'The Voice' Recap: Top 12 Perform
'The Voice' Recap: Top 12 Perform
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
We're down to the Top 12 on The Voice season 4, and now coaches don't matter. Two singers will go home each week, regardless of the coach, so it's time to see if Blake Shelton's all-country strategy splits votes and causes them to be in trouble or dominates and saves them all.

Last season during the Top 12, the two singers going home were two of the ones the coaches had to save to get this far, so The Swon Brothers, Sarah Simmons, Josiah Hawley and Garrett Gardner should all be very worried.

Let's get ready for a whole lot of country music, hopefully very little of Christina Milian and, if we're lucky, Carson Daly will cut Adam Levine off every time he starts taking too long to get to a point as punishment for last Wednesday.

This is The Voice live blog!

Shakira is sporting some major cleavage tonight. Those boobs don't lie.

Carson Daly lets us know there's a heat wave and the air-conditioning went out, but it will be back on soon. But if it's not, the lights could go out on this LIVE show. I desperately want this to happen.

The heat must be affecting the coaches, because their episode-opening banter is super dull.

Vedo: "Rock with You" by Michael Jackson

I still don't see the same thing Usher sees in this kid. The coach brings in his choreographer to help with the movements. His dance moves are pretty sweet and he has one solid big note, but the rest is pretty sub-par, vocally. Sorry, he's just not a strong singer, especially compared to the rest of the Top 12.

Holly Tucker: "A Broken Wing" by Martina McBride

She might be a country singer, but she has the biggest and boldest voice out of anyone on Team Blake. Some of the notes sound a bit off to me, but she powers through it and, by sheer force of will, makes it great. She adds some amazing, huge gospel runs and I love that she's not JUST country. I am slightly worried, however, that she's a bit too much like Amber Carrington.

Carson Daly is doing a pretty great job handling the whole heat situation and keeping things light and fun, taking off his jacket and rolling up his sleeves. Call me crazy, but I'm starting to hope he somehow gets nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Host.

Garrett Gardner: "I Want It That Way" by Backstreet Boys

Oh hells yeah! I'm already in love because this is the best boy band song ever. 'N Sync and One Direction can suck it. "You are my fire, the one desire." That's better than anything Robert Browning ever came up with. As always, Shakira is interested in making Garrett turn popular songs into rock anthems. I'm not entirely sure the lyrics work with his aggressive attitude, but I don't care because I love this arrangement so much. It's just so different and cool and unexpected. I understand the coaches' criticisms because this isn't for everyone and it probably tastes bitter if it's not your cup of tea, but I adore it. I hope Shakira is right that lots of people download it because it's so damn cool.

At this point it's getting so hot in the studio that Usher decides to take off all his clothes. And I was like, good gracious, ass is bodacious! OK, he only removes his shirt so he's just wearing a tank top, but still. Usher is definitely exercising his 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. At this point, Adam Levine will probably be in a speedo by the end of the episode.

Damn, I spoke too soon because when we're back from commercial break, Carson lets us know the air-conditioning is back on. No speedos. Sorry ladies (and some gentlemen).

Sarah Simmons: "My Story" by Brandi Carlile

I'm not OK with this song choice, mostly because Sara Ramirez's version in the Grey's Anatomy musical episode is the ONLY version that should be allowed to exist on this planet. If you haven't heard it, do yourself a favor and check it out, because it will kill you. Sarah does a decent job, but it's a little too angry for me. Honestly, I just can't be objective about this because I love Grey's Anatomy that much.

The Swon Brothers: "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes" by George Jones

Doing a song by a country legend who died two and a half weeks ago seems a tad manipulative. So is the performance, stripped down and all emotional like they're playing a memorial show. It does kind of reveal that Colton is the weaker singer. Also, while I know a whole lot of people in this country will get what this song is about, I have no Earthly idea who "the Okie from Muskogee" is. This is the opposite of Garrett Gardner, because while I recognize that some people will love this, I'm not one of those people.

Carson apologizes that the air-conditioning is back on and so are Usher's clothes. Carson NEEDS to get an Emmy nomination, because he's killing it tonight.

