The Voice Top 9: Ruling With Restraint

Hey! Who turned off the power? As we head into the Top 9 performances on The Voice, some of the night’s top performances were turned in by typical powerhouses who flipped the switch and showcased vulnerability and restraint rather than relying on the rasp, the raw and the power of their voices. So let’s get into the Top 9 performances, which shows a shakeup in the Top 5.

5. Mary Sarah, “My Church” (Team Blake)

After a few weeks of song choices that didn’t seem to fit, Team Blake‘s Mary Sarah appears to have righted the ship. With her performance of Maren Morris’ “My Church,” Mary allowed the sass and gospel in her voice to come through, while her stage presence commanded the audience’s attention. If Mary continues to make wise song choices that play to her classic country leanings and allow her to be a true performer, there’s no reason to think she won’t be one of the final competitors. Pharrell says he felt Mary really connected to the song, while Adam says he thought it seemed like Mary’s song.

4. Laith Al-Saadi, “We’ve Got Tonight” (Team Adam)

As stated, some of the vocalists who’ve been leaning on the true power of their voices showed something different in restraint. Team Adam‘s Laith Al-Saadi may be the one taking the biggest risk though. After ascending in recent weeks with classic rock songs that played to the strength on his booming bluesy voice and wicked guitar skills, Laith opted for a softer selection with Bob Seger’s ballad, “We’ve Got Tonight.” Gone was Laith’s trusty guitar, but he found himself at home on a keyboard. There were no power growls and rasp in this performance. In its place was a nuanced performance that showed some vulnerability in his sound. With the exception of his Peter Gabriel performance, Laith has been consistently on his game. Pharrell encouraged for Laith to be voted through, and Adam says there were some pin-drop moments during his performance, a sure show of respect.

3. Hannah Huston, “Say You Love Me” (Team Pharrell)

Team Pharrell‘s Hannah Huston has been at her best this season when testing out songs that allow her voice to boom and the power and intensity of her stage presence take over. But she’s shown she can do that with excellence and quite honestly, it was time to break out of that comfort zone. Looking elegant in white, Hannah performed Jessie Ware’s “Say You Love Me” with a gentle grace and ease heretofore not matched early in the song, only to have the emotion of the song amplified toward the end with her backing singers. Blake called it his favorite performance from her from the season. Christina commended her growth and confidence and Pharrell says that she sang with intention and grace.┬áHannah’s becoming a true contender for the crown.

2. Bryan Bautista, “1+1” (Team Christina)

Like Mary Sarah, Team Christina‘s Bryan Bautista was stronger earlier in the season, then had a few weeks of song selections that didn’t quite connect. But with his smooth and soulful take on Beyonce’s “1+1,” there weren’t any audible missteps. Adam says he admired Bryan’s higher register and Christina urged Beyonce to duet with Bryan if she sees the performance. This was arguably his best performance since the show went to the live rounds, and it puts him right back in the hunt for the title.

1. Adam Wakefield, “Love Has No Pride” (Team Blake)

As has been stated, one of Adam Wakefield‘s strengths is the ability to tell a story with his voice, and his latest performance was no exception. Choosing the soulful tear in your beer ballad “Love Has No Pride” from Linda Ronstadt, Adam allowed the soul and vulnerability to shine through, making the listener feel the heartache along the way. Add in his sorrowful keyboard playing and a killer horn backing, and this felt like the night’s top performance before wowing with a powerful soulful moment. Christina loved the fiery performance, while Blake said it was his best performance.

But wait, where’s Alisan Porter? The season-long frontrunner from Team Christina had her first misstep of the season with her overblown rendition of Aerosmith’s “Cryin’.” While we doubt that she’s in any danger of going home, it’s the first sign of a crack in the armor we’ve seen all season. Yes, she was able to bring the power to the song, but at times it just felt too much. She’ll need to avoid a song choice like this going forward.

We also feel pretty safe about Team Adam’s Shalyah Fearing, who delivered a soulful and at times powerful rendition of the Sam Cooke favorite “A Change Is Gonna Come” while backed by a string section. Shalyah could have arguably been Top 5 fairly easily after her latest performances as well.

That leaves Team Blake’s Paxton Ingram and Team Christina’s Nick Hagelin in the bottom spots. Paxton made an inspired choice to alter the arrangement of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” starting it off slow, and picking up the pace a little bit, but never really reaching the slick, stylized upbeat rendition of the ’80s classic. While Paxton made the song truly his own, the arrangement also kept him from having to reach any of the high notes we’ve come to expect from the song, making it a safer choice.

As for Nick Hagelin, since his return to the show it’s been a mix of singer-songwriter soft rock and soulful pop hits and his latest performance was no different. Saddled up to a keyboard, Hagelin took on Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” which fit somewhere in the middle of those two styles. His falsetto, when on, is top notch, but it’s starting to feel as though he’s going to the same well over and over. So we expect to see Paxton and Nick vying to stay on for another week.

The Voice - Season 10

Come back Tuesday night at 8PM ET on NBC to see which artists advance from the Top 9 on The Voice.

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