The Voice recap: 'The Playoffs, Night 1'


If nothing else, The Voice sure does manage to put on the most eclectic concert series anyone would ever expect to hear in one sitting each week. From swamp country crooners to church-worthy gospel singers to gnashing rock chicks, there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy.

Tonight, the remnants of Team Jennifer Hudson and Team Blake Shelton vie for the coveted final three spots on each team before we head into the live rounds, and there are quite a few surprises — for better and for worse.

Let’s walk through how the playoffs pay off for these two teams tonight.

TEAM JENNIFER

Jennifer Hudson’s first year on the American version of The Voice has already been filled with interesting choices, but tonight, her best options present themselves to her pretty clearly.

Davon Fleming

Holy mackerel, can this man sing. Jennifer Hudson knows what Davon Fleming is capable of — evidently even better than he does — and assigns him a song that’s probably nearer and dearer to her heart than most: “I Am Changing” from Dreamgirls, the movie that won her an Academy Award. Davon’s been good all season. Solidly, consistently so. But tonight, his coach is obviously trying to nudge him from solid contestant to frontrunner. This is a bold melody for him to approach. And Jennifer is right to trust him with it, because it certainly accelerates my appreciation of him.

Davon starts the song with subdued, almost breathy tones and progresses into some beautiful belts — it’s like we’re all riding an escalator into a past generation of groove music. His control is impressive, and even those moments when he doesn’t hit the expected note are powerful enough to work. He could stand to dial it down about two notches with the runs, but it’s still a top-notch showcase, and it’s hardly any wonder why the opposing coaches are left stunned and jealous of Jennifer Hudson.

Hannah Mrozak

All season, Hannah Mrozak has, for me, done just enough to slip through each round, but tonight’s performance isn’t quite as convincing as the rest. Singing Kesha’s “Learn to Let Go,” Hannah leans into some serious Leona Lewis tones, but it feels like a generic version of that radio sensation.

She’s still got a nice pop-rock sound at points, especially when she veers away from cry singing, but she mostly stays at full tilt, which is already old about 30 seconds in. It might be her lack of connection to the song, but the emotionlessness of this routine is obvious…



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