“Beautiful!” “Magic!” and “Special!” were just a few of the ways that the coaches described The Voice on Monday night, stopping just short of calling it the most important show of a generation (though it was certainly implied). Coaches Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton definitely only had positive things to say about The Voice, one another and each and every contestant. (On a very related note, don’t forget to tune in to The Voice on Thursday, for a special live results scheduled against the first X Factor live results. It all comes together.)
Whatever the reason may have been for the love fest, there was nothing a contestant could do to get criticism from these coaches. Even calling out their own flaws didn’t work! While an overall strong night for Team Blake and Team Adam, the contestants were far from the perfection that the coaches experienced.
Before the amateurs, Xtina and Flo-Rida kick off the show with “How I Feel.” It’s a whole lot of sparkle, pouting and fringe — not that you’d expect anything different. Xtina strips down to super minimal attire to show off her amazing bod, while Flo-rida inexplicably keeps his movie ticket taker ensemble on.
Team Blake: Shelbie Z
Shelbie Z., who managed to fit in her wedding since the Knockout round, kicks off the night for Team Blake. The “Alabama newlywed” sings Reba McEntire’s “Fanc,” for her first live performance, and wants to “redneck it up a bit.” No arguments from Blake. She’s got some incredibly powerful moments, with just a few rough bits in her lower register that no one acknowledges.
“There’s no doubt when you get on that stage you bring it home,” Christina says.
“You really make Blake’s team look really strong,” says Cee Lo.
“It was a pretty flawless performance,” Adam says.
Her coach is all praise, and tells Shelbie, “You command the stage.”
Team Blake: Nic Hawk
Right around the time Nic Hawk takes the stage, one begins wondering if the coaches are watching a different performance than The Voice is airing. Nic, who eked by on “Genie in a Bottle” in the Knockouts, is assigned Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” by Coach Blake. Let’s clarify: he takes on Robin Thicke, T.I. and Pharrell’s sections. It’s rough.
Nic misses note after note from the beginning, is out of breath (due to taking on each and every part) and it’s utterly uncomfortable to watch. There is inexplicably uniform praise from the coaches.
“Nic is one of my favorites,” says Cee Lo. “Great performance!”
“How can anyone watch Nic perform and not be entertained?” Adam asks.
“You are the complete entertainer. I can’t say it enough,” says Blake.
Certainly Christina can find something critical to say, right? “Fabulous job,” she says. (COME ON!)
Only Nic notices that he’s bad, and mentions to Coach Blake that “the singing could have been a little bit better.”
Team Blake: Ray Boudreaux
Ray Boudraux is on a mission to make Swamp Pop happen across America. He sings Marc Broussard’s “Home,” a first step in this nobel journey. Ray’s got a strong, bluesy vibe, and shows more charisma than past performances.
“I loved it. That was the most connected I’ve ever seen you,” says Christina.
“That’s a hard song to do,” says Adam, adding, “I think you did an incredible job.”
“You’re in a position to bring so much awareness to that Delta Blues sound that you love,” says Blake.
Team Blake: Austin Jenckes
The consistently strong Austin Jenckes is up next, singing The Black Crowes‘ “She Talks To Angels.” The song is well-suited for his raspy voice, and he’s strong throughout. The high praise from the coaches is well deserved.
“You sing with so much heart,” Christina says.
“You’ve been one of my favorites from the beginning,” says Cee Lo, and then goes on to talk about how The Voice is the best show…ever.
“I think you’re an incredible vocalist,” says Adam, who then offers to take Austin on a Harley ride with he and Carson Daly. Imagine that trio!
Blake jumps in with the much-missed Blake Math, telling Austin, “Whatever song you’re going to perform for me, you’re going to give me 150% of what’s in your heart.”
Team Blake: Cole Vosbury
Cole Vosbury, a steal from the Knockout round, is new to Team Blake. Naturally, his new coach wants to quickly learn everything about him, specifically if his beard is real or extensions (incidentally: real). All part of the coaching process, apparently. Blake assigns Cole Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May.” Although his performance marks the first noticeable instance of of out of sync audience clapping for the season, his voice shines through. Adam is inspired to sing along from his red chair.
