When faced with eloquently acknowledging a tragedy on a live show, The Voice knows the right man for the job: Carson Daly. Alright, so he’s a little awkward when he tries to broach any hard-hitting news, but at least he’s better than bubbly pipsqueak Christina Milian. The yikes of the delivery vehicles aside, The Voice appropriately acknowledges Monday’s tragic tornado in Oklahoma before starting up the performances.
Oklahoman Blake Shelton, notably affected by the natural disaster in his home state, says, “It makes it hard to sit here and do this tonight,” but he fulfills his obligations with Oklahoma in his thoughts. Usher gets serious about the things, describing competing in the final ten as “guerrilla warfare,” perhaps adding a bit more intensity to the competition than it warrants. Save the war comparisons until the final four!
Shakira has a full lion mane going on, in the fiercest way possible. The curly haired coach is thrilled that her team was able to work with substitute mentor Cee Lo on their performances. “I got to work with one of the sexiest coaches in the history of The Voice,” she jokes.
Coach Adam Levine and Maroon 5 kick off the live performance of the night with their new single “Love Somebody.” (Not up on the lyrics to the band’s fourth Overexposed single? Brush up here, then.) Wearing coordinating white outfits, the band must be hoping for the same Voice Effect their past three performances has delivered, which is to say, a boost to #1 each time. Maroon 5’s single will, for tonight anyway, have to compete with those of the iTunes friendly contestants.
Team Blake: Holly Tucker
Holly Tucker chooses the gospel standard “How Great Thou Art,” which feels pretty religious for prime time. “It would be a shame to not share all of who I am,” Holly explains. Whether a mass audience can relate to the religious message remains to be seen, but her vocals were on point.
“It was a different shift for you,” Usher tells her. “I did feel like it was a bit of a departure from what I know and expect of you vocally.”
“That was heavenly. You look like an angel and you moved me,” Shakira raves.
“The pristine quality of the voice and the grace with which you delivered it with is what this is all about,” Adam says.
“I’ve never heard you sing so strong before ever,” Blake says.
Team Blake: The Swon Brothers
When explaining why The Swon Brothers have the chance to be successful, mentor Sheryl Crow brings up other successful bands with two frontmen: The Eagles and The Beatles. It seems a little early to draw a comparison between Zach and Colton Swon and John Lennon and Paul McCartney, but at the very least their mentor has confidence.
The Swon Brothers sing Randy Houser’s “How Country Feels,” feeling that it will bring them one step closer to showing America everything they have to offer. While it’s technically fine, it feels like a whole lot of the same guitar-driven country they sing most weeks.
“You guys make me feel good every time you hit the stage,” Shakira tells them, which is approximately the same thing she tells them every week.
“That was a lot of fun,” Adam says.
“People are starting to realize that these guys are goofy and crazy, but they’re great artists on top of all that,” Blake says of his duo.
Whether they make it past this round of elimination remains to be seen, but they’ll kill it on the State Fair circuit during Summer 2014.
Team Blake: Danielle Bradbery
Last up for Team Blake is Danielle Bradbery, who sold 50,000 copies of “Maybe It Was Memphis” last week on iTunes. Not too shabby for the 16-year-old newcomer! Danielle chooses an upbeat song this time around: Jo Dee Messina’s “Heads Carolina, Tails California.” Sheryl Crow tells her to work on connecting with the audience, and opens up a bit about her shift in perspective since surviving breast cancer.
“Before [breast cancer], I like my lights down low. I didn’t want to see anybody. After I had breast cancer, I wanted the lights up! I wanted to have an experience with people,” she says.
As per usual, Danielle delivers a technically sound, strong vocal performance. Improving upon past weeks, she seems to be having a bit more fun, and connecting with the audience.
“You look like summer in California. Where we are now,” Carson Daly says, clearly having graduated from the Christina Milian School Of Obvious Statements.
“I’ll go to Carolina or California with you,” Usher tells the teen.
“One of the things that I love about it is that it was carefree,” Blake says. “I like hearing her get up there as a country artist and just solidly deliver a lyric that the audience can relate to.”
Team Adam: Judith Hill
Judith Hill is visibly, genuinely torn over singing a Michael Jackson song in competition. Fearful that it will come across as exploitive to critics saying she is taking advantage of his legacy to advance, she tears up more than once over the conflicting emotions. Nonetheless, her coach encourages her to celebrate Jackson’s life and perform “The Way You Make Me Feel” — to hell with the haters.
Mentor Hillary Scott chimes in, “She deserves to have that moment, and I know she is going to do such an unbelievable job.”
Unbelievable job she does, starting the song with the slow, sultry draw of a jazz singer, and then kicking it up into full tempo. Judith certainly knows how to have fun and strut to some MJ, and it’s a real crowd pleaser.
“That was equal parts you paying homage to someone that was a big part of your life, and you being you, incredibly” Carson tells Judith when she tears up after the song.
Blake struggles and fails to find anything wrong with the performance, and Usher continues to sing her praises. “It almost conjured the same emotions you’re feeling right now just hearing the song. I miss him so much” he says.
Team Adam: Amber Carrington
“This song lines up perfectly with my life,” says Amber Carrington of Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway.” Arguably, anyone moving from anywhere to anywhere else and trying to achieve anything could say the same thing, but Amber seems to feel a real personal connection with her coach’s song choice, so we’ll give it to her.
Other than some overdone backup vocals and the high-powered fan blowing her hair everywhere, her country take on the pop song is powerful.
“That was a good call with the Kelly Clarkson song,” Blake says, much to Adam’s satisfaction.
“I was blown away, literally,” says Usher. “I loved it.”
“I think just the fact that Kelly Clarkson is in your wheelhouse means that you have an incredible voice,” Adam tells her. You can just about see Amber mentally drawing a deep connection with “A Moment Like This” through all the praise.
