Amanda Brown hits a home run with "Dream On." (NBC )
Finally, finally, finally, after almost TWO MONTHS, we reach the live shows of "The Voice," and for the first time this season, the power is in the hands of the voting audience.
Wait, there’s another election going on this week, right? Maybe that’s important, too? (Hint: YES. GO VOTE NOW, AMERICA.)
But again, this is a safe space, free of politics and devoted solely to “The Voice.” So here’s how things work now:
Four teams. Five people on each team. After the live playoffs (Monday for Teams Adam and Blake, Wednesday for Teams Christina and Cee Lo) the teams will be whittled down to three each.
THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN, BEAUTIFUL VOTER. Vote for your favorites — your votes save two contestants, the coach saves one per team.
Not sure who to vote for? I’ve got you covered.
TEAM ADAM LEVINE
Joselyn Rivera sang "Give Your Heart a Break," and I thought she struggled with the first notes; ironic, since she thought the song would "show my range." The coaches were amiable, though Christina did note some nerves in her voice. Christina’s grand observation though, was saying Joselyn did a good job walking down stairs in her high heels because Christina "knows how hard that is." If the best thing you can say about a girl’s performance is how well she WALKED, it’s a bad sign. Don’t vote for Joselyn.
Twee princess Melanie Martinez put a jazzy, sultry spin on "Hit the Road, Jack," and happy memories of singing this song with my mother in the kitchen were forever sullied. Just because Melanie has an interesting voice, doesn’t mean it’s a good voice. Christina’s critique was prolonged and full of pauses, meaning the Diva Queen had the same reaction as me: MEH. Don’t vote for Melanie.
Bryan Keith took on "Iris," and middle-school me was happy. For most of the song, Bryan was like listening to John Rzeznik but BETTER, and then he hit the last note, and held it. Marvelous. Blake said he sounded like Neil Diamond in his lower register (Blake had many moments Monday that made me question what space world he lives in), and Adam noted Brian’s spirit, soul and passion. Vote for Bryan.
Loren Allred sang "All Around the World," in an effort to stop "flying under the radar," and said her time on "The Voice" was to make "dropping out of school worth it." Hint: IT NEVER IS OKAY TO DROP OUT OF SCHOOL, GUYS. She’s still flying under the radar as far as I’m concerned. She’s good, but not great, and that’s the key difference. Don’t vote for Loren.
THE BEST PERFORMANCE OF THE NIGHT was hands down, Amanda Brown, with "Dream On." This was her best song yet, and she conveyed every emotion in that song with such comprehensive depth and power. She has such a commanding stage presence, and she had this little growl in the middle of the first verse that sent chills up my spine. And seriously, how extensive is this woman’s vocal register? She can sing ANY note. Vote for Amanda.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON
Terry McDermott did an admirable job with “Don’t Stop Believing.” Blake said he was excited for Terry, because he’s a chance to make classic rock cool again (once more, WHAT WORLD IS BLAKE LIVING IN? Classic rock needs to be made cool again? When was it not cool?) I love Terry, and he’s a powerhouse, but here’s the thing: we need to hear something from him other than classic rock songs. Till then, you should still vote for Terry.
Liz Davis sang “Independence Day,” which I guess is timely given, you know, elections and patriotism and AMERICA, but I can’t get fully behind a country artist, no matter how good. And Liz is good. Really good. When it comes to voting for Liz, decide for yourself. I’m impartial.
Cassadee Pope sang “ My Happy Ending,” and most of the coaches loved it — Christina said that while Avril Lavigne is more straightforward in her approach, Cassadee put more angst and anger into it, and she made the song “come to life.” My problem with Cassadee is this: She’s already achieved relative fame with her old group, Hey Monday. She’s already been “discovered.” She should not be on this show. Don’t vote for Cassadee.
Julio Cesar Castillo went back to his roots with the mariachi song “El Ray,” and the coaches applauded the way he conveyed the “emotion of the song” given he was singing in Spanish. Adam said Julio made sure “people understood, emotionally, what was happening on stage.” Did you understand what was happening emotionally on stage? Because I didn’t, sorry. He’s a good mariachi singer, but Julio has failed to shine on any of this other songs this season, so I don’t think he can hold his own. Don’t vote for Julio.