Season 12 of The Voice already has a major iTunes chart-topping artist in its midst and this time, I'm definitely not talking about any of the four venerated musicians judging the competition. The Voice's Hunter Plake, whose Sia cover during Playoffs was above and beyond excellent, was getting extra attention because of his recent iTunes ranking. Coach Gwen Stefani made sure to congratulate Plake on being the first Voice contestant to have two songs in the Top 30 on iTunes after last week's Knockouts performance. While Plake's ego definitely wasn't inflating from the success, he did look pretty dang pleased with his achievement so early in the competition.
My dudes, I'm calling it right now: Plake's going to be in the Top 10 and probably one of the final two contestants on Season 12. It's going to be a long road to get there, although Plake did get an inadvertent boost from Sia, whose song "Elastic Heart" paved the way for Plake to turn a corner in his development as an artist.
In rehearsals, the biggest note Stefani had for him was that she wanted him to open up to the audience. Emotionally and physically, Stefani kept hammering home that letting yourself be vulnerable onstage was the major key to achieving a successful performance. In his private interviews, even Plake had to acknowledge the truth of this statement. Coming from a church performance background had somehow closed him off and kept him separated from the audience; he wanted to fix that on the Playoffs stage.
Plake fulfilled on that note to open up ten times over. The richness and fragile timbre of his voice colored and contrasted the hardness of the story being told made for a spell-binding performance. He actually began the song while sitting down, getting on the audience's level to help foster that open connection with the audience. As he got up and used the stage to his advantage, he made it clear that he was not ready to go home just yet.
Luckily, America saw that great potential, too. He was chosen to move on to the Top 12 at the end of Tuesday night's episode. Until next week's episode, I'm going to low-key be playing that "Elastic Heart" performance on repeat.