Powerhouse performances continue to dominate “The Voice”

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As the number of contestants continues to whittle its way down to one winner, singers on “The Voice” vie for the number one spot with stunning performances. The level of competitiveness on “The Voice” makes it more difficult for viewers to predict a clear winner.

A range of genres on “The Voice”

I will admit to not having paid a great deal of attention to “The Voice” during its first several seasons. Having been a veteran watcher of “American Idol,” I thought I had seen all that such performance shows could offer viewers. But this season of “The Voice” seems different. Maybe because of Addison Agen and her hometown connection. Or, perhaps the contestants and their song selections are actually more interesting.

Monday night’s performances

Proving that “The Voice” is more interesting now than in some seasons past were the performances on the night of Dec. 4. In addition to a variety of approaches, what is also working in favor of the show is that some contestants refuse to be pigeonholed. Specifically, that there are contestants of color who are expressing their affinity for (and displaying talent in) genres besides r&b and soul. While there is obviously nothing wrong with either of those genres, if shows like “The Voice” are going to tap into how the American viewing public sees itself, they have to be open to contestants going outside of the stereotypical box.

While it is too bad that powerhouse Janice Freeman has been voted off, her take on grunge and alternative rock was notable. Now the most noteworthy performer in terms of breaking with stereotypes is Keisha Renee. She is black American and on Team Blake and is willing to sing country music.

However, last night Keisha Renee did a version of “All By Myself” that evoked emotion and was visually stunning. Even if viewers were not moved by the singer’s rendition of the Eric Carmen classic from 1976, they should have been impressed with her sapphire gown and its seemingly infinite tiers of ruffles that flowed down a staircase. Keisha sang the song for the “haters” who apparently are not pleased that she chose to sing country music, and have attacked her appearance.

Another standout performance was Chloe Kohanski. She performed Blondie’s 1980 hit, “Call Me.” Kohanski looked both contemporary and early 1980s in a red, sleeveless outfit. Her vocal register was lower than the original song. However, that plus her delivery and the way she connected with the audience made the performance memorable. She gave eye contact and used gestures that worked with the song’s content. Her set included extras who acted as though they were seeing her in concert. Their enthusiasm, as well as the band’s, made the performance even more engaging.

Brooke Simpson’s performance was laudable for her mostly a capella version of “Amazing Grace.” The sparse backing instrumentation allowed the singer’s voice to shine. Thankfully Simpson did not ruin the hymn with a number of vocal runs, or by singing it too loudly.

Ashland Craft was another singer who delivered a powerhouse performance of a classic 1980’s hit. Craft took on Joan Jett’s 1988 tune, “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” Craft’s set was marked by small touches in the delivery and instrumentation that indicated that her version was country crossover. There was even a violin (fiddle?) player. Also, all of Craft’s backing musicians were female.

Addison Agen rounded out the night by singing “Lucky” by Britney Spears. The song indicated a kind of bittersweet performance. Any of the singers might be considered “lucky” to win “The Voice,” but at what cost? It was a solemn idea put forth by a teenager who had worked so hard for her place on the show. Agen’s performance was emotional, as so many of the others had been, but when she allowed herself to really sear the high notes, the result was impressive.

As always, this season of “The Voice” is keeping interested viewers guessing.

 

 

 

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