‘X Factor’ vs. ‘Voice’: Did Emblem3 deserve to lose?
On “The X Factor,” Emblem3 was eliminated this week, while Carly Rose Sonenclar, Tate Stevens and Fifth Harmony moved on. Earlier, on “The Voice,” Trevin Hunte was sent home, leaving Nicholas David, Terry McDermott and Cassadee Pope to duke it out.
As the contestants move forward toward the final verdicts, so do our “X Factor” vs. “Voice” rankings, which will take the singers from both shows and put them head to head each week. I’m choosing my top five performers from among the two shows, along with Times music writers Todd Martens and Chris Barton — and you can cast your votes too, at the bottom of this post.
Below are my picks for the week. To see what my co-judges have to say, watch their Google+ Hangout and view the performances.
1. Terry McDermott, ‘The Voice’
The production values were a bit over the top -- stained-glass projections, celestial lighting -- for McDermott’s take on the Beatles’ classic “Let It Be,” but there was nothing overwrought about his singing. His voice was pure and powerful, his performance altogether arresting. McDermott’s coach, Blake Shelton, called it “musical perfection,” and I can’t disprove that assessment by pinpointing any flaws. McDermott even got a hint of rasp in there, adding texture to his usually clear tone. Let it be known I am this Hobbit-haired Scottish rocker’s fan.
2. Cassadee Pope, ‘The Voice’
Pope has never really been among my favorites on “The Voice” this season, though I have admired some of her song choices. (Her take on Shelton and Miranda Lambert’s “Over You,” for example.) There’s something about her vibrato on the low end that sets me on edge -- it toys with my heartbeat like a vocal strobe light. But on “Stupid Boy” she harnessed that nervous flutter to fine emotional effect, and when she crescendoed to full voice, rendered it a nonissue. The song was restrained when it needed to be and commanding when that was called for. All in all, smartly played.
3. Nicholas David, ‘The Voice’
I’ve been pulling for David, with his Aaron Neville sound and Jesus look, to win the show since he first stepped out and sang during blind auditions, but something was a bit off with this performance of “You Are So Beautiful.” Was it the strange cobwebby set, his “girl’s” look of panic when their toddler began to fuss on camera, or whatever it was that made the singer have to sit down when it was all over? Who knows? All I know is, after a season of terrific performances from David, this one wasn’t his best. But even on an off night, the guy ain’t bad.
4. Emblem 3, ‘The X Factor’
It pains me to admit to admiring anything Simon Cowell has done on “The X Factor” this season -- not only because I’m sick of him calling female judges who disagree with him, even if they are 20 years old and have been bullied, “Cruella” -- but I have to at least credit him with backing off and letting these three ebullient young men do their thing on their mom’s favorite Peter Frampton song, “Baby, I Love Your Way.” They seemed to get a real charge out of taking the song apart and putting the pieces back together with a reggae beat and a rap -- so we did, too.
5. Tate Stevens, ‘The X Factor’
It was a pleasure to see Stevens -- he of the heartfelt, wife-dedicated country ballad -- kick up his boot heels and raise a glass (or more likely, a plastic cup) to good times with his best buddies on “Bonfire.” Yes, the stage effects -- heaps of tires, bursts of flame, a platform that went up and down for no discernible purpose -- were rather much, but Stevens had the strength and presence to stand up to them and shine. You can easily imagine him doing this sort of song in concert in a big arena. That’s saying something for a guy who, only a few months ago, was laying pavement. I tip my cowboy hat to him. Or L.A. Reid’s cowboy hat. Which looked ridiculous, by the way.
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