Night 1 of the live playoff round on The Voice

A week ago this time, The Voice had 40 remaining artists.

Today, the show has 20. By the end of the week, the field will be whittled to 12.

Welcome to the show where the eliminations come fast and furious.

Tonight, we start the playoff round. All five singers from each team perform. The public votes.

Come Thursday, the two top finishers among the public vote will be declared safe.

My guess is that the other three artists will perform again. Their coach will get to save one of them.

Meanwhile, the coaches were asked in video interviews with Christina Millian to name an artist who had surprised them to this point.

Adam pointed to Loren Allred, calling her the most improved of his contestants. Blake pointed to Michaela Paige, the youngest singer still in the competition.

Cee Lo picked MacKenzie Bourg, and it appears he might play guitar for the second straight week. Christina pointed to Sylvia Yacoub, who might play piano.

I’ll be live blogging throughout tonight’s show and grading each performance as it occurs, so keep checking back.

And tonight we’ll be hearing from Team Blake and Team Adam.

But before we get down to solo performances, we’re treated to a group number. Most of the gals are sounding great. Terry McDermott sounds wonderful among the guys.

Team Adam

Joselyn Rivera: One of the two stolen contestants still standing on Team Adam. She sang Beyonce’s “Love on Top” in the knockout round to defeat fellow teen Kayla Nevarez. She’s singing “Give Your Heart a Break.” Joselyn took Adam’s advice to connect with the audience well. She was very engaging during a strong performance for the 17-year-old. That’s right folks, just 17. Yet she looked, oh, so confident. Really liked the tone of her voice on the verses, though her vocal got lost a little on the chorus. Grade: B.

Melanie Martinez: The teen with the two-toned hair sang “Bulletproof” during the knockout round, getting the better of Sam James. I’m still not sure she has topped her blind audition performance of “Toxic.” Melanie says she’s trying to find her sassy as she tackles “Hit the Road Jack.” The gal is adorable. And that style makes her one of the most unique contestants on this show. But, honestly, that version of the song was a bit sleepy, absent of special vocal moments. I’ve recently heard the Casey Adrams/Haley Reinhart version of the song, and they have no such problem. Grade: C+

Bryan Keith: One of the four-chair turn-around recipients way back in the blind auditions, Bryan sang “Everything I Do, I Do It for You” in the knockout round to defeat Joe Kirkland. The guy with the soul in his voice will sing “Iris.” He says he wants to make it easy for Adam to keep him, but is really hoping to get through on fan voting. The crowd is going wild over that performance. I wasn’t wild about it. Bryan’s voice soared at times, and he tried to amp up the energy in the song as much as he could, but I’m not sure a performance like that will win the show. He did look absolutely comfortable on stage, walking around, greeting fans. Grade: B-

Loren Allred: Last week was the first time we got to hear Loren sing, and she made it count, performing Amy Winehouse’s “I’m No Good” to defeat Nicole Nelson in the knockout round. She’s bringing sass to the live playoffs by singing “All Around the World.” Not thrilled with this song choice. Loren looks great and she’s doing a decent version of this song, but I’m not sure this is one of the performances people will remember at the end of the night, when the voting begins. That said, she’s certainly learned the singing show lesson about ending with a glory note. Grade: C+

Amanda Brown: Originally a member of Team Cee Lo, Amanda has turned in two straight outstanding performances. Most recently, she performed “Paris Ooh La La” to topple Michelle Brooks-Thompson in the knockout round. Hey, a former background singer won last year. Why not this year? She’s going to sing “Dream On.” Wow. The best song choice and the best vocal of the night. She was blistering the song throughout. Then she came to the closing shriek. I’ve watched lots of artists try to sing Aerosmith. She’s the first to ever pull off a Steven Tyler shriek! The first. Great job, Amanda Brown. Grade: A.

Team Blake

Terry McDermott: The veteran rocker turned to an old favorite — “Baby I’m Amazed” — to score a knockout round win over fellow rocker Rudy Parris. A strategic error — singing out of genre — hurt Rudy, but Terry was still quite impressive. Saying he still has the drive, the former lead singer of Driveblind will sing “Don’t Stop Believing.” Not sure this is the best match of singer and song, because Terry’s an excellent vocalist, but sounds like he’s straining on the opening verse. And, except for a couple of big notes, it never got much better. Grade: C

Liz Davis: The former P Diddy Starmaker winner unleashed a sassy version of “Gunpowder and Lead” during the knockout round. It was a song made famous by Blake’s wife and a performance good enough to earn her a win over Gracia Harrison, once hailed as the best female country singer the show had seen. The lone country singer still in the competition will sing “Independence Day.” That opening was nothing short of brilliant. And Liz looks lovely in the long flowing gown. I recall Blake saying Liz didn’t put enough energy into her battle round match. That certainly wasn’t a problem tonight. She sounded glorious on the chorus in particular. Grade: B+

Cassadee Pope: Her knockout round performance of “Payphone” wasn’t as impressive as her blind audition of “Toxic.” But she defeated Suzanne Choffel, one of the most talented singer-songwriters on the Team Blake roster and enters the live round with a huge Hey Monday following. She’s going to sing “My Happy Ending.” Speaking of brilliant openings, here comes Cassadee. Wow, and did her experience show? She just rocked the stage. Really like the tone of her voice, especially when she’s not going full throttle. That was just a fun, fun performance. Like Blake, I think she’s going to be around until the very end of this competition. Grade: A-

Michaela Paige: Sporting a mohawk and more stage presence than she should possess at 16, Michaela belted out “Love is a Battlefield” in the knockout round to defeat the much more experienced Collin McLoughlin. Blake tells Michaela her age doesn’t matter. She’s going to sing “Everybody Talks.” Question? How is it that Adam and Blake wound up with the two best unique contestants (Melanie and Michaela, respectively), instead of Cee Lo. Michaela is a fabulous performer, but she needs to work on her vocals. No doubt, she is a blast to watch. Cee Lo calls it the best performance of the night, but he’s forgetting this is called The Voice. Still she’s worth keeping around for sure. Grade: C+

Julio Cesar Castillo: Blake clearly sees something in Julio that I haven’t heard, because he couldn’t match Terisa Griffin or MarissaAnn vocally, yet was proclaimed the winner in both of those matchups. Here’s guessing he’ll need Blake on his side again this week to advance. Ha! Called this one. Julio excels at Mariachi music, so he needs to sing that because the last two efforts haven’t been that good. He’s going to sing “El Rey.” Well, Julio sounds better tonight. And he gets a standing ovation from at least a couple of coaches. Not sure that’s going to pull in the votes he’ll need to survive on Team Blake, but we’ll see.Grade: C-

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2 Responses to “Night 1 of the live playoff round on The Voice”

  1. Debbi says:

    Enjoyed the show, but was surprised at the audiences reaction to Julio. Obviously he has the Latin vote. I think he and Cassadee had the best reaction on Blake’s team. If I was picking I would say Terry and Liz will get saved by the public and Michaela would be my save. On Adam’s team, Brian and Amanda would get the public vote and Melanie would be my save.

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