It looks like Gwyneth Paltrow has taken over The Voice, because Tuesday night’s episode sure was Country Strong! Blake Shelton traded his spiked lattes for some Southern Comfort (in a Starbucks cup, natch), and ignored any other genre in favor of straight-up, down home country. “I’m country proud,” said the Oklahoma native, who’s final four performed in Tuesday’s Live Playoffs.
Pop diva Shakira even joined in on the country action by performing a duet in genre with her fellow coach. Her team performances, on the other hand, ran the gamut of soul, R&B and even glam rock: they clearly missed the country night memo. “I just hope God is with us tonight,” Shakira said before the show kicke off.
Performance by Blake and Shakira:
“One’s a global sensation from Colombia and one’s a country superstar from Oklahoma,” says Carson Daly, introducing the unlikely duet between Blake and Shakira. The dynamic duo sings Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now,” and
while it’s all fine and good, wouldn’t it have been so much more fun if the two performed “She Wolf?” As it is, Shakira rocks her toned post-baby body, and Blake rocks another vest. Supportive fellow coaches Adam Levine and Usher bring on the applause.
Team Shakira: Group Performance
It’s a little early to be gloating, but no one’s told Shakira. After a team dancing and attitude session with choreographer, Hi-Hat, Team Shakira performs Queen’s “We Are The Champions.” Despite the premature declaration (I mean, did they even see Team Adam last night?), it’s a solid and fun performance — one that belongs in a karaoke bar, but fun none the less.
Team Shakira: Garrett Gardner
Shakira, who nary a day ago chastised a contestant for singing an iconic Whitney Houston song as “walking on holy ground,” assigns Garrett Gardner John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Talk about iconic shoes to fill!
“I’m such a John Lennon fanatic,” young Garrett says. Shakira is sure the music legend would be proud, “wherever he is.” Cue Beatles mania Internet rage in 3…2…
Holy ground and assuming the support of dead legends aside, it’s a strong performance by Garrett. He shows off more musical skills behind the piano, and gives the simple song a bit of his signature rasp.
“My favorite thing about him is that there’s a beast in there that comes out,” says Blake of Garrett’s growl.
Adam, however, struggles with hearing anyone else sing “Imagine.” He tells Garrett, “If it’s not John Lennon, it’s hard. However, it was nice seeing a side of you that we normally don’t get to see.”
Shakira just gushes. “I think you are the epitome of what this show is about and what America is about,” she says of her pet.
Team Shakira: Kris Thomas
After opening up about being tormented for his feminine singing voice growing up, Kris Thomas sings Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man.” He starts off pretty stiff, but the song allows him to showcase his range and sweet falsettos, and he eventually makes the song his own when he hits huge notes and adds soaring runs.
“I did kind of feel like you were so nervous. I felt the tension a little bit,” says Adam.
“if you’re not up here getting nervous, then it doesn’t mean anything to you,” Blake counters. He also mentions that Kris sings from “the girl place,” making it clear that Blake would have been one of the kids making fun of Kris’ voice growing up.
“You know I adore you because you are so special,” Shakira says. “You make me feel so much.”
Team Shakira: Karina Iglesias
Rocker Karina Iglesias tries her hand at a soul number, performing Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” “I’m dedicating this song to Shakira. I want to stay together with her on this team,” Karina says, and clearly she’s taken some cues from her coach. Hints of Shakira’s distinguishable tone sneak into the contestant’s performance, which starts off slow and builds to a powerful ending.
“I foolishly gave you up to Shakira. I feel foolish for doing it because you are clearly just a talented woman,” her former coach, Adam, says.
“I thought that microphone was just going to break into a bunch of pieces. It was intense,” Blake says.
“You gave me everything. You have a pair of lungs that…wow…my God,” Shakira raves.
Team Shakira: Sasha Allen
Shakira really stole some great discards from Team Adam during the Battle Round! Between Karina Iglesias and Sasha Allen, it’s arguable that the strongest members of her remaining team were farmed from Team Adam.
Sasha sings The Beatles’s “Oh! Darling,” and you don’t hear any coaches complain about her cover of this iconic song. Sasha has a perfect balance of sex appeal and power in her soulful performance, and her attitude and screaming high notes make their way all the way back to the nosebleeds.
“You are an incredible vocalist, and I like your outfit today,” Usher tells her.
“Everybody who just saw that fell in love with you,” Blake says, identifying her as a threat to his own team.
Shakira, who gives Sasha a standing ovation and bows down, tells her, “You have one of the best voices I’ve ever heard in my life, hands down.”
Team Blake: Group Performance
To loosen his team up, Blake gathers the group for a round of karaoke. It’s pretty awkward, from the looks of it, and unless those Starbucks cups are filled with booze, there is no excuse for the ridiculous dancing.
The group sets the country tone for the team’s solo performances with Little Big Town’s “Boondocks.” As awkward as their karaoke practice was, it pays off, and the performance is fun to watch.
Team Blake: Holly Tucker:
Cue Christina Aguilera, because Holly Tucker needs somebody to tell her she is “Beautiful.” The country singer says, “I don’t fit the mold of what a super star should look like.” Blake disagrees, telling her she can be a model — a role model.
Holly sings Trisha Yearwood/Leann Rimes’ “How Do I Live,” and other than a few shaky runs, she wows the coaches.
“That’s one of my favorite songs,” says Usher, highlighting that his eclectic taste includes even mid ’90s country-pop. “You made it more personal and did an incredible job.”
“You have such a pretty tone to your voice and you are so reliable pitch wise,” Shakira says.
“You are better looking and more talented than Blake is. You are amazing, and I love you and you’re super talented,” Adam gushes.
“You just proved to America that you deserve a chance to be here,” Blake says, giving Holly a standing ovation. “Everyone in this competition just sat up and said ‘oh crap, that is who I have to beat.’”
Team Blake: The Swon Brothers
The last remaining duo of the competition, The Swon Brothers, take their performance way country under the guidance of Coach Blake. They perform “Fishing In The Dark,” a song by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. It is as country as it sounds, but just go with it: Blake is having a moment.
The Swon Brothers put a lot of focus on working the audience, but it doesn’t hamper their vocal performance. Though not the most exciting or risky performance, it’s technically sound.
“I’m not familiar with that song,” Usher tells them, “but it was a lot of fun.”
Shakira piles on the unintentional backhanded compliments. “You don’t do anything strenuous or try to do anything crazy to impress us, you just vibe,” she says. “And I love that.”
“The harmonies were tight,” their excited coach tells them, “I can’t even tell you how many people across this land are thinking, ‘Holy crap. Those guys just did ‘Fishing in the Dark’ on The Voice!’” Blake’s plan to take over the show with country, if only for a night, is a success!
Team Blake: Justin Rivers:
Continuing with the country theme of Blake’s team, Justin Rivers performs Diamond Rio’s “Meet in the Middle.” Shelton tells him, “You’re going to be one of those dark horses that people didn’t see coming.”
The ladies love his performance, despite the fact that he takes most of his breaths into the microphone. Blake gives him a standing ovation, but, let’s face it, he gives all of his team members a standing ovation.
“That was an incredible country moment and I was happy to be a part of it,” Usher says, likening his experience in the audience to what Justin Rivers must feel like at a hip hop concert.
“I love that there’s a country artist now that’s genuinely a threat to Blake’s career,” Adam laughs.
“This is a big moment for you tonight. I loved watching the experience that you have,” Blake says.
Team Blake: Danielle Bradbery
Oof. Someone gave innocent-in-cowboy-boots Danielle Bradbery the Coyote Ugly makeover. Despite her shiny pants and bustier top, the 16-year-old still exudes pleasant naivete. “I definitely get starstruck around Blake,” she says.
Danielle performs Pam Tillis’ “Maybe it was Memphis,” with Blake singing along in the audience. She’s easily one of the top vocalists in competition, enough so to make the other coaches nervous.
“Way to change your boots and put on some cool pants. That was an incredible performance. This is definitely the beginning of a very long career,” Usher tells her.
“In the wise words of my friend Blake Shelton I have just one thing to say: ‘holy crap,’” says Shakira.
“I think you’re one of the ones to beat. You are one of the best singers in the competition,” Adam says.
“You brought the song to a new generation,” Blake tells her, “Danielle is one of the most important artists who’s ever been on The Voice.”
Hyperbolic coach comments aside, Wednesday night will reveal who America votes through to next week! While the results may be exciting, let’s be real: Cee Lo’s grand return to The Voice stage is the real driving factor to tune in! What will he sing? What will he wear!? What animal(s) will accompany him!?!? WILL THERE BE MUPPETS OR OTHER ODD CREATURES (not including Rod Stewart, who performs on Wednesday as well)!!!???