The Voice Recap 6/21/11: The Singers were Good, The Show~ Not So Much

Well, at least The Voice is improving… That was my biggest reaction after watching last night’s semi-final of the singing competition where seven of the eight contenders delivered very strong performances. The renewed focus on their talent and the fact that they are, for the most part, somewhat compelling artists is giving credence to the show that overall, is still, a bit of a mess….
Let’s take a look at the positives:
1) the singers are actually good and I could see several of them make a hit song
2) Cee Lo is perhaps the most entertaining and interesting star presence among the judges
3) Adam is playing the game and making smart choices (Hello, THANK YOU for picking Casey to stay instead the over-hyped and under-whelming Jeff)
4) the show has wonderfully diverse singers and focuses on them equally whether they’re straight, gay, black white, short or tall (take that Idol)

And now the negatives:
1) Carson Daly is a boring, atrocious, clueless, tired host
2) the “Social Media” aspect of the show (while thankfully scaled back a bit) is an incredibly irritating waste of time. It is not interesting or fun to watch people talk about whose “trending” and that correspondent girl is astoundingly annoying
3) the show remains ridiculously overproduced and manipulated (yes, we know you want Dia or Javier to win producers… you’re lucky they’re good)
4) The graphics and stage are so cheap and tacky. For season two, please get an upgrade
5) there is too much focus on the coaches~ the show is fast becoming about their voices and not the contestants… Plus, their banter is a bit obnoxious (mainly Xtina) and lord, someone teach them about brevity. They need to learn how to give a soundbite
6) there are no real critiques~ the coaches need to man up and actually give some constructive criticism instead of just effusive praise (especially if the performance is bad like the country guy from last week or those cute twin girls)

Now, that I have noted the good and bad things about the show, I do have to admit one more thing: the show remains very watchable. And with 8 well-chosen contestants, we have a real horse race on our hands. (By the way America chose Javier from Adam’s team and Vicci from Cee Lo’s team while Adam’s choice was Casey and Cee Lo’s was Nakia all moving forward). So, just who may be ahead to win the whole thing? Let’s look at my rankings from last night for a clue.

The Voice Performance Rankings 6/21/11:
1. Vicci: slaying Florence + the Machine’s recent hit “Dog Days are Over”, my favorite contender remains a force to be reckoned with. She had the most entertaining performance as well with lots of energy, good vocals and the drum group.
2. Nakia: giving a rocking spin to Adam Lambert’s top ten hit from 2010 “Whataya Want From Me”, Nakia almost grabbed my top spot. With Vicci and Nakia delivering such strong numbers, America and the CeeLo will have a Sophie’s Choice moment choosing which deserving singer will hit the finals.
3. Javier: performing what I consider to be one of the best songs of all time, Coldplay’s “Fix You”, Javier gave us arguably the best vocall of the night. He reigned in the vocal gymnastics for a pure translation of this great song. However, I did feel a slight emotional disconnect from him. The song’s emotional power won me over more than he did.
4. Casey: with the biggest emotional wallop of the night, Casey surprised the heck out of me with a lovely rendition of  Whitney Houston’s # 1 smash from 1992 and Dolly Parton’s # 1 country hit from 1974 “I Will Always Love You”. Her take on it landed somewhere in the middle of those two classics and I really enjoyed it. In fact, of all the numbers, it was the one I was most tempted to download.
5. Dia: the queen of song reinterpretation on The Voice (and possibly the front-runner thus far) slayed R.E.M.’s # 4 hit from 1991 “Losing My Religion”. She remains very original and a sweet smooth presence. However, her voice is not my fave. She kinda sounds like a less polished Jewel…
6. Beverly: with another fantastic vocal on B.B. King’s 1969 classic “The Thrill is Gone”, Beverly proved she has the chops to make it to the final. I just wish it had been a bit more memorable or explosive on a night of strong performances.
7. Frenchie: it pains me to put two of my faves, Frenchie and Beverly, so low on the list, but that just goes to show how well everyone did. And it’s no knock to Ms. Davis who delivered a polished take on Madonna’s iconic 1989 # 1 “Like a Prayer”. I especially enjoyed the end when she took us to church!
8. Xenia: ok, yes, she’s a lovely girl with a great tone to her voice. But let’s be honest. She’s kinda terrible. She has no stage presence and her voice is actually really weak. The teenager’s take on The Script’s 2009 debut hit “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” was easily the worst of the night. She should’ve been sent packing last week. Sorry.

And now My Predictions.. Just who will garner the most votes from America, plus enough points from their coach to move forward?

Safe: Vicci, Javier, Beverly, Dia
Going Home: Casey, Nakia, Frenchie, Xenia
(However, Nakia could pull out a shocker and take Vicci’s spot).

And there you have it, my latest take on the fascinating conundrum that is The Voice. The show is sort of concentrating on finding one true great voice, but still needs some work. We’ll see how things go in next week’s finale. And tune into NBC tonight for the results show. Who are you rooting for?

And here’s Vicci’s great “Dog Days are Over” performance.


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