Tonight’s semi final performance show saw half of the Top 8 contestants cut ahead of the grand finale next week. The results of the elimination were kind of expected (mostly) – more on that later.
Season 5 champ (and one of my favourite contestants ever on The Voice Australia) Alfie Arcuri also came back to debut his touching new single If They Only Knew – one of the best songs I’ve heard from a Voice alum. Download it now, people! Also, thank you the The Voice for supporting your winners, and a song all about a same-sex relationship.
Australian Idol runner-up Jessica Mauboy also performed a new (kind of annoying, if I’m going to be honest) single called Fallin’. Eh.
Let’s get recapping!
Fasika Ayallew | One Night Only from Dreamgirls | Team Kelly
I quite enjoyed the slower intro – we could really hear Fasika’s tone and power. When the band kicked in for the uptempo portion of the song, she was unfortunately drowned out a bit. Her pitch was pretty solid throughout the performance, though. I just feel that the song choice/styling felt a little too mature for her. As a result, I didn’t really get any emotional connection from her either – she kept us at an arm’s distance. Having fun is good and all, but it’s not going to bring in votes at such a crucial point in the competition. Grade: B-
Lucy Sugerman | Skinny Love – Bon Iver | Team Seal
I loved hearing Lucy on a song choice that allowed her to be tender. It felt really intimate and touching. This was a great song choice, which I feel like has been a big problem for her in the competition. Her tone sounded spectacular on this ballad, and the stage production was beautiful as well. I also felt like Lucy connected to this song, more so than in any of her previous performances. She’s really bringing her A game for the semi-finals. Grade: A
Rennie Adams | Lonely Boy – The Black Keys | Team Seal
This edgy song choice called to mind his epic Way Down We Go cover. Sure he was on the outer edge of a scream for the final third of his performance. And there were definitely a few bum notes. But I really enjoyed his commitment to the performance – he really went for it. He demonstrated some incredible range in hitting crazy glory notes, showcasing incredible power in his belt. This was complemented by his raspy tone, which was astutely pointed out by Delta. I also thought that the production really elevated the performance, contrary to what Boy George thought. Grade: B+
Side note: Can the awkward Seal and Boy George drama please just stop already?
Sarah Stone | Green Light – Lorde | Team Boy George
I think Sarah really needed to play to her strengths tonight – and that’s ballads. I agree with Seal – the song choice didn’t really do her any favours. Just because a song’s popular, doesn’t mean it’s flattering for an artist singing to make into the finale of a singing competition. Green Light isn’t really a good vocal showcase, even with some melodic changes. What’s worse is that Sarah seemed to be struggling with breath control, while keeping up with the tempo of the song. At least she had decent pitch and her tone sounded good? Grade: C+
Spencer Jones | One – U2 | Team Kelly
I wasn’t particularly enthused by this performance. While he hit all his notes well, the whole vocal was missing a little oomph. One is a hard song to cut into a small snippet – it needs time to ramp up. The overall energy of the performance flatlined a little. Spencer’s vocal too didn’t soar like I know it could have – there was a lack of dynamics and emotional connection in his delivery. Where was the man who slayed Skyfall a few weeks ago gone? Grade: C-
Hoseah Partsch | I Wanna Dance With Somebody – Whitney Houston | Team Boy George
By far his best performance of the season – perhaps even one of the best performances of the whole season. This was the first time since his Blind Audition that I was really moved by him – and I felt like Hoseah was equally connected to the emotion of his performance. The rearrangement of this song choice really worked well, and I loved how he was respectful of the melody. His vocal was equally stunning – everything from his incredible range, to his falsetto, to his soulful runs. Everything about this performance worked. Grade: A+
Berni Harrison | You Don’t Own Me – Lesley Gore | Team Seal
I loved hearing JHud’s notes on making the song more conversational in the rehearsal (I’ll take any chance to hear Ms. Hudson sanging). I think this was probably the best song choice Seal has given Berni so far this season. It allowed her so showcase her range and power. However, there was a few flat notes in the mix, and her modulation was a little awkward. As always, her tone became a bit unpleasant to the ear when singing in the upper parts of her range. Not only this, the sound mix in the arrangement sounded all kinds of strange. Grade: C+
Judah Kelly | Iris – Goo Goo Dolls | Team Delta
Massive props to Judah for powering through his sickness to perform tonight. Sickness aside, this definitely wasn’t his best work. There were pitch problems throughout, and I wish he made some effort to vary the melody up a little, so it wasn’t so repetitive. Still, he brought tenderness in the verse, and plenty of power in the chorus. I think that if anyone had a free pass this week, it was definitely him, though. Grade: B-
Eliminated: Spencer Jones, Rennie Adams (WHAT?!?!?!?!?!)
