Monday’s performances by The Voice’s Top 13 invited us to leave behind the shocks and disappointments of the Live Playoffs. But — I don’t know about you, but — my head was still spinning like a disco ball without an “off” switch. How did we possibly arrive at this stage of the competition without Michael Lee… Patrique Fortson… Kameron Marlowe? For that matter, how did we get here without Tyshawn Colquitt?!? (Yeah, I still couldn’t let that go.) It was as mystifying as it was dispiriting. So I settled in for the night hoping to forget all the questions without answers that were rattling around in my brain like Brynn Cartelli’s Season 14 winner’s single. If nothing else, I was pretty sure a few of the performances would be solid. Sarah Grace, for one, hadn’t let me down yet. Maybe this would even be the episode in which I figured out what Tyke James’ fans love so much about him (besides the rock-god hair of a lost Nelson brother). Did it happen? Read on…
Chris Kroeze (Team Blake), “Let It Be” — Grade: B | Chris must have nerves of steel. Me, I’d have needed a new pair of pants just thinking about tackling the Beatles classic, never mind tackling it so soon after Kyla Jade brought down the house with her rendition. But maybe Chris’ calm stemmed from the fact that a) he was dedicating his performance to a missing child from his Wisconsin hometown, and b) he wasn’t trying to outdo the Fab Four or Kyla, he was just trying to do the Chris Kroeze version of “Let It Be.” Which was… ? For the most part, kinda laid-back; as you’d hope, stunningly sincere; and overall a fine showcase for his tangy, gravelly country-rock voice. The performance got less affective as the production got bigger, but for that a-cappella intro alone, Chris was already at a solid B.
Tyke James (Team Adam), “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” — Grade: B- | After I expressed perhaps an excess of shock at Adam’s selection of Tyke to save in the Live Playoffs, I promised a commenter that I’d try to be nicer about the teen. So I’m going to start this review of his performance with the good: It was a bold choice to cover Bryan Adams with a ukulele — credit where it’s due: Adam’s idea — and the gamble paid off. The stripped-down arrangement lent a quirky charm to the version that Tyke dedicated to his mom, and helped elevate it from the realm of karaoke. What wasn’t so good about it? Tyke was a bit mumble-mouthed and occasionally sounded sorta wheezy. But this wasn’t in the slightest unpleasant. Hands down, the best performance we’ve gotten from Tyke. I actually liked it.
DeAndre Nico (Team Adam), “I Can Only Imagine” — Grade: A- | Can he get an amen? Why, yes, he can. A bunch of ’em, as a matter of fact. Going the spiritual route with a MercyMe cover — which he dedicated to his girlfriend, who he told us got pregnant during the Knockouts and lost the baby — DeAndre sang like the proverbial angel. One nice, round note after another rolled out of him until you couldn’t help but feel a little blessed to have gotten to listen. And, unlike Chris’ performance, which suffered somewhat when the music swelled, DeAndre’s only got better — his resonant voice rose above the band, all but demanding that the heavens open up for him. Or at least demanding that viewers vote for him. A real “Now that’s a star!” performance.
Kymberli Joye (Team Kelly), “Diamonds” — Grade: B | The sparse arrangement of Kymberli’s Riri cover, in particular at the start of the number (which she dedicated to her little sister), allowed us to really focus on the contestant’s voice, which was strong and beautiful in equal measure. Props to Kelly for recommending that Kymberli focus on those melancholy first notes to show her vulnerability — the gambit worked like a charm and really drew me in. As the song invited Kymberli to go bigger, that she did, unleashing the considerable full force of her voice. But she was a little pitchy on some of the more ginormous notes, which undermined the impact of the vocal explosion. So it was probably for the best that before her performance was through, she’d returned to the softer, more intimate tones that had been so irresistible.