Here we are in the final stretch of The Voice season 9. With 20 episodes down, only a handful of episodes remain; seven, if my math is correct. The most recent live eliminations left some of us viewers, including your truly, stunned as America used the instant Twitter Save to advance shy and awkward Korin Bukowski over the energetic and alluring and entertaining Mark Hood.

'The Voice' Recap: The Top 11 Perform

Maybe it was the transformation of Korin’s tresses into a platinum-y Gwen Stefani look-alike that blinded some people (she even drops the goggles in the Top 11). It was super cool to see Korin’s shocked response when her name was called. It’s pretty clear she thought she didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell up against Mark. Take a look at the results of our Twitter Save poll below.

Vote for Your Favorite Top 11 Performance

We like to hear your thoughts about the evening’s entertainment. Please feel free to write in the comments section throughout this live blog, but also remember we have one more fun activity for you before the evening is out. At the end of our recap, we’ll be including a poll. Not everyone is comfortable or interested in airing their opinions on public blogs, but the poll voting is easy and anonymous. I check back frequently for a couple days to see what y’all have to say by way of your vote. So pay close attention and come back later in the night to cast your vote for your favorite act of the night.

The Live Blog Begins Now

Carson Daly tells us about the artists getting to include their family members in some of their practices. Shelby’s dad is the first family member we get to meet. Oh, and later, Pharrell is going to perform for us.

Shelby Brown Performs “You and I”

During practice, Adam promises Shelby that he’ll buy her a giraffe if she kicks ass with her performance. When she takes the stage, she’s decked in a flattering sparkling dress and some triangular earrings that I’d like to steal. Her performance is rockin’, and Adam gives her a victory fist pump as she finishes.

Blake says this was a perfect song for Shelby, and Gwen totally agrees. Pharrell says that whatever the requirements were for her to get a giraffe, she has met them. Adam’s not sure how he’s going to arrange it, but he agrees that, yes, she killed it. Maybe he’ll keep a stuffed giraffe tucked under his chair and hand it off to her during the eliminations when she learns she’s safe for another round. 

Evan McKeel Performs “Smile”

I love this kid. I bought his cover of “Dare You to Move” and have worn a hole in my iPod with it. Evan joins Pharrell and Evan during their practice. Pharrell even lets her sit in his big red chair. “Smile” is a song about hope, which Evan feels our nation really needs to hear right now. It’s a little awkward to watch at first because it feels like a copy cat of Jordan’s spiritual a capella hymn last time, but that passes because this is such a secular song. As he performs, there’s the moving shadow of a woman dancing in the background. It’s distracting and I’m not sure why they did that. His performance goes well, though he’s just a touch flat twice.

Gwen says it was her favorite of his performances. Blake says he seems like a pro, something he now understands having seen Evan’s pre-performance vignette about what Evan does. For me personally, Evan hasn’t recreated or bested his performance of “Dare You to Move” from the Knockouts.

Barrett Baber Performs “Delta Dawn”

Barrett brings his wife to practice and unveils an energetic and rocking strategy for his performance of the country classic. He says this performance is the one that will reveal that he’s a writer, an artist who thinks outside the box. He and his wife met while he was performing at frat houses, and the rest is history, as they say.

I grew up listening to Helen Reddy albums over and over. Reddy was the first to take “Delta Dawn” to the very top of the charts. I can, without reservation, say that Barrett kicks the poo out of his funky rock and roll version of “Delta Dawn,” actually improving on the original recorded by Tanya Tucker and doing as well as, if not better than, Reddy and Bette Midler, who also recorded it.

Blake can’t stop yelping his approval, causing the coaches to fall apart. Gwen says Barrett has command of the audience and makes us feel like we know him personally, even though we don’t. As Blake makes his comments, Adam yelps several times. Blake says Barrett took us all to church with that song.

Korin Bukowski Performs “Only Hope”

Korin’s dad joins her and Gwen for practice. Gwen tells her not to hold anything back during this performance if she wants to continue. Oh … my … gawd. She takes the stage without her glasses! The transformation is complete. She’s a beautiful woman. Her voice is delicate and sounds like the jewels on a chandelier tinkling against each other. She has a number of higher register sections that are not nearly as strong as her full-on voice. She should spend more time in that mid-range sweet spot.

Right now, I’d say the best performance was Barrett, followed by Shelby, then Evan, with Korin at the bottom.

Amy Vachal Performs “Blank Space”

Amy’s father accompanies her to practice with Adam. She’s doing a mellowed out version of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” Adam tells her to lose the guitar and focus on her voice. I don’t know why anyone would want to play an instrument while competing in a vocal competition; how could it not be distracting?

