The top 12 competitors of NBC’s “The Voice” squared off Monday night. Duvall, Wash., native Austin Jenckes, had a nice night, but Tacoma’s Stephanie Anne Johnson was voted off by fans last week. Her run ended with the first round of live performances when fans (not judges Christina Aguilera, CeeLo Green, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine) voted her off along with seven other singers.
Just like any good reality show, Monday’s performances ranged from the very good to the very horrible. Two more contestants leave the show tonight. We’ve got the scoop on how the top 12 stacked up after the jump.
1. Tessanne Chin (Team Adam) — Chin is one of the strongest competitors this season. She tackled “My Kind of Love” by Emeli Sande’ and burned it to the ground. Her voice can get huge (she’s only been called a “diva” about a million times since the season began) but it’s her control and emotion that make her special. Levine told her that he thinks her voice could win a Grammy. High praise, indeed.
2. Matthew Schuler (Team Christina) — “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen is either the kind of song you nail or bomb on, and luckily for Schuler he was spot on. There was a real warmth to his voice and moments of softness combined with spikes of agony to lift the song. Was it better than Cohen or Jeff Buckley? Nah, but it was one of the best performances Monday and that’s all that really matters. Shelton agreed, pegging Schuler as the frontrunner.
3. Jacquie Lee (Team Christina) — Aguilera chose the U2 song “Love is Blindness” for Lee, who despite being just 16 packs a real wallop to her voice and also has been connecting with the studio audiences all season. Aguilera said she “set the stage on fire” but CeeLo came through with the best quote. “I forget to think,” he said. America will likely forget to vote Lee off this week and she’ll move ahead on the back of her strong performance.
4. James Wolpert (Team Adam) — The Voice’s resident nerd came through with a huge high note on “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers. Yeah, he was also a little flat right afterward, but it shouldn’t matter. This was the first rocker that Wolpert has nailed and it was a nice choice by his coach. The crowd’s adoring reaction proved that much.
5. Austin Jenckes (Team Blake) — Blake Shelton wanted Jenckes to sing a country song (his rich, emotive voice is perfect for the genre) and they ended up going with Travis Tritt’s “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive.” Jenckes ended up crushing a big high note that should be enough to get him through, even if we’d like to see a little more subtlety from the big man that Shelton said all of his buddies in Oklahoma would most like to get a beer with.
6. Cole Vosbury (Team Blake) — Shaggy Vosbury is known more as a rocker but he sure can sing R&B when he wants to. His version of “Adorn” by Miguel had the judges giving him a standing ovation. Maybe he’s not going to win it all, but he’s in the mix right now.
7. Kat Robichaud (Team CeeLo) — A lot of judges wanted to prove that their singers had the ability to break out of their molds. Kat’s been known as the rock chick, and when she tried to do something different last week it didn’t work out. “Sail” by Awolnation was another chance for her to unleash her snarl and strut about the stage. Don’t be mistaken by the crowdsurfing or the ‘tude, she can really sing even if the light show that accompanied her would have given even Phantogram (and its wild concert lighting) a headache.
8. Will Champlin (Team Adam) — Champlin is definitely an underdog, with even his coach Levine saying so. “Demons” by Imagine Dragons gave Champlain a chance to go on the offensive and he took advantage of his opportunity, nailing the song and successfully navigating the wordy song. Adam “loves” that Champlin hasn’t been voted off yet. It shouldn’t happen this week.
9. Ray Boudreaux (Team Blake) — Shelton miscalculated and picked a song (“All of Me” by John Legend) that Boudreaux just couldn’t handle. His voice broke and overall his performance had just enough cracks in it to keep him away from the top spot despite turning in a nice effort. Afterward, Shelton got ragged on for his bromance with Ray by the other judges.
10. Caroline Pennell (Team CeeLo) — Poor Caroline. She’s got a sweet, unique voice and she was left to sing “Wake Me Up” by Avicii. Maybe it’s because the song was too up-tempo (or as judge Blake Shelton pointed out, the crowd’s horrendous sense of rhythm as they clapped along) but the song didn’t work this week.
11. Josh Logan (Team Christina) — He sang Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and survived it. Of course Logan’s not going to hit those extreme highs that MJ could squeak out, but he managed to do a pretty good job. The judges had nothing but praise, with his coach Christina Aguilera telling him: “Sometimes, people just want to hear your voice.” This isn’t a performance anyone will remember in a week, regardless of how many people want to hear Logan sing.
12. Jonny Gray (Team CeeLo) — Gray, with an acoustic guitar, worked his way through “Another Day in Paradise,” by Phil Collins. His unique, slightly reedy voice was a good fit for the song even if he didn’t do a great job connecting with the audiences or judges, though he did inspire CeeLo to launch into one of his bizarre, unintelligible rants.
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails