The Voice returns to the airwaves live on Monday night as we get down to the Top 20 competitors of this season. With the herd thinned, it’s time to look at the most legit competitors for The Voice crown. So let’s get to it.
20. Jeffery Austin (Team Gwen) – Admittedly, Jeffery might be the least known quantity among the Top 20. His smooth and soulful rendition of “Lay Me Down” landed him on Team Gwen during the Blind Audition, but The Voice did him no favors when his Battle Round was relegated to a montage. His take on “Turning Tables” led to his Knockout Rounds victory, but there has yet to be that “it” moment to separate him from the pack.
19. Zach Seabaugh (Team Blake) – He’s got a smooth voice and there’s no doubt that the young ladies doing the voting will get behind him when they get to have their say, but like Jeffery, he got montaged during the Knockout Rounds, which puts him at a bit of a disadvantage. His best performance to date was likely his Blind Audition version of “Take Your Time.” He has a bright future, but at present, Team Blake’s other vocalists feel a little more seasoned.
18. Blaine Mitchell (Team Adam) – Adam snagged Blaine as a steal from Team Blake, and while he’s done an admirable job on tracks like Train’s “Drops of Jupiter” and Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll,” neither seemed to really give him that breakout moment. His Knockout Round performance of James Bay’s “Hold Back the River” showed promise and he seemed more in his comfort zone both vocally and delivering his best stage presence to date. He has the opportunity to rise higher than this ranking, but song choice will be key and Adam may be the best possible coach to help him in this area.
17. Morgan Frazier (Team Blake) – Her unique rendition of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me” during the Blind Audition has been her best performance to date. She has the country chops and Blake can take her far, but there’s not that much separation between her and Emily Ann Roberts on Team Blake and only one will likely be left standing after this next round. They’ve already squared off once in the Battle Rounds, but song choice may ultimately decide her fate.
16. Braiden Sunshine (Team Gwen) – Did anyone see that coming? Braiden Sunshine’s Knockout Rounds performance of “Feeling Good” was a true revelatory moment for the youngster. But how far can he go and how far will his voice allow him to go? He can be scary good, but may also have the most risk of hitting a note that cracks. There’s little doubt that this teen will get there as a performer and singer in his life, but the more seasoned vocalists could send him packing soon.
15. Darius Scott (Team Pharrell) – Like Blake is with Morgan and Emily Ann, Pharrell Williams has an equally difficult decision with Darius Scott and Mark Hood, each bringing their own stamp to soulful tracks. While Scott is the more seasoned vocalist, Hood has that “It” factor with his stage presence and personality. Odds are that both won’t slip through this next round and Scott likely needs to up his stage presence to advance. Darius wowed with “On Broadway,” but sadly got montaged during his Battle Round. On another team, Darius might stand out more, but Team Pharrell has plenty of soul.
14. Madi Davis (Team Pharrell) – Madi Davis had her breakout moment with “A Case of You” during the Knockout Round and even had Pharrell wowed enough to allow the favorite Amy Vachal to slip away to Team Adam. She has a unique sound, but how far she goes may depend upon her ability to connect onstage more than it will on her voice.
13. Emily Ann Roberts (Team Blake) – As previously stated, there’s not that much difference between Emily Ann and Morgan Frazier and only one likely advances. Her Blind Audition of “I Hope You Dance” was a standout moment, she showed some sass with “I’m That Kind of Girl,” and “Cowboy Take Me Away” kept her in the fight for the prize. But her biggest competition right now lies on her own team.
12. Korin Bukowski (Team Gwen) – The awkward girl with the awesome voice had a revelatory moment in the Knockout Rounds with her melodic and touching cover of “All I Want.” Her take on Andrew McMahon’s “Cecilia and the Satellite” in her Blind Audition was also a standout moment. But as she enters the live shows, song selection will be key and choosing more dynamic tracks that deliver “wow” moments and show more range will help her move up this ranking chart.
11. Ivonne Acero (Team Blake) – There is an adorable factor with Ivonne, who has the “happy to be here” attitude and the underdog story that fans are gravitating toward. She’s the type of vocalist and personality that could very well gain momentum once fan voting enters the equation. But as we saw in the Knockout Rounds, there’s more than just likability going on here. She raised her game by leaps and bounds with “Part of Me,” which has been one of the highlights of the season. Can she maintain that level? If so, she could very well reach the final night.
