After the stunning turn of events that was the Top 12 results show, no artist on The Voice should feel safe. While this probably means bad things for the contestants’ blood pressure, it should mean good things for the audience. No hopeful artist is going to be coasting, resting on their laurels or doing any kind of ridiculous phrase that means laziness. The Top 12 opened the second week of The Voice live shows strong and the Top 11 should continue to carry that mantle; it is 90% all the same people, after all.

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'The Voice' Recap: The Top 11 Perform

Shalyah Fearing Performs “The Climb”

After a somber and respectful tribute to Prince, with the coaches sharing their thoughts, we move right into Shalyah. It is a bit of an emotional whiplash dealing with the sadness of Prince’s death to Shalyah, who might be made entirely of sunshine and happy thoughts. It works okay, though.

Shalyah’s performance of “The Climb” is pleasant enough. It is probably the weakest yet of her songs, but that’s not a very harsh statement. I’m a little bitter that The Voice put Shalyah in the wasteland that is the first spot of the night. It’s easily the most forgettable position and this song doesn’t really help her.

Daniel Passino Performs “Time After Time”

The Voice doesn’t care about this because The Voice doesn’t care about him. I, however, still remember the commercials for season 1 of the show that featured Javier Colon singing this song in his Blind Audition. So I enter into this performance with a heavy bit of skepticism. The skepticism only gets deeper given the fact that Daniel was saved so early for the Top 11 and he was far more wonderful.

Daniel, despite his best efforts, does nothing to break through my shell. It’s a fine performance, but there is nothing particularly exciting about it or Daniel’s voice. The best part of the entire routine is the instrumental arrangement, which Daniel admits that he is borrowing stealing from Pink.

Paxton Ingram Performs “Break Every Chain”

Look, I don’t think Paxton has any business being in the Top 12. He also didn’t deserve, based on his Top 12 performance, to make it to the Top 11. However, that is what happened and we have to deal with it. All that being said, this performance very nearly makes up for the ridiculousness of Paxton’s survival, in some weird miraculous way.

Paxton really does go all out here and puts all his energy into this song. I don’t love it, but it makes me feel something other than ambivalence. This is so much better than the forgettable snooze-fests that have been Paxton’s previous vocal exercises in boredom. Paxton has been aggressively mediocre to me before now; this performance finally turns that aggression into something more enjoyable.

Owen Danoff Performs “Fire and Rain”

In retrospect, I can almost understand why Owen ended up in the bottom after the Top 12 by singing “7 Years.” I still don’t like it, but I think I understand. Owen said he felt a personal connection to “7 Years,” but it didn’t feel that way in the performance. It didn’t seem like Owen really understood what he was singing.

There is no denying the personal connection here. This is really emotional and if America doesn’t respond to this, I don’t know what is wrong with them.

Mary Sarah Performs “Johnny and June”

Mary Sarah and I have had a complicated relationship on The Voice, I say as a loser who just watches her sing on TV occasionally. The point is that while I really dug Mary Sarah’s Blind Audition, I haven’t felt the spark since. I was shocked that she made it through after the Top 12 for a performance that was karaoke Carrie Underwood.

This performance feels like Mary Sarah and it is the Mary Sarah that was in the Blind Audition. I think picking a smaller country music song is a smart one. This might be the start of Mary Sarah climbing back to the top of the contestant leaderboard.

Alisan Porter Performs “Stay with Me Baby”

Sometimes, the pre-recorded packages can be forgiven as harmless fluff. Sometimes, they are just so blatantly manipulative that they have to be commented on and discussed. This is the latter situation.

I guess Christina and Alisan have nothing to really talk about when it comes to Alisan’s voice. (Be serious, do you really think that Christina is coaching Alisan that much? Actually, how much do you think Christina is coaching any of her singers?) There is no getting around how shameless the package is in reminding the audience that Alisan is a mom of two young children and they mean so much to her. The Voice is trying to put all the eggs into Alisan’s basket to win the show this year. They don’t invest in everyone’s backstory in this way. Then again, you can’t really blame The Voice after Alisan has performances like this one.

Bryan Bautista Performs “Just the Way You Are”

It’s true that Bryan devoting this whole song to his sister is just as manipulative. There is something about Bryan that feels so genuine, though, that it is forgiven. Bryan is so smooth when he sings and when he talks. It’s an effortless kind of charisma and charm he exudes. You can’t help but like him.

The coaches tell contestants all the time that they are going to be so successful and popular after the show and it is almost never the case. Bryan, though, just has this special quality that makes him feel like a star already. Bryan has the look, the charisma and, of course, the voice.

Adam Wakefield Performs “Lights”

Okay, I guess this is just the night where The Voice goes all in on making their “frontrunners” more sympathetic. First, it was Alisan and her adorable children, then it was Bryan being the best big brother ever and now we have Adam with physical proof that he wasn’t engineered in some classic rock cowboy lab.

At least this emotional fluff isn’t as long. Adam trots out his mother for a hot second and then jumps right into singing. Singing is really Adam’s main attraction anyway. Let’s face it — he is not oozing with charisma, nor will he ever be that type of charming. I do suppose Blake’s folksy charm is so overflowing that it makes up for all his contestants. All of Team Blake, with maybe the exception of Paxton, is about as dull as Christina’s roots.

Out of all the tug on these heartstrings performances, Adam probably has my favorite in terms of vocals. This should be the most important thing, but it feels like it is coming in second place right now.

Nick Hagelin Performs “Your Body is a Wonderland”

The streak had to end sometime. After this run of excellent performances and overlong pieces about the contestants’ families, things come crashing down with Nick. Nick’s performance isn’t bad, but it sounds exactly like every other one of Nick’s songs. So it’s boring and I’m done about 20 seconds into it. I really could have done more with seeing his son Bash and less of Nick actually singing.

Hannah Huston Performs “I Can’t Make You Love Me”

I’ll admit that I’m more than a bit distracted by the piano that’s on the large platform behind Hannah. How did it get up there? (There also seems to be an absurd amount of pianos on stage anyway.) I do love, though, that this is Hannah’s version of “stripped down.” Stripped down always feels like code to me for putting in very little effort and acting like it was a creative choice. This is definitely a quieter performance, but it’s no less powerful than what Hannah did in the Top 12.

Laith Al-Saadi Performs “Make It Rain”

I know it’s not like Laith has “normal” hair (and it is kind of awesome). Laith’s silly pigtails have to be pointed out here as they threaten to undermine all the grit and power of this song choice in the practice session. Thankfully, he ditches it for his more traditional ponytail for the actual performance.

I think The Voice could have chosen a few different artists to be the closer during the Top 11 show, but this is about as good as Laith has ever been. This is an admittedly high bar too.

Even though I love Laith’s voice and have from the beginning, I am just as surprised as he is that he is doing this well. I appreciate that The Voice comments on that fact without being too self-aggrandizing that Laith could only be this popular on their show. It would have been 100% accurate for The Voice to do so, but I’m glad the coaches and producers have controlled that impulse and are keeping the focus on Laith.


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

(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)

Derek Stauffer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Derek is a Philadelphia based writer and unabashed TV and comic book junkie. The time he doesn’t spend over analyzing all things nerdy he is working on his resume to be the liaison to the Justice League.