‘The Voice’ Top 10 Recap: Braiden Sunshine Stumbles, And Jordan Smith Soars

The Season 9 Voice Top 10 is upon us at last. It’s usually at this point where the show recap process becomes interesting. However many talented individuals remain, we are typically able to pick out at least one potential show winner. It’s also the point in the series when sub-par singers stay on the show longer than they should, leading to eliminations that are both surprising and upsetting.

Tonight’s episode of The Voice kicked off with a performance by Jeffrey Austin. When it comes to singing competitions, the first spot of the night is usually considered the “death” spot, as many Voice viewers tend to forget about it by the end of the show. Putting Jeffery Austin first is something I worried was akin to throwing one of the better Voice singers under the bus.

Then there’s the fact that his coach, Gwen Stefani, isn’t necessarily known for making ideal song choices.

How did Jeffrey do? Well, Jeffrey has been pretty solid for a while now, so it wasn’t surprising that he managed to salvage yet another one of Stefani’s questionable song choices in “Jealous” by Labrinth. Even though, for me, Austin is one of the better singers in the Top 10, I still feel like he’s somewhat underrated.

I’m glad he started with a great performance. I just hope it didn’t come so early that it gets completely overlooked.

When it came to Emily Ann Roberts, I can’t say she was terrible. The problem is that as adorable as she is, I have come to think of her as a “poor man’s Carrie Underwood.” When asked to sing songs with feeling and depth, her efforts tend to fall flat; sure, Emily Ann hits the notes, but there is no emotional conviction behind her voice.

Eventually, this is going to come back to hurt Roberts as more serious and emotionally convincing artists still on The Voice give the kind of performances she cannot. For now, I think she’s done enough to move on.

Next up was Braiden Sunshine. Before this week, he was teetering on the verge of being one of those artists who remains on the Voice at the expense of better artists. If he remains on The Voice, he will OFFICIALLY be that guy. Sunshine sang “Radioactive,” and I’m sure the Voice producers are going to pretend no one in the viewing audience has ever heard of Pentatonix.

Well, I have, and because the Sunshine cover was ripped directly from the Pentatonix cover of the Imagine Dragons song, the comparison was inevitable. Since Pentatonix is one of the best cover groups on the Internet, I consider this a horrible misstep that utterly highlights how mishandled Braiden’s coaching is. Not only was he given a song he could not sing, he was given a cover of the song he couldn’t hope to compare to.

Braiden Sunshine’s notes were off and it was so cringe-worthy by the end, I hit the mute button. Dear Voice producers, When contestants do covers of covers, please make sure their versions are at least as good. For instance, Season 8 Kimberly Nichole’s direct take on the Vintage Postmodern Jukebox version of “Creep” by Radiohead.

Shelby Brown expressed that she fundamentally understands the importance of emotionally connecting to a song, and to the Voice audience. A complaint you’ll note I just had concerning Emily Ann Roberts. Did she achieve her goal? Actually, yes. While I still believe that Brown has more to give vocally, I do feel that it was a good performance from her.

I’d be extremely surprised if on the back of a particularly powerful country performance, Shelby wasn’t still on The Voice next week.

What’s interesting about the Korin Bukowski performance of “Same Old Love” is that it was probably her best performance. It wasn’t earth-shattering by any means, but it was decent. As for Amy Vachal, she continues her pattern of keeping her sound the same but applying it to popular songs. This week she dusted off a childhood favorite in NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye.”

And it was this week that we learned that there is a flaw in this system. While it wasn’t the worst performance of the night, it was awkward. Amy Vachal can put a great spin on some songs, but her sleepy jazz voice makes other songs come across as…dull. And, that ain’t no lie.

If given the choice between Korin and Amy this week, I’d take Korin. Had I been told I’d make that decision two weeks ago, I would have laughed, yet here we are.

Jordan Smith seemed to slip a little last week and hoped to win back his “this is my season” crown with a cover of Jeff Buckley’s much-loved version of “Hallelujah.” The only reason I didn’t run to iTunes to give up my money is because I needed to finish writing this article. If this Voice cover doesn’t make the Top 5 on iTunes by the end of the night, I’ll be surprised.

As Smith improves, it becomes harder and harder to see how anyone’s going to beat him.

The action was interrupted with a song from Gwen Stefani, who appeared on stage in a wedding dress. Given that both she and her new beau Blake Shelton are now separated from their former spouses, I doubt the symbolism was lost on anyone.

After sandwiching a country star between two of the best pop vocalists on the show last week, The Voice Top 10 ended the night with a country duo (Barrett Baber and Zach Seabaugh) and Team Pharrell’s Madi Davis.

I was curious as to how The Voice was going to pull this off, as both Barrett and Zach had closed the show in the past.

Zach was up first with “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” and I actually have to give him props for attempting a more modern take versus the lazier option of an out-and-out Elvis impersonation. It was probably the most upbeat performance of the night, complete with hip gyrations. This is where I take the time to remind some people (once again) that he’s a minor. If you aren’t and you’re ogling dear Zach, this is where I tell you to please control yourselves — and stop being creepy.

In any case, it was a fun performance. He let loose and enjoyed himself in a way that few others did tonight. It was probably the best he’s ever done on the show.

Madi Davis makes me adore her voice more and more each week. She does with Cindy Lauper what Amy Vachal failed to do with NSYNC. Although both interpreted the songs in their unique way, it was far more evident that Madi Davis did more than put an indie pop spin on the song. Madi Davis also emoted well and brought life to her interpretation. Of course, given it’s an arrangement she made herself years ago, it’s clear she’s had time to make that song version of the song her own.

As far as I’m concerned, Davis was one of the best of the night.

Closing out the show was Barret Baber with “I Just Love To Lay You Down” by none other than Conway Twitty. It was one the better country performances of the night, but the “moment” felt forced.

I know he’s a part of the Team Blake “Country Mafia,” but he’s going to have to change it up with something decidedly non-country. Otherwise, he might be at risk of being a surprise elimination.

My overall recap verdict for The Voice Top 10 is there were more good performances than bad tonight, with Braiden Sunshine standing out as far and away the worst singer of the evening. At the opposite end of the spectrum was Jordan Smith. Based off of what I saw tonight — and that alone — I feel that Amy Vachal and Braiden Sunshine are most deserving of the Bottom 2. However, we’re getting closer to the finale. That means we’ll probably be gifted a game-changing upset instead.

There you have it, Season 9’s Top 10. Which Voice singers did you think gave the best (and worst) performances of the night? Who deserves to go home on Tuesday night? Please share your live reaction to The Voice Top 10 below!