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Team Pharrell has been constantly underestimated on The Voice and for good reason. Pharrell clearly has no interest in season 10 about playing the “game” that is The Voice. He got rid of a lot of his best artists in the Knockouts and Battle Rounds so that they would have a continued shot on the show. He has straight up given up when his artists find themselves in the Bottom 2 and he has to persuade the audience to save them. 

Yet through all of that, Pharrell has kept his shining star, Hannah Huston, who gets better and better each week. Hannah might not be the “conventional” pick to win The Voice season 10 but there’s more than enough evidence to say that she could.

Everyone Loves an Underdog

The Voice is obsessed with telling underdog, rags-to-riches and Cinderella stories. The show is built, after all, on the idea that it doesn’t matter what you look like or what your past is, all that really matters is your talent and how you sing. It’s probably for this exact reason that The Voice shills the contestants’ sob stories with reckless abandon often ignoring some of their other less underdog qualities. 

The Voice never really talks about Alisan Porter’s past as a child star, it’s all about her juggling being a single mom and a singer. The Voice pretty much ignored that Owen Danoff’s dad was in the Starlight Vocal Band after his Blind Audition and never mentioned that he is dating Jesse Eisenberg’s sister and actually lives with the big movie star. 

Out of all their underdogs, Hannah has somehow risen to the top because her story seems the most genuine. While Alisan Porter seems like a lovely human being, all the prerecorded packages including her children are terribly manipulative. Alisan is probably a great mom but The Voice using her children to make her more likable, even if they are a huge part of her life, just feels wrong. Hannah, on the other hand, as an amateur singer / pre-school teacher just fits naturally into The Voice‘s favorite narrative. 

Everything about Hannah feels natural. She’s not ever uncomfortable or stilted around the cameras the way other contestants can be sometimes. Shalyah Fearing is very likable on The Voice but you can’t help but notice that she is not 100% comfortable when she is interviewed and who can really blame her, she is only 16 years old. Then there is other examples like Mary Sarah who is trying so desperately hard to be a “quirky” and funny girl. The more Mary jokes though, the more convinced I become that Mary has not only never heard a joke before, she might not even be human. Hannah has this natural, funny and easy star quality that makes her joy to watch whether she is singing or talking. Hannah makes you want to root for her.

Growth vs. Stagnation 

Of course, Hannah’s winning personality would be meaningless if she wasn’t a fantastic singer. Paxton Ingram is adorably likable and has found his niche on The Voice but is a complete long shot to win the whole thing. Hannah, week to week, is showing steady improvement. Hannah had a fine Blind Audition but it wasn’t until her Battle Round with Maya Smith where she became a true contender. Since that Battle, which resulted in a Steal, Hannah has been climbing in confidence and skill. 

Season 10 of The Voice started with very strong female singers. For whatever reason, most of them did not make the Top 12. It was only Hannah, Emily Keener, Alisan Porter and Shalyah Fearing who survived. Emily was quickly eliminated and when it comes to Shalyah she has not been as steady and commanding as she was before the Live Shows. As a result it is been pretty much between Alisan and Hannah fighting to be not only the best female singer remaining but one of the best artists period. 

In the case of Alisan she has been a constant stream of success that she has almost become boring. Fans know what they are going to get with Alisan and it will probably good. There is something much more exciting about Hannah’s steady climb up at the leaderboard so she is behind Alisan Porter. There is really no difference in terms of quality between Hannah’s Top 9 performance and Alisan’s. In fact, if anything, Hannah is better than Alisan.

Alisan Porter is always going to be a frontrunner on The Voice. The coaches lavish praise on to people like Alisan and Adam Wakefield and they’re not mistaken. Both are very good. However while everyone is focusing on these stars, there are people like Hannah waiting in the wings. It’s arguable to say that Hannah’s nice but unremarkable praise by the coaches as made her hungry. Alisan and Adam aren’t exactly coasting but it’s hard to see how they are challenging themselves either. 

Hannah has repeatedly put herself outside of her comfort zone. Sometimes it isn’t always a success. Hannah’s cover of “Rolling in the Deep” can be seen as an example of a good but not great example of Hannah trying to broaden her horizons. However if Hannah has performances at the same level as “Say You Love Me”, Alisan Porter and Adam Wakefield should be worried about their chances of actually winning The Voice

But what do you think? 

The Voice season 10 airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC.

(Image and video courtesy of NBC)

May 11, 2016
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