The Voice recap: To Reba or Not to Reba

Three artists give their best performances of the season, four give their worst, and Sisaundra continues to be Sisaundra.
Ep. 19 | Aired Apr 28, 2014

VIVA MCLAUGHLIN: After giving her best performance to date, could Audra McLaughlin return to frontrunner status in the fight to the finals? (Spoiler: Yes.)

Blake’s new mentor is producer Scott Hendricks, who has a big fan in Audra McLaughlin. Now, I’ve been wavering on Audra. I began the season rooting for her, then I reneged a bit on my love when I decided that her lack of personality was her biggest detriment, but this week marks a big turnaround in my support of Audra.

The reason for the changing of the guards is Reba McEntire’s “You Lie.” Frankly I can’t find any fault with Audra’s performance tonight. She looks like a Greek goddess and sounds like a bona fide country artist, ready for any radio or music festival. Yes, I still wish she had the undeniable pep to her that would make me stand up (ha!) and say, “That’s a star,” but I think that could potentially come with time. This week’s performance really reminds me of Carrie Underwood in her early weeks on Idol, and so at this point in the game, it’s safe to say that Audra will surely be around another week, and could even find her way into the Top 4. 

The most promising singer in the competition, Josh Kaufman, is up next in the fourth slot of the night, which is weird if only because we’re so used to seeing Josh close out a show with his unmitigated awesomeness.

Joining forces with Team Usher and his mentor Natural (ugh, what?), Josh is given Kenny Loggins’ “This Is It.” I’m already expecting it to be Josh’s worst performance, only because he’s due for a dud and who better to blame than Kenny Loggins? My gut is correct—it’s not that Josh’s worst is bad, and in fact, Josh’s “worst” is far better than some of the other artists’ “best” performances. But tonight is just not up to the thrill of his usual offerings.

If the song sounds particularly porny, it’s only because it actually is super porny. The backing funk sounds like every ‘70s erotica film ever, and the disco light show in the background doesn’t do anything to get rid of that tacky underscoring. Josh is of course fantastic, but the song is repetitive and unrelenting, which I suppose is a necessary low in Josh’s string of fabulous highs. Josh shouldn’t be in trouble tomorrow, but knowing that he would easily score the #VoiceSave anyway, I’m not too worried about him making it through to next week.

If competition-making performances abound tonight, then Audra lit the path for “New Jersey Internet sensation” Christina Grimmie, who totally takes a hold of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” and turns it into something entirely new—which was admittedly the entire point of Adam’s devious, brilliant plan.

My only critique with Christina is the discrepancy between her stunningly mature voice and the demeanor she portrays when the music is off. She reverts back into this teenage shell, bordering on saccharine and overly tweeny (her last-minute “Shakira, you look beautiful!” mumble being a prime example). I’m not sure what to make of Christina’s off-stage persona, but regardless, I’m a big fan of what she does on stage with both new and old songs, and I can see myself listening to her down the line.

The always delightful Jake Worthington teams up with Blake for a meaty George Strait song. Part of the fun of watching Jake on The Voice is seeing him interact with Blake, whose father figure relationship is a total joy to watch. I get the sense that Blake will not let Jake out of his life even after the show ends. Their interaction is also responsible for these three hilarious quotes:

Jake: “I never thought I’d be on iTunes! They couldn’ta gotten a uglier picture of me.”

Jake: “If I knew any other language I’d tell you thank you in that, but I don’t.”

Blake: “You want to hug now, or is it weird?”

Performance-wise, it’s a softer, slower side of Jake, who seems a little less at home with such a slow-burn, but sounds as pure and wonderful as ever. The coaches don’t lay on love like they have in the past—this is probably one of Jake’s more forgettable performances, which isn’t to say it wasn’t good—but there’s no doubt that Jake will return next week to rock the stage again with a more upbeat song and look just as adorable as ever.

NEXT: “Up next: Bria Kelly takes on Avril Lavigne” (uh oh)

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