On last night’s Top 10 episode of The Voice, Billy Gilman returned to his country roots with a moving rendition of Martina McBride’s “Anyway.” The 28-year-old former child country star has been steadily improving every week and delivers McBride’s soaring notes with new confidence and poise.
Typically opting for more pop-flavored song choices, Gilman’s song choice not only tipped his hat to his country beginnings, but appealed to the show’s passionate country music viewership – which Gilman will need to leverage as competition gets more fierce. But coach Adam Levine doesn’t seem too concerned about his odds: “That kind of versatility [and] range is what creates a winner on the show. . .it’s not that it’s perfect, it’s that it’s perfect and soulful,” he comments prior to Gilman’s performance.
With a side-glance and the outline of a budding smile in the early part of his performance, it’s as if Gilman is giving a nod to the personal significance the song holds for him – the music industry may implore him to go country, but he’s chasing his dreams on his own terms. Gilman’s version climaxes in the second half as he belts, “When I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should, but I do it anyway” with a sea of mournful violins in the background.
Post-performance, Gilman doesn’t look too thrilled with Blake Shelton’s commentary that “country music is still what I think of [for you] and this is why,” but that was quickly erased by coach Miley Cyrus’s awe-struck praise of “[This song was big] enough for your voice. . .[That performance] heightened what you already are – which is maybe the winner of The Voice.”
Meanwhile, Team Adam’s pop-country favorite Josh Gallagher also can claim one of the night’s standout performances. Gallagher brings Tim McGraw’s uptempo, if slightly subdued “Real Good Man” to life with infectious energy and down-home charm. Levine sums up what many viewers were likely thinking. “So happy for you because the Josh before tonight was a great singer and great guy…but tonight a country star was on the stage doing that,” he says.
Later on, Sundance Head lives up to expectations, blowing the crowd away with a bluegrass (“Can we get a real banjo player?” humorously begs coach Blake Shelton, pre-show) spin on Tom T. Hall’s “Me and Jesus” (also recorded by George Jones and Tammy Wynette, as well as Brad Paisley for 2014’s Moonshine in the Trunk). “Bluegrass, blues, gospel, country, soul. . .every time you sing, I’m just right at home,” offers coach Alicia Keys. Backed up by vocalists, violins, and, yes, a real banjo, Head’s performance also earns some effusive praise from Shelton. “I just want to congratulate you. We’ve never experienced any kind of performance like that, ever, in eleven seasons of doing this show,” he says.
The Voice airs again tonight at 8 p.m. ET on NBC with a performance by special guest Dolly Parton.