Season 9 of “The Voice” looks as if it could just turn out to be a horserace between Team Adam (Levine)’s Amy Vachal and Team Adam’s Jordan Smith. At present, the two Top 11 finalists are dominating the iTunes charts and are the clear frontrunners, with Smith — in keeping with the horserace imagery — ahead by about a full length, in the singing competition. But is there anyone that could possibly challenge them?
TV Media Insights reported November 24 that all eleven finalists in the Top 11 of the “The Voice” made the Top 100 on the iTunes Top 200 Singles Chart, a list of music downloads that includes all genres of music. Three contestants made the Top 10: the aforementioned Jordan Smith, Amy Vachal, and Team Blake (Shelton)’s Emily Ann Roberts. All three have been there before and have reaped the rewards of having the number of downloads multiplied by ten to count as votes in the competition (to then be added to votes gathered the traditional way, via internet and call-in). But here’s the thing and why the downloads become more and more important as the season progresses: All downloads of the artists songs count toward their total votes as long as they occur during the voting period (that 12-hour window following each performance show) and in the finale, they’re added to the final count, giving the finalist a season tally. (The times-10 multiplier, of course, is separate and used only for the songs that make the Top 10 and only during the voting period following that particular song’s debut on “The Voice.”)
Now, it is quite clear that Jordan Smith holds the lead at present — at least in votes counted from downloads. How is that? Well, the Kentucky native has scored three straight Top 10 iTunes songs: “Halo,” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” and this week’s “Who You Are.” In fact, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” reached No. 1 for a day, pushing aside Adele’s “Hello.” “Halo” reached No. 3 and his rendition of Jessie J’s “Who You Are” peaked at No. 8. Although it is important to note that the number of downloads of these songs get the times-10 multiplier bonus, what just might be the deciding factor when all the votes are counted is the staying power of the contestants music (see Sawyer Fredericks’ complete domination of the Season 8 iTunes charts). And Jordan Smith certainly has staying power. Along with “Who You Are,” Smith continued to chart with “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” (No. 39), “Halo” (No. 120), and “Chandelier” (No. 171). Given his charting success, it is only if his internet and phone-in votes are low that a scenario exists that places the 22-year-old anywhere but in first place in the contest.
But that’s not to say Amy Vachal isn’t dogging his heels. After Monday night’s performance of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” Vachal showed she was a force to be reckoned with. Her breezy rendition of the newly anointed American Music Awards Song of the Year topped out on the iTunes chart at No. 4. It was her second time in the iTunes Top 10, having placed “Hotline Bling” at No. 6 last week. Adam Levine’s coach’s save (yes, she had to be saved, if one can believe it) has connected with the audience as well and has a line-up of songs with staying power as well. Along with her Top 10 “Blank Space,” Vachal also charted this week with “Hotline Bling” (No. 83), “Dream A Little Dream Of Me” (No. 153), and “The Way You Look Tonight” (No. 198).
So it looks as if Team Adam has the advantage… so far. But do any of the other coaches have any real contenders that could possibly unseat Smith and Vachal in the next two weeks? (Yes, next week, there will be a large cut of finalists to set up the Season 9 Finals.) There could be…
Emily Ann Roberts of Team Blake (also saved by her coach, as unbelievable as it might seem) is Shelton’s best chance this season to pull off an upset like he did in Season 7 (when he went into the Finals with just one contestant, while Team Adam had all three finalists there). She placed her rendition of The Judds’ “Why Not Me” in the iTunes Top 10 at No. 10 following her bluegrass-infused performance Monday night. Two weeks ago, she peaked with the hymn “In The Garden” at No. 6. And as for staying power, she charted again this week with “In The Garden” at No. 197. She appears to be a longshot, but if the just-turned-17-year-old can pull in enough popular votes to compensate, she just might have a chance at winning the competition.
Anyone else? Perhaps, but it’s an extremely long shot. Although Team Gwen (Stefani)’s Jeffery Austin has placed only one song in the iTunes Top 10 (last week’s “Let It Go” peaked at No. 9), his performances seem to be resonating with the buying public. After placing Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” at No. 27 after Monday’s performance, Austin also charted with “Let It Go” (No. 180).
This, of course, leaves Team Pharrell (Williams) without a contender. The reigning champion coach of “The Voice” might slide one in — perhaps Madi Davis — but she’ll have to do it on popular voting strength, having had no songs as yet make it into the iTunes Top 10 to get that times-10 bump.
So where do we stand? Watching Jordan Smith lead the pack with just two weeks left prior to The Finals. With more strong performances like last night’s “Blank Space,” Amy Vachal might be his only true challenger in this season’s contest. Still, if iTunes is the gauge, anyone taking the Season 9 crown of “The Voice” from Jordan Smith will have to do it with a considerable amount of popular votes.
“The Voice” airs on NBC Television on Mondays and Tuesdays.