Team Adam – Sarah Simmons:
At some point last week, Sarah Simmons must have had her “A ha!” moment. The audience fully understands her capability to sing ethereal, folksy songs while dressed like Stevie Nicks, but has all but forgotten that she can also rock out. She, in fact, has a background in rocking out, and used to sing with a hard rock scream punk band.
Sarah’s rocking performance of Jessie J’s “Mama Knows Best” is a huge departure from past weeks in the best way possible. She’s got the range, she’s got the controlled screams, and she’s got the ability to reign it all in to a perfect performance.
“That is just rock. You just radiated sexy tonight, and I think you turned a corner musically,” Blake tells her.
“If you got it, you got it!” says Usher, “I’m really eager to hear Adam praise you because you really do deserve it.”
“You are so awesome. And I love hearing Blake wet his pants over you,” Adam says.
“Just when we think we know everything about what it is you do, you totally flip it on everybody. This was the performance of the night tonight.”
Team Shakira: Sasha Allen
Shakira has been really hit or miss with her song choices on The Voice (lest we forget the eliminated Garrett Gardner and his Backstreet Boys cover and a non-ironic use of Heart all in one week). This week, however, she manages to find a great choice for powerhouse Sasha Allen. Making her take a break from her classic renditions, Shakira selects Emile Sande’s “Next to Me.”
Cee Lo, who has a disappointing zero animals in tow and is wearing a black button up with no ridiculous accessories, encourages Sasha to “find that character on stage.” Through the Top 40 hit, Sasha manages to hold on to her classically trained tone, and it works. She lets loose on the chorus and has Shakira up out of her seat dancing. We would have liked to see a little more movement on stage from Sasha, but that’s for another reality show.
“I’m really super proud of you,” Adam says.
“I think it was time for you to come out and just be uptempo, fun and rocking out. Your coach had some sort of a fit,” Blake tells Sasha of Shakira’s enthusiastic dancing.
“Your an incredible artist and an incredible singer,” says Usher, “I’m really happy to see you having fun this week.”
“I’m so happy because you look fabulous. I’m so proud as a coach that you were able to show your versatility. You completely rocked this song!” Shakira raves.
Team Shakira: Kris Thomas
“You have the sexiest coach in the history of The Voice here to coach you,” Shakira tells Kris Thomas when she introduces him to Cee Lo. Together, they try to mentor Kris through Miguel’s “Adorn.” Kris tells both Grammy winners about his on-again, off-again girlfriend (they could not care less), and that he has trouble relating to Miguel’s seductive tune.
“Find someone in the audience and sing to them. You’ll find that swagger you need,” says Cee Lo, ever the philosopher. For more practical advice, Cee Lo encourages Kris to check out Marvin Gaye and Prince for swagger inspiration.
Vocally, the performance is sound, but Kris never quite loosens up. His effortless falsettos impress the judges, who are more taken with his voice than his overall performance.
“You did a great job. You have a fantastic voice,” Adam says, but adds, “I want to just feel you thinking less. Just throw it away and have more fun.”
“You could have chosen a better song, but it was 100% a great attempt,” Usher tells Kris, setting off Shakira’s rage trigger.
“I honestly think that that song was perfect for him,” she counters. “He showed us everything that he was capable of doing with his voice.”
By the time Shakira is done arguing why “Adorn” was the perfect choice for Kris, Usher is hiding behind his chair. Literally.
Team Usher: Josiah Hawley
Josiah Hawley continues to be so pretty, but Pharrell Williams is having none of his back-up career. “The model thing? I would leave that alone,” he says, fully believing in Josiah’s ability to move audiences with more than just his chiseled features.
Usher picks Coldplay’s “Clocks” for Josiah, and it immediately appears to be an uphill battle to hit the higher end of Chris Martin’s range. The song choice doesn’t do Josiah any favors. He fails to add any touches that would set him apart from the band, so it sounds like a watered-down cover. Wearing the guitar instead of playing it after the first verse never helps. At the very least, he’s a hit with the ladies, who need to be calmed down before the judges can get into their comments.
“Any attempt from us mere mortals to try to evoke the magic that happens in Coldplay’s performance is almost Mission Impossible,” says Shakira. “However, you did a great attempt.”
“It was a little inconsistent for me, but you really did a great job,” Adam tells him.
“I will say that it is good to be able to take constructive criticism and make yourself better,” says Usher. “I’m going to continue to nurture that voice.”
Coaches comments aside, if the live audience is any indication, Josiah has a whole lot of ladies pulling for him to make it through to next week. They’re probably still screaming for him.
Team Usher: Michelle Chamuel
Michelle Chamuel closes out the night with Pink’s “Just Give Me a Reason.” Before she hits the stage, she gets some soaring praise from Pharrell. “I know genius monster singers when I see them that are going to have long careers,” he says. “You are one of them.”
The song does, indeed, allow Michelle to showcase her monster voice, and even though it’s slower than some of her past performances, it still includes a series of her signature lunges.
Usher can barely stay in his seat to hear what the other coaches have to say, he is so happy with the performance.
“I’m a fan of yours. I’m so happy and proud every time I see you perform,” Adam tells her.
“I love how dramatic you are when you’re performing. It’s amazing,” Blake says, marveling at her intense lunges.
“I’ll say that that was the performance of the night,” Usher says, countering Adam’s earlier assertion that Sarah Simmons held that honor. “You are the theatrics. You are the vocals. You are everything. There’s nothing on the stage but you,” he says, beaming.
Before the results are in on Tuesday night’s show, both Shakira and Usher will perform with their teams. Here’s hoping that Shakira’s hip shaking carries over to her contestants, and that an epic Usher/Michelle Chamuel dance-off erupts on stage.