‘The Voice’ addresses last week's scandal; ‘Voice’ viewers still mad
Last week, in the biggest scandal in The Voice history, aka #Bathrobegate, Adam Levine’s favorite team member, Reagan Strange, won the Instant Save sing-off without actually, um, singing. (She mysteriously sat on the sidelines wearing full hair and makeup and — you guessed it — a bathrobe.) Meanwhile, Adam threw his other contestant, DeAndre Nico — who actually did sing, and quite well, for the Save — under the bus. Every Voice fan in America, and even Adam’s fellow coach Kelly Clarkson, was outraged.
Viewers were still mad six days later, as Adam and Reagan returned for Monday’s top eight performance episode. So the show attempted to address the #Bathrobegate fallout.
Judging from reactions on Twitter, people are still mad.
To backtrack for context: Shortly after his controversial elimination, DeAndre did a TV interview with 12 News during which he seemed to hold a grudge, saying Adam had “sold [him] out” and vaguely implying that Reagan’s reason for not singing last week had something to do with “anxiety.” (Team Blake’s Dave Fenley, the other contestant who sang for the Save and was eliminated, seemed to substantiate this theory, when he replied to a concerned fan’s tweet saying Reagan had “no illness.”) Then, Reagan posted a defensive tweet (“I don’t expect some people to understand. They weren’t there.”) that did little to calm the pitchfork-wielding Voice masses.
Anyway, this Monday, Adam — who had been MIA on Twitter since last week’s results show debacle — claimed that everything was now peachy and that all had been forgiven. “It was a strange week, but it’s over now,” he insisted unconvincingly. “DeAndre’s my boy. I love him. We talked.”
Fans didn’t buy it, of course. When Adam and Reagan FaceTimed with DeAndre during Monday’s rehearsal, viewers balked at how staged it all seemed and even joked that DeAndre was probably contractually obligated to play along. And when Adam and Reagan starred in a supposedly feel-good segment/stunt for Toys for Tots, the interweb collectively rolled its eyes at that attempt at damage control.
Judging from Adam’s post-performance comments, he knows #Bathrobegate has doomed Reagan and is likely to keep her out of next week’s finale. “Regardless of what happens tomorrow and next week, I think that you have a very bright future, and it’s been an honor being your coach, no matter what happens,” was his kiss-off.
It certainly would have been a competitive environment for 14-year-old Reagan even under ideal circumstances: This Monday, the top eight contestants all sang twice — once solo, once in a duet — and many were at the top of their game. Let’s take a look.
Sarah Grace (Team Kelly), “Sign of the Times”
Sarah is the biggest risk-taker left this season, and the risk she took last week paid off. I hope this one does too. Her piano performance of Harry Styles’s glammy, celestial power ballad was reminiscent of Lady Gaga in Joanne mode or Jena Irene doing “Can’t Help Falling in Love” on American Idol — so stately, so sophisticated. “I don’t know if I’m more a fan of your bravery or your talent,” Jennifer Hudson told her. I’m a fan of both.
MaKenzie Thomas (Team J.Hud), “Vision of Love”
MaKenzie has never shied away from covering divas like Celine Dion and Whitney Houston, and this week featured her second Mariah Carey cover of the season. She’s a brave lady! But she’s also the one contestant left on the show with the chops to pull it off. MaKenzie didn’t just seem ready to win The Voice here; she seemed ready to win a Grammy. And the crowd and the coaches were going wild. “This show is called The Voice, and that is what this show is all about,” raved a stank-faced, awestruck Kelly. Blake Shelton called this “one of the best performances I’ve seen.” Before this week, I would have predicted MaKenzie would be a middle-pack contender, but I think she sealed her top four fate with this tour de force.
Kymberli Joye (Team Kelly), “Never Alone”
Kymberli is a gospel singer through and through, and religious performances always do well on The Voice, so there was no reason for Kymberli to veer away from the formula that’s been working for the past couple of weeks. Belting Tori Kelly and Kirk Franklin’s gospel/pop ballad, she once again seemed Dove Awards-ready. But will it be enough, following scene-stealing fellow diva MaKenzie so quickly? Maybe not. But I do think if Kymberli lands in the middle pack Tuesday, she has a good shot of clinching the fourth finale spot via the Save.
