New Photos: Ranking 'The Voice' Season 8's Top 20 - Rolling Stone
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New Photos: Ranking ‘The Voice’ Season 8’s Top 20

Meet this season’s contestants and find out who to root for

The VoiceThe Voice

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The Voice’ Season 8 top 20 semifinalists have been revealed, and Yahoo Music’s Reality Rocks has the cast’s new photos! And, of course, we have opinions, too. Check out our definitive ranking of the contestants, and get your office pool going before next week’s Live Playoffs.

Sawyer Fredericks

MEMBER OF: Team Pharrell

PROS: Sawyer is a true original with a gorgeous voice. He also has amazing hair and looks like the long-lost fourth Hanson brother. What’s not to love?

CONS: ‘The Voice’ is a show with a history of experienced contestants; five out of the past seven winners were bona fide industry veterans, in fact. Is this shy, 15-year-old farm boy in over his little flaxen head?

Kimberly Nichole

MEMBER OF: Team Xtina

PROS: Kimberly is a total superstar in her custom tutu skirts, and unlike some of this season’s nervous newbies, she owns the stage, every single time. She’s pure dynamite, and she’s a pro.

CONS: Pharrell Williams gave Kimberly up in the Battle Rounds. Stolen contestants (Craig Wayne Boyd, Josh Kaufman) have won this show before, but Pharrell really seemed like the coach that made the most sense for Kimberly. Will Christina Aguilera let this eccentric “Rock Ballerina” dance to her own beat?

Meghan Linsey

MEMBER OF: Team Blake

PROS: This is not Meghan’s first rodeo; she won CMT’s ‘Can You Duet?’ in 2009 as one-half of Steel Magnolia, a country duo that went on to great success. She’s also old pals with her coach, Blake Shelton (she opened for him in concert 10 years ago!), so they have a rapport and a bond that may put her at an advantage. She’s also an incredible vocalist — Blake said she’s one of the best singers he’s ever heard.

CONS: Meghan has made a point of saying she now wants to veer away from country music. She auditioned with Nazareth’s classic-rock weeper “Love Hurts,” and picked an Aretha Franklin song for the Knockout Rounds. Is it a wise move for her to potentially alienate her built-in country fanbase, especially when country music always does so well on ‘The Voice’? Time will tell.

Sarah Potenza

MEMBER OF: Team Blake

PROS: She’s a rock ‘n’ soul powerhouse; her Van Morrison-esque cover of Season 7 contestant Matt McAndrew’s “Wasted Love” was one of the best performances of this season so far. She’s also received a generous amount of screentime: Her audition was the first one shown on Season 8’s premiere. Finally, she’s what ‘The Voice’ is supposed is all about. She’s a self-described “ordinary person,” who in no way looks like a typical pop star, trying to get a much-needed break.

CONS: The thirtysomething rocker’s old-fashionedness may keep her from building a big enough fanbase among younger voters, which is crucial now that the whole Twitter-dependent Instant Save is such an important factor on this show.

Rob Taylor

MEMBER OF: Team Xtina

PROS: This superfly soulman has hit high notes that make Adam Levine sound like that guy from the Crash Test Dummies, but he also has a moving backstory: He gave up a Berklee College of Music scholarship to care for his stroke-victim mother. He’s the kind of guy everyone wants to see succeed. Also, he has awesome hair.

CONS: Yes, Rob has a Levine-style falsetto, but he struggled during the Battle Rounds when Christina made him sing Maroon 5’s “Animals.” Can Rob handle material outside of his comfort zone? Song selection will be crucial with him.

Mia Z

MEMBER OF: Team Pharrell

PROS: She’s only 15, but she can sing her face off, and she knows who she is, sticking to the blues music she loves. While rumors that Season 8 dropout Anthony Riley, a man twice Mia’s age, refused to sing against her in the Knockouts turned out to be COMPLETEY untrue, it’s understandable why some people believed that gossip. Mia is definitely a threat.

CONS: She needs to find her real voice; sometimes her performances feel a little forced. Hopefully Pharrell can help her with that. A girl this good doesn’t need to try so hard.

Koryn Hawthorne

MEMBER OF: Team Pharrell

PROS: Koryn is only a teenager, but as Adam put it, she has the mature voice of a 40-year-old (that’s a compliment). And she surprisingly held her own in the Knockouts against the much more seasoned Kimberly Nichole.

CONS: Like many contestants this season, Koryn is young and green (she’s 16 and works in a pizza shop). Former teen star Christina would have been the ideal mentor for her, but unfortunately, Koryn was stolen in the Knockouts, so Christina is no longer her coach. Also, Koryn’s Battle was montaged, which is never a good sign.

Brooke Adee

MEMBER OF: Team Blake

PROS: This mature-beyond-her-years 16-year-old immediately grabbed Adam’s ear, and not just because she was singing a Bon Iver song. Her perfect pitch, sense of emotional drama, and overall ethereal quality made her a standout. Her audition actually has more views on the show’s official YouTube channel than any other this season.

CONS: Her Battle Round got the montage treatment. Boo.

Lowell Oakley

MEMBER OF: Team Pharrell

PROS: This 19-year-old crooner totally occupies his own space on the show; there’s really never been anyone like him on ‘The Voice.’ His element of surprise also makes for great television, because this kid’s elegant, gentlemanly vocals absolutely do not match his boyish face.