It’s a beautiful performance from a beautiful woman. She’s such a sweet meringue covered in rich dark chocolate. Amy is the most elegant and quietly endearing performer on The Voice in a long time. The strongest part of the performance begins with the bridge about boys only wanting love if it’s torture. From them on, the song takes on a unique flavor that distinguishes Amy’s version from Swift’s. This is the first time I’ve felt like paying attention to all the words of “Blank Space.” That’s saying something in a household with teenagers who love Swift.

Pharrell Williams Performs “Freedom”

Surrounded by coeds dressed in blue and green over white button-down shirts, Pharrell takes the stage behind opaque sunglasses. It’s a fun song, mostly for the spirit and message it delivers. Can Pharrell even sing? He seems to be softly rapping, then screeching.

Zach Seabaugh Performs “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not”

Zach brings Mom to practice with Blake. His mother says she was uncomfortable with the pelvic gyrations her son planned for his performance of “Brand New Girlfriend,” but in the end she feels he did a good job. Apparently, America agreed.

Even though he’s not the best singer on the show, and even though his range is narrow and not very strong, this song is so dang sweet that it does melt my soul a little bit. Sweet. Sweet. Sweet. And romantic. It makes a person’s heart cry out for the days when they were crazy in love. Gwen says it’s cheating to sing such a romantic song after already winning the hearts of men and women with his “Brand New Girlfriend” swagger. Adam says he has it all. Blake calls out about the Elvis in Zach. Blake says the vocals were great … hmm. He’s only the cutest dang thing to ever grace The Voice stage. (That’s a personal observation, by the way.)

Madi Davis Performs “Love is Blindness”

Madi’s mom joins her for practice with Pharrell. It sounds like she’s doing another super mellow song like “A Case of You,” which I totally loved. She performs while playing the piano. For those unfamiliar with the song, it probably seems to drag along for quite a while before she kicks it up a notch into the higher register where her strength definitely lives. Jack White’s version of this song on The Great Gatsby soundtrack has a James Bond flavor to it, but Madi classes it up a lot. Pharrell hugs Madi on stage after her performance. Carson skips over Gwen for commentary because she’s bawling her eyes out. Blake says it was the best performance of the evening. I’m thinking that this is the kind of song that grows on you if don’t like it at first.

Braiden Sunshine Performs “True”

Braiden’s dad comes to practice with Gwen. Dad looks just like a straight-haired older version of Braiden. This is a catchy Spandau Ballet song from the ’80s. All in black, wearing tennis shoes and hair locked in place with lots of product, Braiden takes the stage. It’s hard not to sing along as he performs, but is it a good competition piece? Mmmm. He’s not bad, but did he outperform the seven artists before him?

Jordan Smith Performs “Who You Are”

Jordan brings his mom to practice with Adam. Jordan’s mom tells Adam some embarrassing stories from his childhood. What else are mothers for, right? What can one say about Jordan’s performances other than that he always knocks them out of the park? This time around, it’s a song of self-empowerment. The crowd goes wild. Of course. He’s such a gracious person as well. Adam says he’s one of the best performers he knows because he brings everyone with him through the emotion of his songs.

Emily Ann Roberts Performs “Why Not Me”

Emily Ann’s father joins her for practice with Blake. Together, they take the song and “blue grass it up” for her performance in the Top 11. I have a confession to make. I was pretty harsh on Emily Ann in the Top 12. Since then, I have re-watched her performance and have to admit that she’s not as Dolly Parton-y as I thought. Her sass comes out in her body movements, which I missed while staring at my keyboard last time.

While singing and strumming her guitar, Emily Ann has left Lawrence Welk and Dolly Parton behind. She has a versatile voice and tremendous control of her craft. She sings her little heart out during the choruses. Her saucy personality is starting to come out even more than the backstage clips alluded to from this and the previous round.

Jeffery Austin Performs “Dancing on My Own”

Jeffery brings his mother to practice with Gwen and talks about how awesome it is to wake up in the morning and find that your song is #9 on the iTunes charts. He’s also thrilled to be a gay man singing Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” on primetime national television. For his Top 11 performance, he’s taking a disco song and turning into an emotional ballad. Gwen is sure that she has just won season 9 of The Voice.

Jeffery can’t give a bad performance. Gwen is proud and crying once again. What moves me is the emotion Jeffery pours into this song and the fact that he changes the pronouns to maintain the unique spirit of this song. Bravo. Jeffery is pretty awesome and probably safe, at least for this round.

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

(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)

Catherine Cabanela

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV