The Voice Season 12 Episode 21 Recap: Inventive Takes on Songs
BY Max Veron
Published 6 years ago
With only eleven contenders left on The Voice 2017, everyone is giving their all to secure a place in the coveted Top Ten. We’ve come to the point in the season that each episode tends to have more hits than misses – and tonight is no exception. There were some inspired performances from Lilli Passero (taking on a sultry jazz piece), Hunter Plake (with a unique rendition of Kodaline), and Brennley Brown (reinventing a Joni Mitchell song). But there was also some pieces that, while great, could have been just a little bit better. And at this point in the competition, that little bit of difference can mean an elimination.
Here’s the rundown of tonight’s performances:
Stephanie Rice (Team Alicia)
Song: Behind Blue Eyes, The Who
Up first with another haunting performance, Stephanie made due on last week’s promise to show a different side of herself. Her trademark husky growl occasionally transitioned into a full voice that earned praise from her coach. “You’re blossoming like this powerful, feminine phenomenon,” Alicia said. It was great to see Stephanie unleash her inner rock chick this week and the audience seemed to be eating it up. There’s no doubt that one of her greatest strengths is her ability to interpret and arrange songs in unique, stunning ways.
Aliyah Moulden (Team Blake)
Song: Take it Back, Reba McIntire
Only fifteen years old, Aliyah Moulden shows once again that she has the vocal chops of an artist years her senior. Her powerful, energetic, growling take on Reba McIntire’s Take it Back had Blake singing her praises. He said Reba would be beaming with pride over Aliyah’s performance, and even went so far to say that “America is falling in love with you.” Still, this teen powerhouse still falls just short of being one of the top contenders on The Voice. With a little more confidence, who knows how far Aliyah may go.
TSoul (Team Blake)
Song: Lay Me Down, Sam Smith
In those first few moments TSoul was on the piano, he transported everyone to an achingly beautiful place – revealing a strength of performance that, tragically, fell apart once he left the keys. What ensued was a messy performance that eventually led to him literally lying down on the floor. It was a shame that it ended that way because TSoul has the vocal skills, versatility, and energy to be at the top of the competition. His vibratos are gorgeous and he can access a special kind of tenderness that has a power all its own. His performances just need a little more polish.
Lilli Passero (Team Adam)
Song: Town Without Pity, Gene Pitney
Consider the code cracked – Lilli and Adam finally found the perfect song to suit her voice. And what a voice this was! Lilli’s sultry jazz performance turned Town Without Pity into a gorgeous piece that wouldn’t be out of place in a James Bond movie. She really showed her vocal mastery this episode, staying on-key and conquering some tricky notes to deliver a showstopper. Her inspired choice of song was a real standout. Alicia praised her ability to become magnificent by losing herself in her own world. Tonight might be the turning point in the competition for this aspiring actress-singer.
Hunter Plake (Team Gwen)
Song: All I Want, Kodaline
Hunter Plake’s capacity for invention is hands down one of the highlights of this season. He delivered again this week with an intense rendition of Kodaline All I Want – you can really tell that Hunter put a lot of thought into this performance. Before his performance, Gwen told him that “every note counts.” It’s easy to see that he took the advice to heart. Hunter’s ability to arrange a song into something more complex, layered and original, makes him one of the boldest, most exciting artists in the competition. His voice might not have the power of other contenders, but his command over the notes and inventive arrangements make him one of the ones to beat.
Vanessa Ferguson (Team Alicia)
Song: Diamonds, Rihanna
What left is there to say that Alicia already hasn’t? “Vanessa you have this thing about, it’s so effortless… The capacity and the dynamic and the power of your voice is just unmatched, and for you to own that in a way that’s unassuming, it’s so refreshing,” the coach told her student, and it couldn’t be truer. Vanessa Ferguson is a revelation. Her smooth, cool confidence translates beautifully into her performances, sometimes transforming them into transcendental pieces of unparalleled style. Diamonds wasn’t her best, but it was another solid notch for Vanessa in a season of smooth performances. Alicia is a fan, and so are we.