CONS: Lowell is a definitely an underdog. Many viewers thought Pharrell made a huge mistake picking Lowell over Kimberly Nichole in the Battle Rounds.

India Carney

MEMBER OF: Team Xtina

PROS: This opera-trained UCLA music student possesses a rich, smoky tone with just the right touch of vibrato; it’s a sophisticated voice, a classic voice, maybe even THE voice. Christina called India a “vocal beast,” and she ought to know.

CONS: India hasn’t quite established her artistic identity. Sure, we know she can really sing, but what kind of music does she want to make?

Hannah Kirby

MEMBER OF: Team Blake

PROS: Hannah is totally hilarious and endlessly entertaining. She is the very definition of good TV, and on a season packed with nervous Nellies, her fearlessness is refreshing.

CONS: She needs to dial it down a bit, lest she end up coming across as a gimmick or novelty contestant. Also, the fact that her coach Blake set her up as fodder against Sarah Potenza in the Battles (before realizing he’d underestimated Hannah and stealing her back during the Knockouts) does not bode well.

Nathan Hermida

MEMBER OF: Team Adam

PROS: Nathan is one of Team Adam’s most interesting contenders, and he’s friggin’ adorable. He’s a sexy nerd! Nerds rock!

CONS: He needs to work on his enunciation and be careful not to sing entire songs in his falsetto. His Battle Rounds cover of Sam Smith’s “Leave Your Lover” was appealing, but it had some technical issues.


MEMBER OF: Team Xtina

PROS: Sonic is a pro — she actually had a record deal at age 14. Like many veteran ‘Voice’ contestants, she had difficulties with her label and many career setbacks; her album sadly never came out. But she clearly has been ready for this moment for a long time.

CONS: Sonic has been inconsistent: Her audition was shaky, but her Battles and Knockouts performances were strong. (Hopefully she’ll continue in this upward direction.) Also, she has hearing loss in one ear, so she’ll have to be extra-careful with her pitch.

Corey Kent White

MEMBER OF: Team Blake

PROS: Corey has the kind of come-from-behind story arc that viewers love. His victory over frontrunner Cody Wickline in the Knockout Rounds was one of the most shocking ‘Voice’ outcomes ever… but it was very deserved. If Corey keeps delivering performances like “Live Like You Were Dying,” he’ll become a frontrunner himself.

CONS: Corey’s been lying low all season. It’s too soon to tell if “Live Like You Were Dying” was a real breakout performance, or just a fluke.

Caitlin Caporale

MEMBER OF: Team Pharrell

PROS: Clearly, this little lady can sing. She’s one of Season 8’s best technicians, and during an impromptu “Impossible” duet with her idol Christina Aguilera on a Blind Auditions episode, she totally held her own.

CONS: Caitlin has this singing thing down. It’s a given that she can belt with the best of ’em. Now it’s time to start working on her personality and musical direction. The winner of this show needs to be the total package.

Joshua Davis

MEMBER OF: Team Adam

PROS: This singer-songwriter and father is the kind of salt-of-the-earth everyman that voters love, and his Battle Rounds rendition of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” proved that he has the ability to dig into a meaty song.

CONS: Joshua is the strong and silent type. Is he capable of delivering the kind of breakout-moment performance that will siphon attention away from this season’s more showy singers?

Tonya Boyd-Cannon

MEMBER OF: Team Adam

PROS: She’s got probably the most interesting and heartstring-tugging backstory of any Season 8 contestant. She’s a prison choir leader AND a Hurricane Katrina survivor. Everyone wants to see someone like that get a break.

CONS: It’s still unclear if Adam is the right coach for her; it seems like a mismatch. Her old-fashioned gospel style may also keep her from connecting with younger voters. Again, song choice will be key with her.

Deanna Johnson

MEMBER OF: Team Adam

PROS: As a returning auditioner, she has a great made-for-TV comeback story. She also has tons of commercial appeal and marketability potential. If she won this show, she could actually be the big pop star that ‘The Voice’ has been seeking for eight seasons.

CONS: Nerves still hinder her performances. The coaches have noted that her singing is perfect… except when she actually gets onstage. Adam has to convince this girl that she really is good enough to compete.

Brian Johnson

MEMBER OF: Team Adam

PROS: Brian has had a tough time of it — he overcame a bullied childhood, married his childhood sweetheart, then put his musical dreams on hold to care for his ailing father. There was a real soulful tone to his audition of Tim Hardin’s “Reason to Believe.” Brian sings from his guts, heart, and soul.

CONS: He’s not on Team Blake anymore, and Blake would have been the best coach for him. Also, while his Knockouts performance of a James Morrison song showed another side of his voice, he still seems more cut out for CCM than for mainstream pop, rock, or country.

Lexi Davila

MEMBER OF: Team Xtina

PROS: She’s adorable (the camera loves her), and Christina saved her one remaining Steal of the season for Lexi. And in the Battles, Lexi beat out an actual member of the DeBarge family, and that earns her some bragging rights.

CONS: Her first audition was shaky, her Battle was montaged, and she didn’t win her Knockout Round. The odds are not ever in her favor.

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