He was one of the last five singing on “The Voice,” but Oregon’s Taylor John Williams’ run came to an end Wednesday morning.
This year the show debuted the Wild Card feature, so instead of standard voting deciding the top four to sing in the finals, each of the fourth through 12th place finishers had the chance to compete for the last spot in next week’s finale.
On Tuesday Williams and Damien Rice joined the seven who had previously been eliminated for the chance to sing again.
Judging from reactions on social media, this Wild Card competition is not very popular. Many considered it unfair because eliminated singers could beat Williams or Rice even after the two had outperformed them earlier in the season.
Because of this, the common rally cry online was to vote for Williams or Rice on principle.
For his Wild Card song Williams did a truncated version of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game,” a great choice for the dark, brooding persona Williams has cultivated on the show.
But the sincere and emotional Rice got the most votes, and the show’s host, Carson Daly, announced on the “Today” show that the competition is over for Williams.
To me, Williams always seemed a little out of place on the show, in the best possible way. After each performance the judges remarked that he is a true artist and really knows who he is.
The same could also be said for country singer Craig Wayne Boyd, who has toiled at honkytonks and bars for years, and of music teacher Matt McAndrew, but it became the most common thing the judges said to Williams.
The judges almost never utter a critical word and tend to repeat themselves from week to week, and I will not miss their cloying and meaningless remarks once the show ends.
But for all the TV fluff Williams must have had to endure to make it this far, the one thing that he has to be excited about is that millions of people know his name.
He has amassed almost 60,000 followers on Twitter and 20,000 fans on Facebook.
I’m not sure what contractual obligations he will have to the show after this, but he should be able to parlay this experience into some income from his artistry.
On Monday Williams got to sing one of his favorite songs, the Swell Season’s hit “Falling Slowly,” and he did a beautiful job of it. Early on in the season he noted Glen Hansard from that duo as one of his songwriting heroes.
That night he also sang Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” which might have been what lost it for him. I get what he was going for, a cynical take on the superficiality of dating or using people just to fill an empty space in their lives.
But where it might seem that the indie/alternative/hipster darkhorse guy doing a Taylor Swift song would be ironic, in this case the original is already a cynical song.
The country-pop princess known as much for having a million boyfriends as for selling millions of records is smarter than most people give her credit for, and while the song “Blank Space” is unequivocally pop, its underlying message is not one of mental stability or health. It might even havethat rare Hollywood quality of introspection.
He was going for the same thing the week he sang “Royals,” but that time it worked better because his performance delivered a greater depth to the lyric Lorde made famous.
Maybe two songs in one week was just too much, because not only was his performance of “Blank Space” a bit detached, he missed some of the words.
That episode also showed a segment of Williams visiting his “hometown” of Portland.
Williams lived in Coburg and graduated from Sheldon High School, but on the show he claims Portland as his hometown. He lives there now, but there is no word on whether he will go back to his job as a barista at Sniff Dog Hotel.
It was fun to watch Williams try new things and grow on the show, but it got a bit more uncomfortable as performances got fancier and more packaged. Knowing a little bit about his background and having seen him perform when he was in total control, he has a special gift to bring gravity to any song. It’s a cliche, but he seems like an old soul.
“The Voice” let some of that through enough for it to become his gimmick. Oh, isn’t that quaint, this person feels deeply! But he still had to sell $250 Beats by Dre headphones during the commercial breaks and play the game that is mainstream television.
I would have loved to see him in the finale because the artists there get to perform an original song (co-written by industry experts), and I think Williams really would have shone there.
But it’s apparent to me he’s going to shine no matter what he chooses to do next, and doing so well on “The Voice” probably saved him years of hard time on the road to build a fan base.
I think a hearty congratulations is in order. He didn’t embarrass Oregon, not one bit.
Follow him on Twitter at @MrTaylorJohn or search Taylor John Williams on Facebook to become a fan and follow what he does next.
The remaining contestants are Matt McAndrew (Team Adam), Craig Wayne Boyd (Team Blake), Damien Rice (Team Adam) and Chris Jamison (Team Adam).