This season of NBC’s singing competition “The Voice” has reached a fever pitch. We’re down to the top 10 competitors, among them Duvall, Wash., native Austin Jenckes, who has continued to dazzle judges and television audiences with his powerful, emotive voice and energy.
Unfortunately for all the remaining singers, Monday night’s performances were pretty uneven, which had a lot to do with the song choices the coaches (Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and CeeLo Green) made. See how it all panned out after the jump.
1. Matthew Schuler (Team Christina) — There’s nothing that “The Voice” producers probably want more than a win by Schuler this season. He’s got a stupid good voice and he knows exactly how to connect with the audience. The note he hits about two-thirds the way through “Beneath Your Beautiful” by Labrinth was hair-raising. It’s a two-horse race between him and Chin at this point and it’s hard to not give him the edge at this point, if only for how he connects both to home audiences and the studio crowd.
2. Tessane Chin (Team Adam) — This woman might just win it all. Her version of “If I Were Your Woman” by Gladys Knight and the Pips was flawless and dripping with emotion. Last week Chin turned in a great performance but this week she shoved all her chips to the middle of the table. She was engaged from the very first note and it showed.
3. Cole Vosbury (Team Blake) — Mr. Big’s “To Be with You” helped Vosbury score some points with the judges and audience. He’s got a warm voice with just enough grit that makes you think he’s seen a few things in his life, which is quite a feat for a 22-year-old. That beard of his is also quite the feat for a young guy, but it’s his soulful style that will help him move on.
4. Will Champlin (Team Adam) — Aguilera thought that Champlin looked like the Devil in his red suit. The fireballs shooting up from the stage probably added to that particular image. But theatrics aside, Champlin’s “Love Me Again” by John Newman was clean and filled with Champlin’s trademark energy and verve. His stock is rising.
5. Austin Jenckes (Team Blake) — Shelton probably should have chosen another country song for Jenckes but the coaches are so obsessed with showing their singers’ versatility it can be a problem. Jenckes sang “Your Love,” the 80s pop hit from The Outfield. It wasn’t the most subtle performance but it should be enough to get the big man from Washington on to the next round.
6. Jacquie Lee (Team Christina) — Lee had such a nice performance last week, but she was pretty pitchy on “Clarity,” by Zedd. Shelton and CeeLo both pointed out her problems, but Levine seemed to enjoy her intestinal fortitude to sing such a stripped down song at her young age (16 years old). It wasn’t the best performance, but you’ve got to love this kid’s voice despite the pitch problems.
7. Ray Boudreaux (Team Blake) — One Ray covered another Ray (LaMontagne), doing a nice but not outstanding job with “You are the Best Thing.” For a minute it sounded like there was a little bit of a bubble in his throat and he didn’t create the kind of raw, sexy energy that LaMontagne has made a career on, but it was probably enough to get him through.
8. James Wolpert (Team Adam) — Wolpert improved his breathing techniques this week but it’s clear that “Without You” by Harry Nilsson was just a little too much for him. Singers never want to sound strained, and Wolpert was definitely straining throughout his performance. Still, he had Levine slack-jawed in amazement, so that counts for something.
9. Kat Robichaud (Team CeeLo) — CeeLo chose “We Belong” by Pat Benatar. I used to work in an 80s-themed izakaya in Fremont and I heard this song probably 1,000 times while I was there. It’s a good song, but maybe it’s not a good song for Robichaud. She didn’t attack the song’s big moments in the right way and seemed oddly shaky on the back half after she got up from the piano.
10. Caroline Pennell (Team CeeLo) —Pennell bucked tradition and picked her own song, John Denver’s “Leavin On a Jet Plane” and didn’t exactly knock it out of the park. She’s got a very unique voice, probably the most “different” of the top 10, but there were points where the song just got too big for her and she got lost in the background a little. Even her coach, CeeLo, pointed that out.
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails