It’s finally here, the live shows of The Voice. In what NBC is touting as the second biggest event of the week (the first being that pesky, never-ending presidential election), The Voice will dominate the airwaves with five hours over three nights.

Thankfully we’re done with the battles, knockouts, duels, fist fights, death matches, contretemps and whatever other silly names the show comes up with for its preliminary rounds. Well, not quite.

The start of the live shows is actually being called the Playoffs, a rather silly and forced baseball analogy. Maybe Carson Daly will dress as an umpire on Thursday and scream “You’re out!” to eliminated contestants. As long as we’re spared a rendition of “The National Pastime” from Smash, I’ll be fine.

Now on with the show!

Tonight is Team Adam and Team Blake. Good. Only 10 performances in two hours will give the show a chance to breathe comfortably. Unfortunately it also means lots of filler like Christina Milian talking about Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and all that other online social media goobledygook.

Adam Levine calls the Playoffs “a more serious Olympics.” Way to crap all over NBC’s biggest ratings bonanza.

For some unknown reason Cee Lo Green is wearing a giant afro and a puffy shirt. It’s like if Blacula dressed up as a pirate for Halloween.

Team Adam and Team Blake (“Peace of Mind” by Boston)

It’s a big group number with the three guys and seven women. The gender gap is very apparent. As is the MASSIVE gap in talent between Bryan Keith and Terry McDermott vs. the much less talented Julio Cesar Castillo.

Team Adam: Joselyn Rivera (“Give Your Heart a Break” by Demi Lovato)

And the first punch in the Voice vs. X Factor war this week goes to Joselyn for singing a Demi Lovato song. It’s not truly awful, but I spent the whole time wishing I was listening to the Glee cover by Lea Michele and Dean Geyer. My big problem is she sounds like she’s trying very hard to sound older than she is. She’s 17, so she should sing like a kid. The coaches spend a lot of time talking about how she looked like a star. Christina Aguilera praises her smile and ability to command the stage, which, to me, sounds like she’s actively avoiding talking about the vocals.

Team Blake: Terry McDermott (“Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey)

I’m amused that Blake Shelton thinks Terry will be the one to make this song popular again. Did he miss the whole Glee thing? Or The Sopranos finale? I wonder how many of tonight’s songs will be ones Glee has already covered? I’m predicting six. This fits nicely in Terry’s power anthem rocker wheelhouse. Does he add anything new to this song? Not at all. But he’s really good. I feel like he belongs on that old reality show Rock Star that looked for new lead singers to rock groups. The coaches all agree that he’s just really good and makes it look effortless.

Team Adam: Melanie Martinez (“Hit the Road Jack” by Ray Charles)

Ugh, now she’s gonna put her whole schtick on this song. Carson Daly introduces her by saying “Let’s look for the sassy” and, for a moment, I think he’s as over Melanie’s act as I am. The performance itself belongs in a 1940s night club. Who is this for? Christina Aguilera makes me fall in love with her because she obviously feels exactly how I feel about Melanie. She applauds her for being an individual, but Christina didn’t like it or get it at all. Man, I miss people like Simon Cowell who aren’t afraid to be mean. Xtina SOOOO clearly wants to say negative things, but she holds herself back. When she asks Adam if he chose the song (he didn’t) she’s definitely looking for an excuse to criticize Melanie by criticizing Adam.

Team Blake: Liz Davis (“Independence Day” by Martina McBride)

Being the only country singer in the Top 20 is a HUGE advantage. And singing a song all about how awesome the United States of America is genius. This is targeted at all those states that are gonna be painted red Tuesday night. It’s actually pretty good. I’m slowly starting to like Liz Davis, but despite Blake’s advice, I wish she’d stick to pure butt-kicking country lady songs. She’ll definitely be safe.

Team Blake: Cassadee Pope (“My Happy Ending” by Avril Lavigne)

This is the PERFECT song for her. It’s cool, young, energetic and offers her a chance to show off her impressive vocal abilities. I love it, and when it’s over Carson Daly calls her punk rock and she does the classic Avril parody a la Amy Poehler on Saturday Night Live. The other coaches are kind of hard on her for not being different or original and missing a few notes. Blake Shelton basically tells all the other coaches to shut the heck up because Cassadee rocks and she’s gonna be here for a long time.

Team Adam: Bryan Keith (“Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls)

It’s quite good and the audience loves him. He’s like a better version of Terry McDermott, filling the same role but making it a little more interesting than a simple sound-alike. He’s certainly the best on Adam’s team.

Team Blake: Michaela Paige (“Everybody Talks” by Neon Trees)

Finally, a third Glee song (sort of, because it will show up in this Thursday’s new episode). She’s definitely fun and energetic, like a teenage Katy Perry, but I don’t think her voice is particularly special or unique. She’s supposedly the punk rock chick from Team Blake, but I think Cassadee may have stolen that slot. Cee Lo Green calls it the best of the night and Adam loves it too. I guess they all love it a lot more than I do. Don’t get me wrong, she’s good, but I wouldn’t call it the best of the night.

Team Blake: Julio Cesar Castillo (“El Rey” by Jose Alfredo Jimenez)

He’s singing a classic Mariachi song entirely in Spanish. Um, OK? I have no idea what he’s singing about, nor do I understand this entire performance. I feel excluded, like this entire thing is ONLY for Hispanic viewers. The crowd and coaches love it, especially Xtina who says Latino viewers are loving this. Maybe that’s true, but what about the rest of us?

Team Adam: Loren Allred (“All Around the World” by Lisa Stansfield)

She’s a good singer, but she can’t surprise us anymore. Cee Lo Green loves this song, but I think it’s pretty dated and terrible. There are a few great notes thrown into the mix, but it’s not the kind of “Holy crap!” performance we’ve come to expect. That’s the biggest problem with her: She raised the bar on herself and now she needs to surpass it.

Team Adam: Amanda Brown (“Dream On” by Aerosmith)

And we end with our fourth Glee song of the night. WOW! Everyone else can just go suck an egg, because this was a million times better than anything we heard all night. The vocals were amazing, the movements and performance were hypnotic and seductive and her high notes at the end were insane. This kicked 23 kinds of ass. I loved it. Loved every second of it. If this performance was soap, I’d lather up right now. It it was beer, I’d already be drunk. If it was a piece of coal, it would’ve been turned into a diamond by the end. Seriously, Amanda Brown is gonna be in the finale.

So that does it for the first night of live playoffs. For Team Adam, I feel 99 percent confident that Amanda and Bryan will be the top two vote-getters, so it will come down to Adam’s decision to save Joselyn, Loren or Melanie (I think he’ll go Melanie for the weird vote).

On Team Blake it’s a little bit harder to decide. I think Liz Davis is definitely gonna be safe either way. I don’t know if Julio’s risk will pay off or if most people will feel as I did that it wasn’t for them. And I wonder if Michaela and Cassadee will split the punk rock chick vote. I’ll go with Liz, Terry and Cassadee surviving.

(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.