'American Idol'-'Voice': Is Jamar Rogers better than Elise Testone?
As we approach the finales of "American Idol" and "The Voice," the cuts get tougher. On "Idol," it was Show Tracker favorite Elise Testone who ended her run this week, while on "The Voice," Adam Levine sent home Mathai and Cee-Lo said goodbye to Cheesa.
That leaves five "Idol" hopefuls and eight "Voice" performers to carry on. Our "Idol"-"Voice" rankings also continue, taking all the singers from both shows and putting 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, and to view the performances, click here.
1. Jamar Rogers, "The Voice"
The flames flickering at his back and the projections of pulsating speakers above and below him certainly heightened the sense of intensity, but Rogers' take on Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" would have felt plenty urgent even without all that impressive stage business. Rogers is a survivor, a fighter and a seriously compelling performer, and he sang as if it were his own personal anthem -– and as if his life depended on it.
2. Katrina Parker, "The Voice"
With her heartfelt rendition of Christina Perri's "Jar of Hearts," all lush and raspy and round-toned, Parker stepped away from all those Adele comparisons that have been beating around her and claimed the heart-shaped spotlight all on her own. It was as if she were proclaiming a resounding "Me!" to her own question: "Who do you think you are?" Her "Perfect" the next night was a perfect follow-up.
3. Elise Testone, "American Idol"
I love it when Testone really rocks out, feeling the music and letting her voice leap, skip and bounce as if the notes are smooth stones she's expertly skipping through still water, making hypnotic melodic ripples. Her performance of Queen's "I Want It All" was a perfect example, even if her "Bold as Love" didn't quite work. I'm sad to see Testone leave the "Idol" stage, but I trust this is far from the end for this talented singer. Here's hoping she gets all she wants.
4. Tony Lucca, "The Voice"
It wasn't very nice of Christina Aguilera, with whom Lucca shares a "Mickey Mouse Club" past, to call him out in front of millions of people the other week. It was one thing to label his performance style "one-dimensional," but quite another to accuse him of trying to sneak by on his Disney past. So it was truly gratifying to see him slyly hit back at Aguilera with this song by their fellow former "MMC" castmate Britney Spears. Plus, he conquered the song as if it were a hit of his own.
5. Jessica Sanchez, "American Idol"
Of the three "Idol" judges, only Randy Jackson loved Sanchez's take on the Queen classic, but I thought she captured the song's strangeness, sounded beautiful without sounding "pretty," and proved she really can sing pretty much anything. Yes, even rock. To me, it was far more interesting than watching someone sing Luther Vandross' "Dance With My Father" on "Idol" for the umpteenth time, even if it was sweet of her to dedicate that song to her soon-to-be-deployed dad.
Each week our experts and readers rank the best of the best between the two blockbuster singing competitions. Last week, "American Idol's" Phillip Phillips came out on top. Who will be the favorite this week? Use the poll below to vote. Check out last week's performances and see what our judges had to say at latimes.com/idol-voice.
Photo: Jamar Rogers on "The Voice." Credit: Lewis Jacobs / NBC