'The Voice' Season 8 Recap & Review: Top 10 Perform & Koryn Hawthorne Breaks Out as Joshua Davis Falls Flat
If this is what The Voice top 10 has to offer, well, it's going to be easy to trim it down this week (or so it should be). The theme of the night wasn't superstar producers but inconsistency(though guest mentor appearances from Mark Ronson, Dave Stewart, Scott Hendricks and Ryan Tedder helped it seemed like the former).
This show had some major highlights and some major lowlights right off the bat. There were totally flat performances and songs with no heart on one end and then on the other end there were true bursts of inspiration and artistry.
This was one of the easiest rankings I've had to do so far... how did everyone play out?
10. Joshua Davis, "Hold Back the River": Off the bat, I'm not immediately familiar with this James Bay song, but Joshua Davis sounded really out of tune throughout the verses (and if that's how this song is written, then yeesh). Actually, whenever Joshua wasn't 100 percent going for it, he sounded pretty flat - and that's something Adam pointed out later so I'm glad it wasn't just me. As Blake pointed out, this song pushed Joshua's vocal but it was too much. His passion was there and I liked the performance element of it (Joshua always seems very genuine), but this wasn't anywhere near the standards of The Voice top 10.
09. Corey Kent White, "Unwound": I still don't buy Corey Kent White as a country singer and I don't think I ever will. I'm sorry but his voice just does not have what it takes to be a real country singer in my mind. For this performance, Corey put on whatever semblance of a country twang he could muster for his take on this George Strait song and it was fairly effective. This song really was a blend of country and rock, with a rasp coming through that was pretty compelling but that was the most interesting things we got here. The performance itself still fell really flat for me; I don't know... he'll stick around and I'll keep being annoyed.
08. Hannah Kirby, "Shout": If Blake Shelton wants Hannah Kirby to have any semblance of being musically relevant in 2015, he needs to stop it with all these dated song choices. Yes, the sound of the '80s is back but not quite like this. Hannah took on Tears for Fears' "Shout" for her top 10 performance, and like Kimberly Nichole before her, she had some really cool staging with black and white patterns and an army of snare drummers. Her power showed through and her confidence was on full display, but this song did nothing to show off any sort of range beyond Hannah's barking register, which we definitely know she already has. The audience was feeling it and I tend to like Hannah more than the average bear, but this did nothing for me.
07. Rob Taylor, "A Song For You": This song choice was a little bit of a snoozefest for me, especially when you consider what Rob Taylor is capable of with that range. But, we got to see him get really tender and play the piano, which I had never even known he could do. Rob usually knocks the emotions of a song out of the park, but I felt like this song was a little disconnected. It was definitely too slow and too low - I love it when Rob gets all The Weeknd-y and pulls out a nutso falsetto and this song only gave him like one chance to do that. Mediocre, over all.
06. Kimberly Nichole, "Something's Got a Hold on Me": The first interesting thing about Kimberly Nichole's performance of this Etta James classic is how much more elaborate the staging on this show is getting. Kimberly kicked this noise off on a THRONE, and that customized lighting was on par with any sort of awards show performance. Now, Kimberly's vocal here was powerful and strong but I don't think it quite lived up to what she's been able to pull off in the last two weeks. She's still quite the showman, giving this 110 percent of her effort. It just didn't feel like the winning performance here.
05. Deanna Johnson, "Somebody to Love": When Adam Levine and Dave Stewart workshopped this song with Deanna Johnson, they mentioned that they should add some flavors of Florence + The Machine to it, and now I just really want to hear Deanna tackle Ms. Welch. But, this Jefferson Airplane classic was a good substitute. The notes in this song can be really hard to pull off and maintain, but Deanna did a really solid job of making it work. Her vocal wasn't the strongest of the night but her confidence helped to bring this performance more memorable than some of the things she's done in the past.
04. Sawyer Fredericks, "Iris": This seems to be the most plugged in that we've seen of Sawyer Fredericks so far. It was nice to see what he would do something that's outside of the singer-songwriter comfort zone, but Goo Goo Dolls' '90s classic "Iris" is a great balance of vulnerability and rock and a vocal range that suits Sawyer well. His voice has the really unique vibrating tone to it that helped to distinguish him from the original version. Because I grew up listening to this song, some of the vocal choices and changes he made were a little jarring but, overall, this was a continued checkmark on a solid string of performances from this 16-year-old prodigy.
03. Meghan Linsey, "Home": Last week, Meghan Linsey really, truly stunned with her performance of "Girl Crush," and this week she was back again to slay with Marc Broussard's "Home." This performance showed just how seasoned Meghan is, especially compared to some of the other performers on this show. To some, that's an unfair advantage, but you know... just because you had success once doesn't mean you always will. THAT BEING SAID, Meghan is a pure talent and she rocked this out with a raspy, controlled yet powerful vocal that proves she is one of the biggest forces to be reckoned with this year.
02. India Carney, "Run to You": This song has some history for India Carney, who use it to audition for The Lion King on Broadway and apparently it "backfired." If India wanted to stick it to the producers of that show, she didn't need to do much else tonight than what she pulled out. The performance itself was really simple - standing in a black mini-dress, India delivered a determined and strong vocal, nailing each and every note. She learned that she doesn't always have to be perfect, and I think that allowed her to let loose a bit and really feel the music. It showed, and this was a big standout of the evening.
01. Koryn Hawthrone, "Make It Rain": Koryn Hawthorne often feels like the one contestant left on The Voice top 10 that I always forget is on the show - but that all changed tonight. When it was first announced that she'd be performing an Ed Sheeran song, I scoffed out loud because he is SO OVERDONE on talent shows, but I was wrong because this song choice knocked it out of the house. "Make It Rain" is one of Sheeran's most raw blues-influenced songs and that worked incredibly with Koryn's husky voice. She had the grit and the passion that really made this simple performance one of the few to remember from the first half of the show. The timing for a performance like this was great too, because Koryn has come out of the middle of the pack and established herself as quite the potential threat.