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Since the live playoffs of The Voice have gotten us down to the top twelve and the elimination rounds are finally upon us (and that is where I generally start to check out mentally, if not also physically), I thought it might be fun to review the best performances in each round to date.

Best of the Blinds

This is a talented group and most blind auditions were very good. However, only a few really captivated me with their performance or song choice.

Maybe it’s because I just came back from a trip to Mississippi, but by far my favorite audition was Sawyer Fredericks with “I’m a Man of Constant Sorrow” (despite the fact that he looks a little like my cheater ex-boyfriend).

Close on his country heels was Cody Wickline, who gave me a new appreciation for “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones.

In the singing chops category, I’d have to give top prize to Caitlin Caporale with a rendition of “Impossible” that had Christina kicking herself.

Finally, neck and neck for the Janis Joplin Award were Hannah Kirby with “The Letter” and Sarah Potenza with “Stay with Me” (eventually the two would battle it out on “Gimme Shelter”).

Others I liked in the Blinds include: Anthony Riley (“I Got You”), Brian Johnson (“Reason to Believe”), Brooke Adee (“Skinny Love”), India Carney (“New York State of Mind”), Jeremy Gaynor (“Superstar”), Joshua Davis (“I Shall Be Released”), Lowell Oakley (“Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”), Meghan Linsey (“Love Hurts”), Mia Z (“The Thrill is Gone”), Nathan Hermida (“Sure Thing”), Sonic (“Money on My Mind”), Travis Ewing (“Say My Name”), and Treeva Gibson (“Young and Beautiful”).

Team and/or song choices that I just didn’t get include: Ashley Morgan (“I Wanna Dance With Somebody”), Blaze Johnson (“How to Save a Life”), Brenna Yaeger (“The House That Built Me”), Deanna Johnson (“All I Want”), Kimberly Nichole (“Nutbush City Limits”), Rob Taylor (“I Want You”), and Tonya Boyd-Cannon (“Happy”).

Best of the Battles

As with the blind auditions, there was very little to complain about talent-wise in the battle rounds. There were a few odd song choices on the part of the coaches, but thankfully the early days of absolutely dreadful song picks seem to be behind us.

Best in Girl Power: “Put The Gun Down” by Ashley Morgan & Mia Z
I didn’t like Ashley in the Blinds, but it’s always a good sign when a battle gets me to buy the original. I love Mia more and more each day.

Best Arrangement: “Hound Dog” by Kimberly Nichole & Lowell Oakley
This bluesy performance was just all-around enjoyable. Kimberly redeemed her song selection from the Blinds and Lowell proved he could do something other than just croon.

Most Mesmerizing: “Stay” by Clinton Washington & India Carney.
We didn’t get to see Clinton’s audition but he certainly made an impression here, matching powerhouse India breath for breath. Definitely the most emotional performance of the Battles.

Best of the Knockouts

The Knockouts are always dicey. Song choice plays a huge role here and there are often spectacular wins and epic fails. Heads and shoulders above the rest was “Wasted Love” (a song which had its debut in the Season 7 finale) by Sarah Potenza.

I was also impressed with Meghan Linsey, who took on “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and showcased both her beautiful voice and stage experience.

Another veteran, Joshua Davis, delivered an impeccable rendition of “Arms of a Woman” that probably had women swooning in the aisles. His voice is just so soothing.

Coming from nowhere was Koryn Hawthorne with an energized performance of “Try” by P!nk. I wish we had seen her Battles performance.

For the most part, I think the judges have made good calls throughout the season, and the Knockouts were no exception. Ashley rightly left after choosing to compete with Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” and Travis flailed with his choice of “I Don’t Want to Be” by Gavin DeGraw. However, as God is my witness, I have no idea why Deanna is still in the competition at this point (“Listen to Your Heart”? Really?). Also, I’m still not getting Rob or Tonya; they are good singers but I don’t connect with them at all.

Best of the Playoffs

Going into the playoff round, I had a pretty good idea of who I wanted to see on each team and I’m happy to say my favorites mostly delivered on their promise. A few I would have liked to see pull off an upset (Nathan Hermida, Brooke Adee) didn’t come up to scratch, but I’m mostly happy with the Top Twelve.

Mia Z continued her reign as the blues queen with one of my favorites, “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers via Eva Cassidy.

I finally saw the appeal of Kimberly Nichole with her performance of “What’s Up” by Linda Perry.

And, even though I really don’t love falsettos, there’s no denying Rob Taylor deserved a top spot with the appropriately named “Earned It” by The Weeknd (stupidest band name ever).

Going Forward

At the end of the live playoffs, here’s how the teams stand:
TEAM ADAM: Deanna and Joshua (Coach Save: Brian)
TEAM BLAKE: Corey and Meghan (Coach Save: Hannah)
TEAM CHRISTINA: India and Kimberly (Coach Save: Rob)
TEAM PHARRELL: Mia and Sawyer (Coach Save: Koryn)

I thought Blake and Pharrell had deeper benches going into this round and I admit I would have liked to see anyone from their teams over Deanna and Rob, but with each team getting three slots that just wasn’t going to happen.

While I don’t have a problem with any of the coach saves, I’m very sorry to see Sarah go. I’ll also miss seeing what Lowell would have come up with, though I understand Pharrell’s choice of Koryn. And I’d still rather have Cody representing country than Corey, but that ship sailed long ago.

In the end, the top twelve are all great singers. At this point, I’d say Pharrell has the edge with two really unique voices in Mia and Sawyer. Both of them have been favorites of mine since the Blinds. After them, I’m probably most rooting for India, Kimberly, and Meghan.

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