Part of the excitement of each of The Voice “Live Top 12, 10, 8, etc. Performances” episodes is the extra special treat of superstar entertainment. Sometimes that star power is directed at coaching, as it was when Blake Shelton invited Little Big Town, Adam Levine invited Stevie Nicks, Pharrell Williams invited Alicia Keys, and Gwen Stefani invited Gavin Rossdale for the Battle Rounds. For the Knockout Rounds, the whole stable of hopefuls got their moment in the sun with masterful musical juggernaut Miss Taylor Swift.
Tonight, Ms. Colbie Caillat (pictured with Blake above) will be gracing our screens and our ear drums. Rumor has it that Caillat will be a mentor for The Voice‘s “Top 10 Perform” tonight, but I’m crossing my fingers that maybe she’ll get to sing for us as well. We are down to only 10 performers and we have a full 120 minutes of airtime to fill (minus commercials, of course), so maybe my prayers will be answered. I’ve been a Colbie Caillat fan since her salad days back in 2008, so I am super pumped to see her tonight.
More Star-Studded Mentors to Come
Coming our way as mentors tonight are Diana Ross (holy cats!), Meghan Trainor, Christina Aguilera, and Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy. This is the first time we’ve had the likes of these advisers so late in the game. The Voice is really stacking the deck with anything they can to get the ocular traffic trained on NBC. Not that they need to; The Voice already commands an audience of 14 million each night.
Tomorrow evening, Taylor Swift will be on stage performing her chart-topping new single “Blank Space” from her new album, 1989. I hope she gets a moment to chat with Carson Daly about her experience coaching the contestants a couple of weeks ago. It was fascinating to watch her giving tips to each performer, and then seeing how her advice made a difference for them. A little follow-up would be spectacular.
Jessie Pitts and Sugar Joans Will Get Another Chance
Remember last week’s performances? They were pretty awesome, but two of them had to bid adieu to the limelight so the total would drop to 10 performers for tonight. Here was my performance ranking after last week’s Top 12 performances:
On Tuesday, we said goodbye to two of those performers. I predicted Sugar Joans would be one of the two to leave, but I was heartbroken when Ryan Sills beat Jessie Pitts as the 10th to move forward in the live voting during the final moments of the night. Granted, all three final performances were rocky. Jessie was nervous as hell, Ryan sang off-key most of the time and Sugar screeched out her performance, but who could blame them with so much on the line? In the end, Ryan moved forward with the teeny-bopper vote.
However — and this is brand new this season — all Top 12 finalists will get a chance to be voted back into the competition with a Wildcard vote when we get down to the Top 4. More on that later, as I am sure Carson is going to say something about it tonight.
The Top 10 Perform a Rascal Flatts Medley
Danica, Anita and Reagan open up with Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road.” DaNica starts off the song and her voice drags behind the piano for most of the first verse. Reagan’s voice is sounding a little rough, and I’m hoping the stress isn’t getting to her. She is my top pick for the whole rodeo so she’s got to make it through the night to be back next week.
Luke, Ryan, Craig and Taylor are bedecked in Johnny Cash black perform “Stand,” joined later by Matt, Damien and Chris. Wait, do two songs make a medley? I guess it does tonight. I have to be honest, folks. I do not enjoy these group songs. The choral-style renditions simply do not do justice to the individual performers or to the songs. I wish they’d skip them and opt for a duet between the coaches or a coach and a contestant … or between two contestants. Sure, they have to be fair to all the contestants and they don’t have time to feature everyone, but the entertainment suffers.
Patrick Stump Coaches Matt McAndrew on “Fix You”
Matt mentions how his performance from last week sold scads on iTunes and the original artist actually tweeted him. Wow. They discuss interacting with the crowd.
During the performance, Matt holds the hand of an audience member and the crowd goes wild. Blake says Matt’s so good that there’s nothing much left to say. Pharrell says K-Rock and Z100 radio stations should be paying close attention and adding all of his songs to their playlists. Gwen says her whole body was aflutter from the very first note. Adam comments on Matt’s humility. His big notes juxtaposed against the sweetness of his gentler notes is astounding, all the coaches agree.
Christina Aguilera Coaches Anita Antoinette on “Let Her Go”
Christina, who will be returning as a coach for season 8 of The Voice, comes to coach Gwen’s teammates. They discuss easing into the grove of the chosen song, “Let Her Go” by Passenger. When she performs, Anita comes out in a black ensemble with a crisp white shirt and a navy tie. She’s obviously enjoying herself, but the performance is not as strong as her previous performances, especially of “Rude,” which remains one of my top two Anita favorites.
Blake enjoys watching Anita let loose, as does Pharrell who speaks to her increased ease on stage. Gwen is happy Anita chose to wear the boots they must have discussed earlier. I agree with Gwen who says all the girls come out in the ridiculous high heels and the boots make so much more sense.
A Visit from Record Executive Clive Davis, the Man with the Golden Ears
He advises the artists to study the lyrics and study the subject of the song. It is about more than the notes, he says; it’s about the feeling and meaning beneath them. Mr. Davis worked with Whitney Houston and calls her a natural. He said she sang with her whole heart.
Patrick Stump Coaches Damien on “You and I”
Stevie Wonder’s song is perfect for Damien. Adam says he’s sick and tired of being proud of Damien, and they all laugh.
Damien takes the stage and he’s dressed in a light gray jacket with a lapel lined in black; he looks a little like a band conductor.
