After the surprises and confirmations of the first live eliminations of The Voice season 9, we are now down to 12 artists still competing for the title. We’re live blogging the event, so refresh your browser every once in a while to follow along with us.
Come back in a little bit and we’ll be updating our live coverage of the Top 12 performing.
Our Hearts, Thoughts and Prayers are with Paris
The Voice opens with a quiet moment during which the entire cast of coaches and artists stands on the stage together for a touching message to those affected by the devastating massacre in Paris Friday night. I have to admit, I’m impressed. Well done, The Voice.
Braiden Sunshine Opens the Show with “Renegade”
Gwen starts out the Top 12 with the youngest artist in the competition. She advises him to take command of the stage with 100% body confidence, which he admits he lacks. She says he’s already a rock star; now he just has to own it.
Once again, the little man hits the stage in straightened hair sans goggles. I can’t decide if his voice is truly worthy of this stage or if it’s his novelty that got him here. His affect is still too young to make him provocative. His performance is decent and he comfortably jousts with Adam and Blake post-performance. The coaches talk about Braiden’s bad-ass past, which included dancing on top of bars in adult establishments. Pharrell is with me in wondering if this kid is truly good or simply amazing for his age?
Adam and Blake are Not Going to Take It
Do we all get the same commercials, folks? Here in the midwest, when we cut for commercials, I’ve got Blake and Adam in a Nissan commercial getting down to Twisted Sisters’ “We’re Not Gonna Take It” as they talk about carpooling to work every day. You know these two love each other in the real world. I wonder if they really ever go anywhere together.
Amy Vachal Performs “Hotline Blink”
Adam gives Amy a song that surprises her. He’s trying to make her more current, instead of sticking to her oldies. He wants to tap into her jazzy side. Pharrell drops into their practice for a moment to recommend that they use some kind of bass during the song to bring out her unique sound. Adams tells her that she has to have an emotional breakthrough on the stage.
She’s dressed in a beautiful white full-length dress with a bass strapped across her body. It’s a mellow and mesmerizing delivery. I can see how she could be a star. In the comments, Blake jokes that Gwen sang that song to him on the Tonight Show. At this comment, the coaches lose it. Pharrell can’t even get to his comments for Amy. There has been so much buzz on social media about recently-divorced Gwen and Blake that I’m surprised it’s taken this long for comments like that to start flying. Who knows if there’s any truth to it? And, quite frankly, it’s none of our damn business, but it does provide some comic relief to the proceedings.
Jack Coleman from Heroes Reborn is in the audience and gets a nod from Carson Daly.
Mark Hood Performs “Against All Odds”
I grew up in the Phil Collins era, so this song makes me smile. Mark does a stripped-down version, but his crisp annunciation of the words steals some of the ballad’s relaxed and passionate mood. Pharrell gives him a standing ovation and women are screaming their lungs out. This performance isn’t quite conjuring images of a half-clad Rachel Ward making out in the surf with Jeff Bridges in From Here to Eternity, but Mark does the song justice.
Emily Ann Roberts Performs “Blame It on Your Heart”
‘The new power female in the country music world’ — that’s what Blake calls Emily Ann. Emily tells us she’s #13 on Billboard’s Top 200 and #3 on the country charts. She tells us how all of her girlfriends are lusting over Zach Seabaugh, but her song is about how stupid boys are.
She lays down a nice track for us, but she really needs a little Taylor Swift sass in her performance. This song doesn’t challenge her; maybe that’s what’s missing? In my mind’s eye, I’m seeing her in a white turtleneck, a full-length quilted skirt and an enormous white wig singing alongside Dolly Parton on The Lawrence Welk Show.
Korin Bukowski Performs “Titanium”
Korin had an unsupported high school experience, which made a mess of her self-confidence. Gwen advises her to go platinum with her hair. Gwen says she feels a connection with Korin. She’s quirky and pure.
Korin takes the stage and we get the first look at her golden tresses. She’s still in the black glasses, but she looks like the superhero on the verge of ripping off the glasses and blazer before flying off to stop a burning meteor from crashing into the earth. In short, she’s beautiful. Some of her distracting awkwardness is gone and we can focus on her voice. It’s delicate. She goes flat on one of the high notes, but she does well. Blake hopes she remembers that her lack of swagger is what makes her so cool.
Barrett Baber Performs “Right Here Waiting”
He’s come a long way from being a high school teacher. Blake wants Barrett to stand in one place and pour his heart out during this performance. Barrett promises to bring the thunder to this performance.
Okay, this song kills me, tugs at my heart, as Barrett sings it to his family. I can’t decide what I think about the performance, though. Barrett is an expert at showing strength and emotion, and he stays in one place as long as he possibly can. Some of the notes he holds end up being a little whiny or slide-y, but he does well. This isn’t my favorite of his performances, but there’s something alluring, something sexy, about this guy.
Madi Davis Performs “Who Will Save Your Soul”
Pharrell and Madi discuss Madi’s fashion taste as well as her performance style. They decide to take “Who Will Save Your Soul” and go a little funky with it.
When she performs it, the song is almost unrecognizable until she gets to the chorus. She has an undeniable gift. If she doesn’t make it to the next round, it might be because the arrangement is too much of a departure from the original. Gwen compliments Madi on the boldness of her vocal performance. Blake says she snuck up on him this season. She’s an amazing singer, he says. Pharrell stands and reminds the crowd that she’s only 16 years old. He admires her for knowing exactly who she is and what she wants.
Carson Says There’s Only One Loser
Have I not been paying attention this whole time, or did Carson misspeak? Before we go to commercial, he says we all need to vote for our Top 11. What? Last season, we went from the Top 12 to the Top 10, skipping 11. Low and behold, my episode listing says we are most certainly having a Top 11 round. Okay, just so we’re clear.
Jeffery Austin Performs “Let It Go”
Jeffery thanks Gwen for being straight with him when his delivery wasn’t that convincing. That feedback changed his stage performing forever. He says he lost his dad when he was 9, so he holds tightly to those he loves and this song means a lot to him. Forget Disney’s song with the same title, this is James Bay’s little known “Let It Go.” Per usual, Jeffery’s delivery is soulful and sweet.
Shelby Brown Performs “In Color”
Adam talks to Shelby about how to get out of her head when she sings. She breaks down during practice and talks about how stressed she sometimes gets and how that stress has a habit of coming out at the most inconvenient times. Adam says Shelby’s range is limitless and she’s a force to be reckoned with.
Whatever he says to her about getting out of her head works because she kills “In Color.” Blake calls attention to the moment during the performance when Shelby got ahead of the band. Is he doing that to knock this performance down a little so Adam doesn’t win this year? Who knows? Adam addresses it as well and says she recovered swiftly, delivering her most powerful note to date, and he’s proud of her for it. This was the most powerful performance so far this evening.
Evan McKeel Performs “This is It”
Evan admits that he didn’t feel quite right during his performance of “Overjoyed” in the Live Playoffs. I’m glad he admits it because I found that performance disappointing. I like this guy and know he could have done better. Just like with Pharrell’s two other artists, we see Pharrell video conferencing with his artist.
Evan is a new man on the stage with “This is It.” He’s got some swagger that he hasn’t had before. You can tell he’s having a great time. Gwen comments on how free Evan was on the stage. Pharrell asks Evan how he felt, and he admits to feeling awesome. The performance sounds exactly like the original version, but is that enough? For Evan to stand out, we need to see more “Dare You to Move” caliber performances from him. That’s my two cents.
Jordan Smith Performs “Great is Thy Faithfulness”
Jordan gets emotional while talking about his faith in God’s faithfulness, which gets him through every day. Adam says Jordan has the same magic Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder have, the kind of magic that moves people. He recommends that Jordan performs without the band. It will be just Jordan, his big voice and his keyboard.
The entire first verse is a capella. Jordan’s voice is clean and clear. Barely any vibrato or vocal gymnastics, which most artists use to impress the audience. At the chorus, Jordan adds his keyboard accompaniment. It’s absolutely intimate and gorgeous. It’s clear that the audience is moved by the performance.
Adam can’t help but run to Jordan and embrace him once the song ends. I get the impression that Jordan, for Adam, is an amazing experience. Like, Adam feels changed by knowing Jordan. Wow. Pharrell directs everyone to get on iTunes right now and buy this song. Blake mentions the tragedy in Paris. Like there could ever be a dry eye in the house after that…
Zach Seabaugh Performs “My Love”
Zach says he left everything out on the stage during his performance of “Brand New Girlfriend.” During practice, Blake has Zach dance to the music from Footloose, the musical Zach was recently in. Blake advises that he focus on a couple girls and really sing to them during the performance.
When he takes the stage, Zach is dressed exactly how you want a guy to be when he picks you up for a date that you can already tell is going to change your life or, at least, your year. He goes a little flat in the first verse, but I don’t think anyone notices because they are too busy getting their panties melted. Zach is definitely gorgeous (is he actually wearing lipstick?), but his voice is the most mediocre of all the artists this evening. I’ve come to that conclusion by rewinding and listening to the performance with my eyes closed. His sex appeal will get him through to the next round at a minimum. Who will he beaten out? Well, that’s up to you, America. Go vote.
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC.
(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)