Lauren Duski (Team Blake)
Song: Somewhere In My Broken Heart, Billy Dean
Talk about a voice like honey. Lauren’s rendition of Somewhere In My Broken Heart was a great fit for her voice: sweet, smooth, and full of hopeful longing. She connected with the country ballad to deliver another solid – though not particularly bold – performance. Adam expressed his confidence that she would be in the finale. Blake agreed: “I’m running out of things to say about Lauren,” he said. “You’re special. You’re different. Your voice sounds classic but it doesn’t sound like anybody else.”
Mark Isaiah (Team Adam)
Song: How To Love, Lil Wayne
After narrowly avoiding last week’s elimination, Mark Isaiah takes on Lil Wayne’s rhythmically difficult song How To Love. He went on the stage this week, hoping up his game and showcase his tone. While his performance was smooth enough, there were some nasally parts and the song choice didn’t seem particularly inventive. This was one case where the artist might have bitten off a little more he could chew – his performance was far from effortless. Still, Mark’s hard work shone through and he ended strongly with a beautiful falsetto.
Jesse Larson (Team Adam)
Song: Human, Rag’n’Bone
Started off a bit slow but Jesse eventually built up the momentum to turn this song into a low, haunting number. His vibrato towards the end reached high notes that showed off Jesse’s impressive range and control. And his versatility. Jesse showed off a different flavor of his voice this week, and it was a different performance than his usual but arguably also one of his best. Alicia particularly loved his rendition of Human: “You took it to a whole new place.” Adam agreed, adding that Jesse was just getting started with showing off his talent.
Brennley Brown (Team Gwen)
Song: River, Joni Mitchell
No words for how beautiful and incredibly touching this song was. Brennley Brown is a country artist who delivers songs in a different but no less remarkable vein than Lauren Dusky’s honey-sweet vocals. She transformed Joni Mitchell’s River into a country song – and did it with an ease and mastery that belies her young age. Adam praised her “refreshing originality”: reinventing River while still maintaining a reverence towards the original. Gwen also praised Brennley’s ability to access and channel songs that seem otherwise outside her comfort zone. A truly talented young artist.
Chris Blue (Team Alicia)
Song: When a Man Loves a Woman, Percy Sledge
Closing out the night, Chris Blue tackled When a Man Loves a Woman and gave the episode the proper sendoff it deserves. This crooner delivered an emotional and intense performance with some truly ridiculous runs and riffs sprinkled throughout the song. Towards the end, Chris fell on his knees and belted out a falsetto that had the crowd cheering. His coach had nothing but praises for him. “When you came out here, I felt like I was watching Marvin Gaye,” she said. High praises, indeed – and well-deserved after this intense performance.
The Voice Season 12: Final Standings and Top Ten Predictions
Standouts for tonight included Lilli Passero, Hunter Plake, and Brennley Brown – all showing off their incredible inventiveness and ability to take on complex arrangements. Their boldness served them well this episode and hopefully will carry them on further into the competition. Solid contenders Vanessa Ferguson, Lauren Duski, Chris Blue, and Jesse Larson also remain strong with nuanced performances. They’ll probably make it into the Top Ten, too.
That leaves four contestants who might be facing elimination: Stephanie Rice, Aliyah Moulden, TSoul, and Mark Isaiah. Stephanie showed a new side of herself that might be enough to secure her a place in the Top Ten, but compared to the other performances, hers might not be enough to stand out. Aliyah’s voice showed strength and steadiness this episode, but her performance included some awkward screaming vocals that might turn some voters off. TSoul’s performance was riveting – at first. But it lost control and became messy once he left the piano. And Mark was previously in danger of elimination last week, but his take in Lil Wayne this episode may be enough to carry him into the Top Ten. We’ll have to see how it all plays out in the next episode.
Here are tonight’s final standings:
- Adam – Mark Isaiah, Jesse Larson, Lilli Passero
- Gwen -Brennley Brown, Hunter Plake
- Alicia -Vanessa Ferguson, Chris Blue, Stephanie Rice
- Blake -Lauren Duski, Aliyah Moulden, TSoul