‘The Voice’ Recap: The Top 12 Perform

"The Voice": Jacquie Lee (Photo: NBC)

The race to the finish on “The Voice” has officially begun. We have finally reached finals, and the Top 12 battle each other, rather than team against team. Two will go home this week, but only after the East Coast audience has a say as to which contestant in the bottom three may stay with the Twitter-based “Instant Save.” Cool, but a little unfair to those viewers on a three-hour time delay in Cali, no?

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Anyway, it’s drilled into our brains that once and for all, WE have the power. Of course, we’ve earned it, after many weeks of patiently waiting to get to this point.

Was the wait worth it? Well, duh, of course it was! There were a few outstanding performances Monday night, solidifying the leads of the already-front-runners. Those would be Team Xtina’s Jacquie Lee and Matthew Schuler, Team Adam’s Tessanne Chin, and Team Cee Lo’s Caroline Pennell. Also dabbling extremely close to front-runner land is Team Blake’s Cole Vosbury.

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The Awesome

Jacquie Lee sailed into finals with the distinction of being the absolute front-runner after last week’s crazy performance of “I Put a Spell on You.” This week, she youngs it up with Jack White’s “Love is Blindness.” It is still crazy. She actually found a way to scream “I’m so sick of it!” and stay in tune AND make it pretty all at once.

Matthew Schuler went a different way than Jacquie, song-wise, and did Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah.” It’s one of the most overdone TV competition songs these days, sadly, ‘cause it’s practically holy. Overlooking that flaw about the performance, the rest of it was fantastic. Matthew sounds so beautiful on his high notes, and does a really nice high one toward the end. Adam Levine tells him he’s now surpassed Jacquie for front-runner status. Either way, Christina Aguilera’s having a killer season, isn’t she?

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So maybe Adam doesn’t think his own teammate Tessanne Chin is up there with Matthew and Jacquie, but maybe that’s because she’s on a whole other plane of her own. Tessanne sings Emeli Sande’s “My Kind of Love,” which works great because she already sort of sounds like, and a little bit looks like, Emeli Sande. Hasn’t she already sung “Next to Me,” too? Tessanne devotes the song to her husband, and everyone’s into the emotion she brings to her performance, as well as the crazy way she sounds like someone, or many people, you already know.

There’s no question Caroline Pennell is in the lead on Cee Lo’s team. She let go of some of the treacliness by choosing a less cutesy outfit, opting for shorts and tights and heels and some chunky jewelry. But when she opens her mouth, she still sounds like a 3-year-old, even on Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.” I’ll admit she’s interesting, though I’m still wary.

This is Blake Shelton’s weakest lineup by far. Only Cole Vosbury stands out from a combination of striking cave-man looks, super sweet voice, and totally chill coffeehouse vibe. To change it up from the usual guitar-strumming thing he usually does, Cee Lo gives him Miguel’s “Adorn,” and it actually works. It’s smooth and soulful, and just somehow makes him even cuter.

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The Pretty Good

A few folks greatly improved over last week. Cee Lo’s Kat Robichaud went back to her tough rocker roots, actually crowd surfing during AWOLNation’s “Sail.” It was way more powerful and interesting than the hippie thing she did last week with “She Keeps Me Warm,” though I am noticing a pattern of her needing to touch people in the audience every week.

Cee Lo’s last contestant, Jonny Gray, was also slightly more memorable than usual. Standing in for moral consciences, the air force vet (happy day!) sang “Another Day in Paradise.” He sped it up, had his guitar and made it very folky. Jonny actually sounds exactly like David Gray.

And Will Champlin from Team Adam has proven consistent and underdoggedly below the radar each week. This time, he did Imagine Dragons’ “Demons” reliably. His coach thinks he wants this “too much,” which is a good thing.

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The Meh

James Wolpert had a shaky night on The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside.” Christina specifically says that she was impressed that there weren’t pitch issues, but there were. Just not on the big important notes. But just cause he hit those, doesn’t mean the little notes don’t matter. And the song is just too monotone for him to do anything good with it. Still, he’s got that “ironic appearance” Cee Lo so loves, and his coach, Adam, is his number-one cheerleader.

Blake’s Austin Jenckes went full-out country with Travis Tritt’s “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive.” I like Austin, but this deep cuts country thing is alienating.

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Josh Logan is not winning me over. Coach Christina asks him to tone down the runs on “Man in the Mirror,” when really she should be NOT giving him that song. It’s sung by way too many guys on these types of shows, and almost always with too many runs. Actually, can we just do away with guys who do too many runs in general? So over that. Josh starts whispery, then jams with his backups. That’s all well and good, but I’m so bored with him.

I’m also ready to say goodbye to Ray Boudreaux, who has failed to titillate week after week, despite his handsome chiseled face. He does John Legend’s “All of Me.” What was that about too many runs? Cause coach Blake does not try to rein him in at all. It’s quiet and simple, and he ends with some falsetto, but there were some pitch issues, and the bigger problem is the fact that he is about as memorable as khaki pants.

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“The Voice” airs Tuesday at 9/8c on NBC.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.


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