain two of the best loved voices in the history of music. Let's see if voters can get past bad appearances and realize Will's talents are the best on the show. Fame came to some of our ‘not so pretty’ greats and this guy deserves it too. :D

        • CeCe1

          Nelson, I'm not sure how you can be so sure that voters take anything the judges say into account when they vote. I don't think the iTunes evidence, for example, supports that theory. More likely is the fact that everyone these days has an opinion, think they're right, and can't wait to voice it (like we're doing here…ahem).

          Back in the day of Joe Cocker and Janis’ success they weren't in the media because there wasn't any media so people learned to love their voices long before they got to see them. I personally think it's a shame that our society is so looks driven but sadly that's human nature. For decades now performers (no matter the genre) have been judged not just by their talent but by how they communicate across the footlights.

          It will be interesting to see who does win, won't it, and thanks for the insightful conversation.

          • Nelson Pawlak

            Well CeCe1 I guess this subject could be debated forever but ask yourself if you've ever been guided by someone's opinion you admire? I'm pretty sure your answer will be yes so the judges (who have tons of fans) can and do effect votes to an extent. As far as CC and JJ well in those days artists toured their butts off and popularity came more from ‘experiencing’ them than songs on the radio, so I think most of their fans knew exactly what they were getting. You're right about looks affecting popularity today but I think that's actually been lessening over the past few years as we're seeing less attractive people on commercials, shows, and recording artists. Perfect example… Celo ha ha.

  • Deleta Burnett

    Thank you Nelson. Your comment is so true and honestly written.