“I can’t believe that you were a single-chair turn. I don’t know where I was,” says Christina.
“I still love you unconditionally,” says Cee Lo, adding, “I’m friends with you and I’m friends with Rod Stewart.” Cee Lo’s parties must be so eclectic!
“I’ve regretted not turning around for you ever since I didn’t turn around for you,” says Adam.
“I feel like I ended up with a guy who could win this whole thing,” says Coach Blake.
Team Adam: James Wolpert
Like a fine wine, James Wolpert looks like he’s probably spent a lot of time at parties in Connecticut. Oh, and he’s getting better with time — but let’s get the makeover squad on him, stat. James sings Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,” and the stripped down performance features just his voice and acoustic guitar. His emotional performance keeps a beautiful tone and consistent strength, and he demonstrates great control of his breath in drawing out each line. Adam looks mesmerized throughout.
“You can’t be a geek and be that awesome!” Blake observes.
“You really grounded yourself in this song. You made it a safe haven that drew people into what you were doing,” Christina says poetically.
“Your image and your ability is an irony that’s very attractive and undeniable,” says Cee Lo. “Great job.”
“You came back, did something incredibly bold,” says Adam. “I could not possibly be more proud of you.”
Team Adam: Grey
Perhaps in an effort to create the next generation of Cassadee Pope, Adam selects Paramore’s “Still Into You” to eliminate his contestant Grey’s wedding singer tendencies. It does pull her out of a constant loop of “Eternal Flame,” but her performance is forgettable, and looks more like a wedding singer faking bravado than a rock star with genuine bravado.
“You’re just awesome, Grey,” Blake says after babbling on about his failed plot to steal her in the Knockout round.
“They’re in love with you,” says Adam. “I couldn’t be prouder.”
Team Adam: Will Champlin
Despite the fact that Will Champlin has bounced to a new team every round, he shows marked improvement with each performance. The Team Adam turned Team Christina turned Team Adam artist sings OneRepublic’s “Secrets,” and adds his piano skills to the mix for the first time. The stripped down showing is all soul and unique vocals, with only minor hiccups transitioning between the piano and standing that are more logistical than a function of his voice.
“It was so beautiful and so touching,” says former coach Christina.
“Really impressive,” says Cee Lo. “Very dynamic, very definitive performance for you.”
“Your voice, and the things you do with it, especially in your higher register, you have a special gift,” says his on-again coach Adam.
Team Adam: Preston Pohl
Preston Pohl’s rasp and classic tone takes every song he sings back eras. B.O.B’s “Nothing On You” is no exception. Even through the well-executed rap section (taking notes, Nic Hawk?), Preston manages to put his stamp on every moment of his performance.
“I’m blown away by the pocket, and the pitch and your passion when you’re performing,” says Blake.
“Your voice is just an old soul within itself,” says Christina, adding, “I’m a fan.”
“I’m not sure if there’s anybody in this competition with something as unique as what you have,” Adam tells him.
Team Adam: Tessanne Chin
Tessanne Chin’s early flawlessness is reminiscent of Season 4’s Judith Hill, which brings about the concern (to people who analyze The Voice way too much) that she may peak early. One can only hope her performances keep the audience interested, and she stays on through the end. Because she’s damn good.
Tessanne’s performance of mentor Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers To Cross” literally brings the hopeful singer to tears! It earns a standing ovation from her coach, and rave reviews from the others.
“I knew from day one when I heard you that you were capable about that type of gorgeous soaring vocals,” Christina says.
Cee Lo quotes Bob Marley to her, awed past the point of saying anything else too terribly coherent.
“Your talent is just mind boggling,” says Adam. “It does not get better than what you just did vocally.”
Not a bad start to the Live Rounds for Blake and Adam’s teams. Team Xtina and Team Cee Lo are up Tuesday night before Thursday’s results cut the field of 20 down to 12 (and the X Factor ratings down as well).
Which were your favorite performances of the night?