Sasha Allen: "Alone" by Heart

Shakira wants her to be less Broadway. I'm loving Shakira's song choices this week because this is another brilliant song. The performance is stunning. Her voice starts to break right away and her eyes are welling up with tears the whole time. Sasha is definitely channeling something deep and heavy and whatever it is, I love it. Shakira then begs people to vote for Sasha. She also encourages people to download the song much the same way she did with Garrett. Shakira is playing smart because she knows how important download votes are.

Josiah Hawley: "The Man Who Can't Be Moved" by The Script

He's going acoustic for something different. Is it just me, or is The Script everywhere this season? I'd like to start a campaign to have The Script frontman and Voice U.K. coach Danny O'Donoghue take part in a coach exchange program. We give them Blake for a season and get Danny in his place. Anyway, the performance is perfectly fine. It's exactly what he should be doing: playing the guitar, wearing jeans and a tight white t-shirt and singing a cool song. Usher calls Josiah a young Adam Levine. I can literally see Adam start to plot Josiah's "accidental" death via poisoned apple.

Danielle Bradbery: "Wasted" by Carrie Underwood

The show is really playing up the fact that she's just an average teenage girl. And the performance is everything Blake Shelton dreamed up when he made this girl in his redneck laboratory. She's pretty and young with a big, powerful country voice. She's very pop/country ready, if that's your thing. Shakira calls her "a 16-year-old Margaret Thatcher. A mini-Iron Lady." Awesome. Adam then says Danielle is the one to beat and the clear frontrunner. I hope he's just trying to inflate her value so people turn against her because I'm getting really annoyed by Blake's insistence that "she's a normal, regular, all-American girl." He's pushing that agenda way too hard.

Judith Hill: "You've Got a Friend" by Carole King

After auditioning with a Christina Aguilera hit, all four of Judith's subsequent performances have been songs that are more than 40 years old. How is this a good strategy, especially when frontrunner Danielle is doing Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift? Judith decides to forgo Paul Mirkovich and his amazing band by playing the piano as the only musical accompaniment. She does what she always does, singing runs and riffs and ignoring the melody as much as she wants. Adam calls her "the most talented human being in this competition." Exaggerate much? Yes, technically she might be the best singer, but does that matter? Presidential elections aren't decided by standardized tests.

Michelle Chamuel: "Call Your Girlfriend" by Robyn

Bring on the quirk, Zooey DesChamuel! She wants to be an indie electronic artist who collaborates and she literally takes notes during the rehearsal. In an odd way, this might be the most "normal" performance she's done. She sounds great and sings like a pop star without crazy, manic movements, but she's still herself. It's almost impossible to judge her because people just love her as a human being, and those people will love everything she does. And I'm one of those people.

Kris Thomas: "I'll Be There" by The Jackson 5

Kris was about to join the Navy, but didn't and then he got on this show. Sadly, that's not an awesome segue into singing The Village People's "In the Navy." Also, was it the real Navy or the Old Navy? (That's a 1600 Penn reference, BTW.) Kris sounds like a woman, as always. This might actually be the most he's ever sounded like a woman. I still just don't like his tone. Sorry, but much like Taylor Swift and her ex-boyfriend, I am never, ever, ever going to like his voice. Like, ever. The coaches all like it, but Usher thinks there were some moments that weren't so great.

Like last season, anyone in the Top 10 of iTunes at 10am ET the next day will have their iTunes votes multiplied by 10.

Amber Carrington: "I'm Gonna Love You Through It" by Martina McBride

Now this is interesting. Blake had his three country artists, but Adam's girl ends the night with a country song of her own (by an artist already covered by Holly Tucker). This smells like sabotage to me, and I like it. Play dirty, Adam! The song is her story because her mom had cancer, her dad helped her through it and she died when she was 38. This is some grade-A manipulation, especially because it hits me very, VERY close to home. Is having your mom die from cancer when she's 38 a common thing? The song is well-sung and quite powerful. She's definitely a slightly better version of Holly Tucker. I'll be curious how having FOUR strong, emotional country singers will affect the voting.

That does it for The Voice, so now it's time to vote? Who will go home tomorrow? This is a difficult choice because I thought a lot of the "saved" singers did quite well (except Sarah, who could definitely be in danger). I'd love to see Vedo go home too, but I don't think I'm that lucky. Odds are Garrett or Josiah will go despite giving two performances I really liked.

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(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)