Is Elyjuh René The Weak Link On 'The Voice'?

by Danielle Santola

Twenty unbelievable performers made it through the knockout rounds on The Voice, but as per usual, the live rounds are on their way to destroy dreams one by one. Well, in this case, two by two. When the Playoff Rounds go live, America will vote for their two favorite The Voice contestants from each team and each coach will only get to choose one more person to advance to the Live Shows. Voice anxiety will hit an all-time high for fans as the contestants start dropping like flies, but who's the most likely to go? Arguably the most surprising choice during the knockouts was when Pharrell kept 18-year-old Elyjuh René over the now Team Gwen Ricky Manning. Elyjuh's knockout performance didn't quite hit the mark emotionally and Pharrell kept him anyway — but if his next performance doesn't tell a story, I'm not sure Pharrell would be willing to save him a second time.

Elyjuh's decision to sing Chris Brown's "With You" wasn't completely shocking, considering his R&B roots, and his vocal performance was nearly flawless. But something about the message of the song didn't exactly resonate and the coaches all felt Ricky's story came across better regardless. All of the coaches except Pharrell, that is. Now moving forward, I think Pharrell has more work to do with Elyjuh than anyone else on his team.

One thing is for sure: the California-based teen chose the right coach because Pharrell is clearly determined to see Elyjuh succeed. When America responded to Elyjuh's Battle Round against Maiya Sykes, some thought even then that Elyjuh was done for. I was on the fence on that one because, quite frankly, I think Elyjuh's voice is more unique than Maiya's — but Ricky was the clear choice on this one. Elyjuh's knockout victory wasn't just surprising because of his less-than-impressive performance, but also because we saw a bond between Elyjuh and his coach that I hadn't realized was so strong.

Pharrell knew Ricky's performance out-shined Elyjuh's, so he assured Elyjuh that he chose him simply because he believes in him. It was a refreshing and blatantly genuine gesture, and something any contestant would likely want to hear from a coach (never mind their celebrity role model). I only hope for Elyjuh's sake that he takes Pharrell's advice to tell his own story in his next performance.

Plainly, Elyjuh would do well to remember what his strong suit is when it comes to song choices. Prior to his knockout, Elyjuh was a power house and a true force to be reckoned with, but now he's looking like somewhat of the underdog. Unfortunately, each team has to lose two valuable players this round and with DaNica Shirey, Luke Wade, Sugar Joans, and Jean Kelley as competition, it's just not looking good for Elyjuh. Eight people have to go home and Pharrell can't save him every time.

Pharrell went against his coaches once when they unanimously voted Ricky for the win and he only gets to advance one contestant of his own choice. Now America has to do the rest, and DaNica and Luke have two of the greatest voices of the season. When it comes to Team Pharrell's top three, Pharrell fought so hard for Sugar Joans that I find it hard to believe he would be willing to lose her again so soon. We'll have to wait and see how America responds to what is bound to be another flawless vocal courtesy of Elyjuh, but I'm guessing it won't be so easy for him to come out above DaNica and Luke.

Images: Tyler Golden/NBC (2)