Chris Kroeze (Team Blake), “Can’t You See”
Chris also stuck with his own formula (hairy ‘70s Southern rock) that made him last week’s surprise No. 1 Apple Music streamer. “Chris just stays true to who he is. He’s the guy that brings the party to the room,” Blake asserted. I actually liked this Marshall Tucker Band cover more than last week’s lightweight Garth Brooks song; it had more grit and soul and all-around shreddery. It was solid, if not remarkable. But power-voting Blake Shelton and country fans shouldn’t be ruled out, so don’t be shocked if Chris squeaks by.
Kennedy Holmes (Team J.Hud), “This Is Me”
I enjoyed seeing Kennedy’s more playful pop side last week, when she dancetastically covered Meghan Trainor. So I was disappointed to see her retreat to her predictable pageant ways with this done-to-death Greatest Showman standard. I guess she too wanted to play it safe. That being said, I can’t find fault with Kennedy’s technical skills. She’s nearly at the same level as Kymberli and MaKenzie, and she will only grow more impressive with age and experience. I just hope that she takes a few more chances when she inevitably embarks on her post-Voice career.
Reagan Strange (Team Adam), “You Are the Reason”
“I called to tell you I love you and all of the extra stuff, don’t worry about. Do your best,” DeAndre assured Reagan during their contractually mandated FaceTime conversation. And, well, she did. This Calum Scott ballad, which Reagan performed while standing in a neon circle that looked like a castoff from the set of The Four, was pretty and pleasant. It might have even gotten this former frontrunner into the finale if #Bathrobegate had never happened. But it probably wasn’t enough to prove to her many doubters that she deserved to compete this week over the ousted DeAndre and Dave.
Chevel Shepherd (Team Kelly), “Blue”
This old-school classic — originally recorded in 1958 by Bill Mack and most famously recorded by another country teen, LeAnn Rimes — played to all of Chevel’s strengths, showcasing her bell-clear tone and rodeo-queen yodeling skills. “This is pure country. This is what I fell in love with as a little girl. … They don’t make it like this anymore! And I miss it! And I want you to win this show because I want the record from you,” said Kelly, possibly speaking for much of America.
Kirk Jay (Team Blake), “I Swear”
Kirk is a genteel balladeer, so he chose wisely with this sentimental John Michael Montgomery tune. It was a slightly sleepy way for him to close the show, crooning an adult contemporary number in a beige cardigan on top of a beige Henley next to an open fire, and his voice sounded more tired and ragged than usual. But still, I think Kirk could’ve worn a bathrobe and not sung at all, and he’d still make the finale.
Kennedy & Reagan, “Happy”/“Tightrope”
This perky Pharrell Williams/Janelle Monae medley was a cute choice for the show’s two youngest America’s sweethearts. But the another-level Kennedy absolutely outshined the not-ready-for-prime-time Reagan in every way, despite between a full year younger. Kennedy seemed like the superstar pro, while Reagan seemed like some amateur fan who’d wandered onstage.
Kirk & Chevel, “She’s Country”/”Country Must Be Countrywide”
“CheKirk” mashed up Jason Aldean and Brantley Gilbert, and it was raucous and rawkin’. It was bit throwaway, and probably won’t sway the votes much, but these two are already locks for the finale, so why not let them blow off a little steam and have some fun?
Kymberli & MaKenzie, “Got to Be Real”/“Best of My Love”
Damnnn. There was a whole lotta power on the stage during this dynamite disco-diva duet. This was real, all right. I felt like I was watching VH1 Divas Live. Why didn’t Jennifer throw both of her shoes at this?
Sarah Grace & Chris Kroeze, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”/”Chain of Fools”
This “collision of rock, country, and soul” between a high-schooler and a 27-year-old worked much better than I expected. It was a full-on honky jam sesh, with Sarah on skronky blue piano and wailing on guitar, and it was my favorite duet of the evening. And what especially surprised me was how Sarah not only held her own but actually upstaged Chris.
So now comes prediction time. On Tuesday, three contestants will automatically advance via the public vote, and I believe they will be Kirk, MaKenzie and Chevel. The two lowest vote-getters will automatically go home, and I think they will be Reagan and — based on past voting patterns — and Kymberli. That leaves Sarah, Chris and Kennedy in the middle, vying for that fourth spot; if that’s the case, Kennedy has it in the bag.
But really, it could go any which way. Heck, even Reagan could get another crazy reprieve. Tune in Tuesday to find out.
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