Monday’s episode of The Voice featured live performances from the Top 12, Cee Lo in a Zoro costume, a new rule announcement and NBC’s continued punishment of Matt Lauer.
Yeah. It was a big night.
Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton each had three contestants and zero saves going into the week, with all contestants facing elimination regardless of team. Each coach dealt with the stress in their own way: Cee Lo sought from the aforementioned Zoro look (complete with hat, mask sold separately), Adam made a Mr. Rogers style costume change from a cardigan to leather, Blake sipped what has got to be straight vodka from a Starbucks cup and Christina remind herself that no matter what happens, she’s still Legendtina.
Matt Lauer made an obligatory cross-promotional appearance in The Sprint SkyBox, a place even Carson Daly can’t believe his career has landed him. On the plus side, he was there to promote NBC’s “No Shave November” and men’s health, but on the minus side — seriously — even Christina Milian got out of the Z List Box. Somewhere, Ann Curry is smiling.
On to folks with their whole careers ahead of them!
Team Cee Lo: Caroline Pennell
Now that America 100% gets that Caroline Pennell can sing slow indie tunes (and indie rock versions of Justin Bieber songs), it’s time for her to demonstrate that she can do more than one thing. Enter Caroline’s performance of Avicii’s, “Wake Me Up.” The out of sync audience clapping is more out of control than it’s ever been (which is saying a lot), but Caroline triumphs over the distraction during the fast tempo song. This confident performer owning the stage can’t be the same shy girl from the Blind Auditions, can it?
“You did wonderful,” says Cee Lo. “You’re smiling, you’re shining and you’re truly making a connection with everyone.”
“I thought you did a great job of staying in the pocket with the studio audience that has the worst rhythm ever,” says Blake, finally acknowledging the out of sync elephant in the room (Don’t worry, it won’t stop them from clapping).
Team Christina: Josh Logan
Christina’s Live Round save, Josh Logan, performs Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror.” After last week’s critiques that his ad libs were a bit much, Christina encourages Josh to strip it down to the basics for his performance. It’s vocally sound, and Josh executes the midpoint key change flawlessly. The only performance complaint is that, without the guitar he used in rehearsals, the background music gives the performance a Muzak quality.
“I definitely noticed you pulling back the reigns, and I know that’s hard to do sometimes,” Christina tells Josh of his restrained performance.
“You’re one of my favorite vocalists,” says Cee Lo, adding, “Tonight’s performance was much improved.”
Team Adam: James Wolpert
Adam’s accountant-esque singer James Wolpert performs The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside.” It’s a tall order to do well, but James is up for it. He sings it with a hint of emotional desperation, and the high notes he adds to the song really allow him to showcase his range. The audience goes nuts, and his coach is thrilled.
“Every single second of that was the most dynamic, yet controlled, blistering performance,” says Adam. “You just turned into a rock star in front of our very eyes.”
“I’ve seen your growth,” says Christina. “That’s what this experience and this show is really about.”
Team Blake: Austin Jenckes
At this crucial point of the competition, it’s time for Blake to summon the support of country music fans! He gives rocker Austin Jenckes Travis Tripp’s “It’s a Great Day To Be Alive” to do just that, acknowledging it’s a play for votes. Austin delivers another powerful performance, and hits some incredible high notes in so doing.
“You are so solid every time you get on this stage,” says Blake, before telling Austin he was telling all of his friends in Oklahoma about the contestant. Cee Lo interrupts to call Blake on that lie, and the critiques spiral from there.
Adam dives in to discussing Cee Lo’s Zoro look (it is quite a hat, after all), but does find the time to compliment Austin’s performance. “That big note really set you apart. I couldn’t believe the precision,” he says.
Team Christina: Jacquie Lee
The Voice’s youngest performer, Jacquie Lee, sings Jack White’s “Love Is Blindness.” It’s another brilliant song choice by Christina, demonstrating yet again that there is a seasoned musical force trapped in Jacquie Lee’s 16-year-old body. Christina is out of her chair cheering even before the song is over.
“When you hit that chorus, I felt the energy in the room just lift up,” Christina says. “You have this ability to take this whole competition.”
“I’m going to download that version of the song, put it on my iPad and play it the next time I go horseback riding,” Cee Lo says. What an incredibly specific compliment!
Team Blake: Ray Boudreaux
Blake’s swamp pop save, Ray Boudreax, realizes he needs to connect with America in order to earn a position in the next round. Blake is convinced a love song will do it, and assigns his man crush John Legend’s “All of Me.” The sweet pick is a huge change from his last performance, and although there are minor pitch problems, Ray’s performance has the ladies in the studio audience going crazy.
“I got wrapped up in that,” Blake says. “That right there worked in a big way.”
