The Voice “Live Performances, Week 1” Review

Live performances on The Voice are finally here. I would like to begin by personally thanking Cee Lo Green for the debut of his new look. The wig, long earring and pajama-like red ensemble = perfection. The only thing better than Cee Lo’s outfit was presence of Betty Freakin’ White.

Team Blake and Christina were first up for live performances.

Team Blake

Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” is a classic song. If I had a nickel for every time I belted that tune out at one of my favorite dive bars, I’d be wealthy. Not Mega Millions wealthy but not too shabby. Not only did we get new clothes for the judges this week, we also got the introduction of special effects during the performances. Jermaine kicked it off with an ascension from the ground as he began his performance. I liked Jermaine’s performance but I didn’t love it. Don’t get me wrong, Jermaine can sing. There is no doubt about his immense talent. I have to agree with Christina that there was a disconnect with the song. Jermaine’s voice is almost too perfect for a song that I think is better delivered with a little bit of grime and dirt. Blake is such a song selection wild card. Depending on the selection, I either love his choices or suspect that he’s trying to sabotage his artist. None of the selections by the other judges invoke such feelings. Perhaps Blake is some sort of evil genius. Giving Jermaine such a widely recognized song may earn a few new fans that would not have otherwise been drawn to his R&B-influenced sound.

The bromance continued as Blake chose Maroon 5’s “Wake Up Call” for RaeLynn’s performance. I was lukewarm on RaeLynn during the battles but I suspected her unique take on the Maroon 5 would finally win me over. What a difference a song choice can make! I loved RaeLynn’s unique delivery, her funky style and the dancing. RaeLynn’s been hiding her inner bad ass from us – I love it! Admittedly, she had me at cowboy boots and a hip grind – yet another dive bar past time. I’m curious, was RaeLynn’s microphone cord purposely made red to coordinate with her outfit or was that a Voice branding thing? Probably the latter.

To reggae or not to reggae? That was the question for Naia as she prepared to perform Adele’s “Turning Tables.” Blake pulled the plug on Naia’s reggae rendition, advising her that sticking to the traditional arrangement of the song was better. The decision was a bit counter-intuitive. If you’re doing a song by someone with a voice so powerful and recognizable as Adele, it is probably not in your best interest to try to sing the record version. It’s a shame that they couldn’t work out a mix of the two. If it were potentially my last performance on the show, I would prefer to do it my way.

The last time we saw Jordis, she had just completed a very lackluster performance during the battle rounds. She returned tonight to take on “Alone” by Heart. Jordis should consider herself redeemed.

It was great to see Erin return to the stage after the sad news of her father’s passing. For the record, Stevie Wonder’s “Living For The City” is my favorite song of all time. I love Erin but if she messed up a Stevie song, there would be no redemption! The performance was okay. I wish that she had delivered the entire song with the same passion and strength she delivered the final note of her performance.

I didn’t remember Charlotte’s singing during the battle round but I remembered that she annoyed the crap out of me during rehearsals for the battle rounds. However, the name of the show is The Voice not “The Personality.” For all of her goofiness and immaturity, Charlotte has a very mature, commanding stage presence. Her rendition of Paramour’s “Misery Business” was great. It’s interesting that Blake allowed Charlotte to arrange her song, unlike Naia.

Team Christina

Chris provided a stirring rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” I like that Christina works with her artist to choose the best song for their performance, unlike Blake who appears to make most of the performance-related decisions. The viewer votes will be a good indication of which strategy is better. Chris is one of the most technically brilliant artists on this season of The Voice. As Cee Lo observed, I can’t say anything bad about the performance. Despite the wonderful performance, I found myself a little bored.

Moses followed RaeLynn on the stage and I hoped that he would sustain the jolt of energy she infused into the show. In an effort to showcase his singing and rapping ability, he decided upon a Kanye West combination of the songs “Power” and “Stronger.” Moses, did you have on a skort over a pair of pants? I’m okay with a skirt but a skort may be a deal breaker. I enjoyed Moses but there was way too much going on during his performance. The dancers, gymnasts, skort, lights and the kitchen sink. Damn! It overpowered Moses a bit and his band was way too loud. I agree with Adam – Moses has a lot of untapped singing potential. Should he make it to the next round, I hope he will perform a song that allows for a simpler presentation and highlights his singing voice. Kudos to Christina for pointing out that Moses, unlike most contemporary singers, does not need autotune. I would list the artists to whom this jab applies but there is simply not enough space!

Lindsey provided a trip-hop, reggae-infused rendition of Gotye’s “Somebody I Used To Know.” I couldn’t help but think that Naia was somewhere thinking “why didn’t I end up on this team?” It would have been such a great contrast to see Naia and Lindsey back to back with their reggae inspired song arrangements. Lindsey has a skill for song arrangement that could take her much farther than singing.

From working in a hotel to center stage, Sera has blossomed on The Voice. This week, she took on Drake’s “Find Your Love.” I immediately thought of Dia Frampton’s AHHHMAZING rendition of Kanye West’s “Heartless” during season 1. Granted, Drake sings on this song so they’re not quite the same. I loved Sera’s performance and it looks like RuPaul let her borrow the pit crew from Drag Race to perform on stage with her!

Ashley returned to The Voice this week fresh off of her victory over fan favorite, experienced singer Jonathas. Christina deferred to Ashley’s selection of “Right To You” by Alanis Morissette. Her performance magically transformed us into a laser show from the 80s for a bit. Had there been a star wipe, I would have pledged my allegiance to Ashley for the rest of this competition immediately. Enough of the special effects distractions, Ashley was amazing. Like RaeLynn, she’s been holding back on that inner bad ass and it was nice to see it unleashed tonight.

I was skeptical about Jesse’s choice of “What A Wonderful World.” It is really difficult to hear the song and not want to hear Satchmo. I should have never second guessed him! Rather than go on and on I’m going to allow Cee Lo to sum it up, “your voice is as beautiful as my hair.” Indeed.

The awkwardness on The Voice continues . . .

– Adam’s hair in its re-growth phase. Not good.

– Blake not quite getting beyond the “male strippers” on the stage during Sera’s performance. They’re dancers Blake. Not those kind of dancers.

– Christina commenting that Sera looked like a “diva-in-training.” The comment had traces of a compliment and just a pinch of “you’re not quite there yet but nice try” to it.

– Did Christina caution Adam against bitching about Jesse?

– Christina referring to herself as the only sober coach on the panel.

Sound off below on The Voice. What did you think of Blake and Christina’s coaching?