Colbie Caillat Coaches Reagan James on “Fancy”
To start off their practice together, Colbie and Reagan do a duet of Colbie’s “Try,” which Reagan covered in the Playoffs. Then they get to work on Reagan’s song for the evening, Iggie Azalea’s “Fancy,” which, of course, Reagan has transformed into something all her own. Reagan says this performance of the rap number takes more work than any other song she’s performed on The Voice. Reagan wants to slow it down just a smidge and soften it, but Colbie recommends nixing the acoustic guitar in favor of an electric. This switches things up for Reagan and challenges her to be more forceful. Is she up for the task?
Regan performs bedecked all in gold glitter and short tresses and her signature loose pants. I’m nervous before she starts as her voice was a little rough in the opening number. Of course, my concern has no merit since Reagan kicks the shit out of the song.
All the coaches talk about how difficult it is to do a rap such as the one Reagan just performed. Both Adam and Blake say it was her best performance so far. Amazing to me was how the uniqueness of Reagan’s voice was still very present and audible in this rap song. Bravo, Reagan.
Diana Ross Coaches Luke Wade on “Try a Little Tenderness”
Luke says Diana might as well have invented music, that’s how much he admires her. Luke is a bit nervous and mightily humbled after last week’s misstep when he came in a bar or two too soon. But I’m here to tell you right now, Luke Wade, what happened last week could not touch the magnificence of who you are as a performer. I’m looking right at you, Luke. Hear what I’m sayin’? You are unique and soulful and America loves you.
Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” gets the Luke Wade treatment when our man takes the stage. He starts off right away with his unique choked tenor sound and finishes up with two rounds of thigh-slapping machine-gun stutters that whip the audience into a frenzy.
Gwen says she can see Pharrell all over it and she loves how evolved Luke’s performance has become from his first time on stage. Adam says Luke’s one of his favorites. Pharrell says Luke exceeded his expectations for that performance. Well, folks, we have another instance of a performer kicking the shit out of a song. He kicked that one to the moon, my friends.
Colbie Caillat Coaches Craig Wayne Boyd on “I Walk the Line”
Colbie advises Craig to get out of his comfort zone when it comes to his signature song ending. She says he’s an incredible singer, but needs to be versatile as well. Blake says the only difference between himself and Craig Wayne Boyd is that he, Blake, got a lucky break a long time ago and Craig just hasn’t … yet. Truer words have never been spoken, people. Blake also comments on how Craig is one of the guys that will carry the country music torch forward to the next generation. He also mentions how Craig is definitely an outlaw southern rock guy, but he’s also a heartthrob, making Blake want to throw his own panties up on the stage. Gross, Blake, just … gross (and hilarious). And I know exactly what the man means because I’m ready to do the same whenever CWB performs.
Oh. My. God. I am covered in goosebumps and I hardly breathed during the entire song. Craig took Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line” and turned it into a haunting ballad. Whew!
Christina Aguilera Coaches Ryan Sill on “Starlight”
Ryan isn’t sure he can sing the song like a rock star, and he knows if he can’t hit it out of the park, it will mean going home this week. This is the third time he’s been in the bottom three, and he’s nervous. Muse’s “Starlight” is not a song I am familiar with, but he does pretty well. Even if he does the song justice, is it good enough to outperform seven of his competitors? Song choice is so crucial at this point.
Adam says Ryan is still trying to figure out where he fits genre-wise, but it’s pretty clear that Ryan hasn’t had one of the top performances of the night. Blake gives Ryan some heck about knocking out his Jessie Pitts last week. For a moment, it looks like Blake wants to scale the stage and throttle Ryan.
Diana Ross Coaches DaNica Shirey on “I Have Nothing”
DaNica is a mess talking to Clive Davis, the man who discovered Whitney Houston. She wrote a biography on his life when she was in grade school. She memorized all of Whitney’s songs and sang the stuffings out of them on her own when she was young. During practice with Diana Ross, DaNica is almost overwhelmed by the experience.
Performing Whitney’s “I Have Nothing” is a tall order because she will be compared to the original and could suffer for it. However, that is not the case as DaNica has the pipes and the emotion to deliver on the promise made by Whitney in this power ballad back in 1993. Whitney sang the song with about 10% more versatility, but that’s not at all bad when you’re compared against a powerhouse such as Houston.
Gwen says DaNica never messes up, and Adam says you never give that song to anyone unless they can truly deliver it, which DaNica does.
Christina Aguilera Coaches Taylor John Williams on “Come Together”
Taylor John Williams meets with Christina Aguilera and Gwen Stefani to practice his very Taylorized version of The Beatles’ “Come Together” and I’m reminded of an America’s Got Talent performance by Miguel Dakota this past summer. We’ll see if Taylor does a better job of the low voice intro to this famous song.
Taylor takes the stage and for once he isn’t wearing his pencil pants held up by suspenders. He’s got a tie around his head and an actual jacket coat on. What challenges me about Taylor is that he seems so non-sexual. He’s not androgynous, exactly, it’s just that he doesn’t drip with masculine sexuality. This is his best, most versatile performance so far and it just might get him into the Top 8.
Patrick Stump Coaches Chris Jamison on “Uptown Funk”
What? Chris Jamison in the pimp spot? What the hell is that all about? I am baffled by this. He must have a super upbeat song. And that is exactly what he has. “Uptown Funk” is a Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars song that hasn’t seen much of the light of day so far, but it will very soon. I still think this guy needs some hair, but the girls are screaming so much that Blake can barely get his comments out.
There you have it, folks; our Top 10 performers on The Voice. Tomorrow night, all of your votes will be tallied and the results will be announced, so join us back here as we see which eight will continue to next week.
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC.
(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)