“Vocally, I think as far as critique, it did fall a little short in places,” says Christina. “I heard a few cracks, and pitch wise, it didn’t quite hit the mark.” Bless her honest soul!
Team Cee Lo: Kat Robichaud
That slow business last week was a little too weak for Team Cee Lo’s Krazy Kat Robichaud, but she’s back in full force this week. Kat performs AWOL Nation’s “Sail,” and man: she really performs with some real “Kat-i-tude” (copyright: Cee Lo Green). The lunges are back. She crowd surfs without missing a beat. She screams out some high notes, and, natch, falls to her knees at the end. She owns her Kat-i-tude and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Good for her.
Cee Lo is overcome with her performance, and opts to deliver his critique in character. What character, one might ask. The best guess is a male version of Kat, but who can really tell? “Life is painful for a lot of people, and a lot of the time music represents that pain,” Cee Lo says.
“I’m always entertained by you,” says Blake. “It’s almost like she’s a lion walking around a herd of antelope.”
Team Cee Lo: Jonny Gray
Team Cee Lo’s Jonny Gray performs Phil Collins’ “Another Day in Paradise,” with his acoustic guitar to back him up. Jonny sings it with such understated melancholy that it’s hard to believe the song’s genesis is the former lead singer of Genesis.
“I’m ready for you to become a big star. I’m ready for you to win this competition and write your own music,” Cee Lo says.
“There were some rhythmic issues that you were getting in sync with at the start, so it was a little wonky at the beginning,” Adam says, chastising the audience clapping.
“Then you found it, recovered, came back and brought it through.”
Team Adam: Tessanne Chin
The incredibly humble Tessanne Chin dedicates her passionate performance of Emeli Sande’s “My Kind of Love” to her husband. She makes the tough song sound effortless, and shows off the pop diva within. This woman transcends genres!
“This woman comes out here and sings in a way that is emotional and flawless at the same time,” Adam says.
“That was beautiful. There was a lot of passion in that,” Christina says. “Your voice is so amazing and so rich, it feels like you can do anything.”
Team Chrisitna: Matthew Schuler
Matthew Schuler has been creeping his way up in the competition, and this week delivers a performance that puts him one step closer to being a real frontrunner. With the intention of paying tribute to his gospel roots, Matthew sings an abridged version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (drawing on the Jeff Buckley rendition). It’s another passionate performance from the singer who brought out goosebumps singing Miley Cyrus last week.
Christina is clearly moved, and initially has trouble finding the words to praise her contestant. “The room becomes still yet you lift it,” she says. “I’m very humbled and very happy that you chose me as your coach.”
Adam, who made a commercial break costume change to a tough leather jacket, tells Matthew, “The legacy of that song is very important to me. I think it’s one of the best songs ever written. I’m happy to say that you really preserved the legacy of what that song means.”
Team Blake: Cole Vosbury
It’s almost surprising that Cole Vosbury changes gears to perform an R&B hit this week, but then again, this is the guy who auditioned with The Jeffersons theme song. His catalogue runs deep. Cole’s take on Miguel’s “Adorn” is fun, a needed change, and sounds strangely natural for the rocker. It’s arguably the best vocal performance of the night, and his powerful high notes and controlled falsettos earn him standing ovations from all four coaches.
“Every time Cole gets on the stage, I feel like he brings a gun to a knife fight,” Blake says.
“I’m very excited for you,” Cee Lo says, reminding everyone that he was the only one who picked Cole in the Blind Auditions. “I’m just so happy for you.”
Team Adam: Will Champlin
Team Adam save Will Champlin sings Imagine Dragons’ “Demons” in the coveted final performance slot. It’s a solid performance, but not quite enough to stand out over the other performers in his current underdog status. Will sings it with passion, but the technical execution really falters toward the end.
Due to time constraints, only Adam has the chance to critique his contestant. He takes the time to wax poetic about Will’s passion, which feels a little like a farewell speech in case of elimination.
Two more contestants will get sent home Tuesday night, based on America’s votes and iTunes downloads…unless The Voice introduces a whole new twist…which it DOES!
NBC has found a brilliant way to increase real-time viewers and to get a whole lot of social media traffic. Starting Tuesday, viewers will be able to save one contestant out of the bottom three by tweeting during the five minute window that follows the bottom three announcement. The “Instant Steal,” will be done on East Coast time, but West Coast and Mountain Time viewers who want their tweets to be heard, can actively follow @NBCTheVoice from 9:00 PM EST to 10:00 PM EST on Tuesdays to play along.
What a game changer, Carson! You keep everyone on their toes…and phones!
What do you think of this new instant save? Do you think it will affect who gets sent home?
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