“The Voice” showcases soloists and duets; weathers controversy

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Monday night’s episode of season 15 of “The Voice” found the mostly young singers performing for their (musical) lives. Through duets and solo performances, the singers collaborated with each other in interesting matchups and sometimes inspired solo performances. “The Voice” did not ignore the controversy caused by Adam Levine’s seeming to throw DeAndre Nico under the bus in favor of Reagan Strange. Still, the issues surrounding that incident continue to provoke the ire of fans online.

“The Voice” highlights Monday night

While there were inspired and even engaging solo performances on Monday night, including MaKenzie Thomas’ version of “Vision of Love,” the duets stole the show.

Earning (hypothetical) points for cuteness and choreography, Reagan Strange’s and Kennedy Holmes mashed up “Happy” with “Tightrope” and added a small group of dancers in jeans and satin jackets. The performance was energetic and fun, even if audiences do not usually listen to pop, it was difficult to find fault with the teens’ performance. Side note: They referred to themselves as “The Presidents” in reference to their first names.

Chris Kroeze and Sarah Grace might have seemed a slightly unusual pairing to some, but their collaborative work that coupled “Chain of Fools” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” was not only unexpected, but well-executed.

Arguably, the best duet of the night was Kirk Jay and Chevel Shepherd’s mix of “She’s Country” and “Country Must Be Country Wide.” The website “Taste of Country” even noted that the pairing of the two singers with those songs was unusual. Originally sung by Jason Aldean and Brantley Gilbert, the song seemed out of the wheelhouses of both Jay and Shepherd – – for Jay because he is more of a crooner, and for Shepherd because she is female.

Nonetheless, the result on Monday night was a surprisingly rock-oriented take on country that added a new dimension to each of the singer’s styles. Audiences were forced to re-evaluate the singers. This mash-up more than others, highlighted the usefulness off the duets. Some are more successful than others. This was the best of Monday night. If viewers only had one reason to watch on Monday, this pairing would have been it.

“The Voice” still weathers DeAndre Nico controversy

Coach Adam Levine’s support of the then-absent Strange, did not sit well with Nico or fans of “The Voice.” Emotions played on the singer’s face. He has since spoken out. Nico is quoted on Country Living’s website as saying “…I just felt like he sold me out…and I just don’t respect it.”

As for any sympathy that Nico might have had for his fellow competitor, he recognizes that Strange is still a child, but as a contestant, all of the performers have struggled. “We did our job, sick or not. I just got over laryngitis, and when I cam back, I still sang.”

Nico’s words are in direct conflict to Levine’s claims that he and Nico had essentially patched up. Audiences were also not pleased with the snippet that showed Levine and Strange having a video call with Nico. The consensus online is that the moment looked inauthentic. According to Country Living, some viewers even called for a special segment of “The Voice” in which Nico and Strange battled each other. The idea received 11,000 signatures.

Still other viewers took to Twitter to declare that they were keeping their promises never to watch “The Voice” again.

Despite the vitriol, “The Voice’s” popularity has yet to slow down. At Country Living’s website, an informal poll asks visitors if they watch “American Idol” or just “The Voice.” As of Tuesday evening, “The Voice” was winning 72 percent to “American Idol’s” 28 percent.

Suspense continues to build on “The Voice” as four contestants are slated to go home Tuesday night.

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