The Voice: The Top 5 Performances (Seasons 1-6)
5. Cassadee Pope - "Over You" (Season 3, 2012)
Cassadee would go on to be the most successful winner so far from The Voice with a platinum single and country chart success. Her cover of the Blake Shelton-penned ode to his brother is not sung perfectly, but her emotion is far beyond expectations for a reality show contestant. The shakiness in her voice in the beginning of the song lends a believable air to the ache and tentative start to the lyrics, the dull ache of losing the security you took for granted and will never find again. Her voice is plaintive towards the end, defiant, soaring, poignant. The second version embedded below
4. Juliet Simms - "Oh Darling" (Season 2, 2012)
The original Beatles tune is a study in perfect pop songs: it starts tender and sweet, with harmonies and doo-wop backing vocals, a plea from a star-crossed lover outside the window of a teenager in a poodle skirt and silk ribbons in her hair. It grows increasingly desperate in that now-archetypal Paul McCartney howl, with the hint of something unhinged.
From the first note, Juliet has the kind of voice that walks a fine line between gravelly and nasaly - it's intriguing and infuses the classic song with a palpable edge. She pays tribute to the original, painting different colors in the already-drawn lines. Juliet brings a sense of world-weariness to the song that's different from Paul's teenage dream. It's a scorned lover at the end of a love affair, a woman who's angry both at herself and the man she needs despite herself.
Check out this link for her audition (sadly no YouTube embeddable links).
3. Vicci Martinez - "Afraid To Sleep" (Season 1, 2011)
"Afraid to Sleep" was Vicci's swing-for-the-fences home run original song during the finale of The Voice's first season (previously covered by Dido). Dido's version sounds instantly dated with a 2003 beat and a lilted, clipped, detached, unpleasant tone. The passion of the lyrics simply is not there. Vicci brings to life the regret, fear, and innate sadness lyrics express, with more than a hint of bitterness and anger. Vicci sings with the regret of not appreciating what you have when you had it, blurry nights spent forcing wakefulness, mirages in the corners of your eyes in the darkness. This remains one of the most played songs on my iTunes.
2. Sissaundra Lewis - "Oh Sherrie" (Season 6, 2014)
The opening is a church organ, heavy and triumphant, and it's a perfect metaphor for Sissaundra's voice as she figuratively takes the listener to church. The fact that Sissaundra did not go on to win Season 6 of The Voice is an indescribable travesty. She has a confidence in her voice, assuring Sherrie that love is worth fighting for. She "makes it look easy" despite a high degree of difficulty in Steve Perry's biggest solo hit which went on to inspire the Rock of Ages Broadway play. Her voice is passionate but never descends into theatrics or histrionics.
1. Vicci Martinez - "Jolene" (Season 1, 2011)
"Jolene" is the kind of song that gets covered in a million ways, but this is the definitive cover of this Dolly Parton song about a plea to the other woman. The live version is even better than the studio version, if you can believe it, but no matter how I search the web, I can't seem to find it. Haunting and achingly gorgeous, a full-bodied voice, and a sad resignation towards the end of the song. The pleas are crystal-clear, precise in their requests, but by the end, Vicci's narrator dissolves into only being able to whisper Jolene's name over and over again,
Watch The Voice on NBC; it's pretty much always on!