It wasn’t too surprising the Spencer was eliminated, given his Bottom 2 finish a few weeks ago, and based on his last few performances.
I had thought that Rennie would make it into the Top 6, though – he has had great back to back performances this season, aside from Let It Go in the first live show. However, I don’t think he would have made it into the Top 4 regardless of whether he had made it into the Top 6 or not. Alas, that wasn’t how the results stacked up.
EDIT: Rennie and Spencer have both posted on social media that they would have performed Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, respectively, had they made it to the Top 6.
Hoseah Partsch | Is This Love – Bob Marley | Team Boy George
Reggae is always hard to do on reality singing shows. I think that it might have been better to swap his performances around – he could’ve ended his night on a much stronger night with his impeccable Whitney Houston cover. This performance was fun and easy breezy – Hoseah does reggae really well, in terms of capturing the groove and sitting in the pocket. I just don’t think it was something that voters will grasp onto unfortunately. Grade: B
Side note: I love how they recycled the set piece they used for Tash Lockhart’s Riptide performance from last year.
Berni Harrison | Turning Tables – Adele | Team Seal
I actually enjoyed this performance – without a doubt her best work yet. She dialed back on the affected tone and showed lots gorgeous restraint in using her falsetto in some places. Berni nailed the key change this time around too. I don’t think we’ve heard her as emotional connected to a song yet this season. Aside from a few iffy notes here and there, the main vocal issue was a few odd phrasing choices with her timing. Still, this was her best work yet – I just think it was a little too late in the season for me to get fully on board with her. Grade: B+
Sarah Stone | If I Were A Boy – Beyonce | Team Boy George
I don’t think either of the song choices for Sarah tonight were the best. With If I Were A Boy, she had to deal with the inevitable and impossible Beyonce comparisons. I think Sarah desperately needed a touching, stripped back ballad (in the vain of Autumn or Why) that she could truly dig into. Still, her phrasing and the buttery tone in her lower register sounded lovely in the verses. While she brought power to her glory notes in the chorus, they weren’t as controlled pitch-wise as they could have been. I guess Boy George wanted her to go big for this crucial moment in the competition – I just don’t think that’s what Sarah excels at though. Grade: B
Lucy Sugerman | It’s Oh So Quiet – Björk | Team Seal
Oh my goodness. What just happened? I think this was by far the worst song choice Seal has given her – Wild Things might have actually been better. The zany nature of the song forced Lucy to tap into a childishness in her delivery – something that goes against the mature teen brand she has had all season. Yet she didn’t really commit to the song – her delivery seemed a little rehearsed and robotic. The energy level of her vocal seemed a little flat too. As Delta alluded to, she kept awkwardly switching between belting and using her mixed voice – a sign that she doesn’t know her voice well enough. Similar to Hoseah, I think that Lucy would’ve fared better if her songs had been swapped around in tonight’s set lineup. Grade: F
Judah Kelly | Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen | Team Delta
The most intimate performance we’ve heard from Judah, it was also a reminder of why he deserves to win the competition. Just him and a guitar on the stage, there were no distractions from his glorious vocals. The tenderness of his performance have me goosebumps and made every hair stand on end. I loved how he didn’t floor it like he has proven he can – he kept it nice and intimate. I also think that saving this song for his final performance of tonight was perfect and will benefit him going into the finale. Grade: A+
Fasika Ayallew | I Have Nothing – Whitney Houston | Team Kelly
This is one of the most difficult songs a contestant has tackled all season – and one of the most overdone song choices on reality singing shows. I think both of her song choices tonight really aged her. This is unfortunate, because she is probably the most current contestant still left in the competition. Now about the actual performance. I don’t think there was particularly bad about Fasika’s take on this treacly Whitney Houston staple. There just wasn’t anything new or exciting either – but I guess that really comes down to the song choice; there wasn’t anything she could’ve done to spice it up. Additionally, she was just missing a fraction of the passion and gusto that the song really requires – she also botched the key change, and hit a few flat notes thereafter, but recovered well. Grade: B
Eliminated: Berni Harrison, Sarah Stone
Top 4: Judah Kelly, Fasika Ayallew, Hoseah Partsch, Lucy Sugerman
At first, I was kind of surprised that Lucy made it into the finale. But in hindsight, I shouldn’t have been, since she has had so much hype surrounding her all season. I think her Skinny Love performance from earlier on tonight really helped her get over the line.
Based on her Bottom 3 finish last week, I knew that Berni didn’t really have the best chances at making it into the finale. And even though she was a favourite of mine, I wasn’t all that shocked that Sarah fell short of the Top 4 either. With stand out performances of Autumn, Why and Gravity, I hoped that her body of work would get her into the finale in spite of her last few lukewarm performances. I’m still a massive Sarah Stone fan though!