10. Keith Semple (Team Adam) – Keith has the stage presence to spare and his voice is finely tuned to delivering solid renditions of rock classics. His rendition of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” in the Battle Rounds remains his best moment. But we need to see something different from Keith that’s outside of his comfort zone in order for him to move higher. That may be coming as we enter the live rounds. Just a reminder that Coach Adam faced a similar dilemma with Tony Lucca a few years back and used an outside-the-box song choice to ride all the way to the final night. Could Keith Semple do the same?
9. Regina Love (Team Gwen) – There is nothing but love for Regina Love, who has an amazing voice and stage presence. But the live shows have not been kind to performers of a certain age throughout the history of the show. While Regina is an absolutely amazing talent, here’s to hoping that the woman who so supremely commanded the stage with “Midnight Train to Georgia” gets a fair shake from the traditionally younger voting audience.
8. Evan McKeel (Team Pharrell) – In Pharrell we trust. When left to his own devices, Evan’s rendition of “Typical” barely registered, but when Pharrell discovered his Stevie Wonder fascination and made him sing, then all the coaches got where his strength lied. He surprised on the Pharrell-suggested “Higher Ground,” and his take on Switchfoot’s “Dare You to Move,” an Evan choice, was powerful but maybe not the dynamic performance you’d want to win it all. He’s got the voice, he’s got the presence, but will need to make the right picks to advance to the finals.
7. Shelby Brown (Team Adam) – Adam is in prime position to win it all this year as his team is stacked. His competitive streak so makes him want to win it all with a country artist just to show Blake. And Shelby Brown is one of the, if not the strongest country performer this year. But not being part of Team Blake may end up being her downfall as it’ll eventually become too hard for Adam to choose her over Amy Vachal and Jordan Smith. She’ll need to step up her game to best either.
6. Riley Biederer (Team Pharrell) – Riley has come out of nowhere and showed great improvement each week. She’s got personality and sass to spare during her performances, wowing everyone with her breakout moment “XO” during the Knockout Rounds. She lost out to Evan McKeel once before, but got stolen. Now back with Team Pharrell, Riley appears to have eclipsed Evan.
5. Amy Vachal (Team Adam) – The lilting voice of Amy Vachal is just beautiful, but she’s running into being pigeonholed in a certain sound and style. Between “Dream a Little Dream” and “Sunday Kind of Love,” songs Vachal chose, she feels like she’s of a certain era and vibe. Even her Battle Round of “To Love Somebody” falls in that vein. She has the poise and polish to win it all, but may need to step out of her comfort zone to do that.
4. Barrett Baber (Team Blake) – He comes across by far the most polished and ready-for-radio-now performer on Team Blake. And with help from Shelton, he should have a bright future in country music. His rendition of “Colder Weather” connected well, but Barrett may need to step away from the country standards songbook in order to garner a more universal appeal.
3. Viktor Kiraly (Team Gwen) – Already a vet of singing competitions overseas, Viktor is primed to make a run at The Voice title. He has the presence and when it come to soul and being able to show some range, he’s just got it. He’s hit some “wow” notes and his command of the complex “If I Ain’t Got You” certainly placed him as one of the frontrunners.
2. Mark Hood (Team Pharrell) – He’s got the voice, he’s got the personality and he’s a live wire onstage. He’s taken songs that are well known and put his stamp all over them. The only thing standing in Mark Hood’s way is himself. As we saw during the rehearsals for “Stand By Me,” there is still a little confidence issue for this young singer. But the sky is the limit here. Unless there’s a bad song choice, it’s hard to envision him not being part of the final night.
1. Jordan Smith (Team Adam) – Like Sawyer Fredericks last year, it appears to be Jordan Smith’s competition to lose. Much has been made about his voice and how it is uniquely different and shows such great range. The show is called The Voice, but ultimately there are more factors that go into winning the whole thing. So long as his presence can match his voice, Jordan should cruise to a final night appearance.
So there you have it –my Top 20 Rankings for The Voice. Be sure to tune in at 8PM ET / PT Monday night on NBC as The Voice Live Rounds begin.
**** So which singers are your favorites on The Voice?? Do you agree with our Top 20 rankings (though I am partial since I’ve interviewed these following singers, my personal favorites are, in no particular order, Jordan Smith, Shelby Brown, Madi Davis, and Amy Vachal). Feel free to comment below!! – GS
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