All the telltale signs have emerged that the end (of The Voice) is near. One coach is purely a figurehead in a red chair (still love you, Cee Lo). Christina Aguilera is pulling out her fiercest ensembles. Adam Levine and Blake Shelton are going full force to woo votes with dapper suits and redneck charm, respectively. When it comes to the contestants, only one will be eliminated this week, and each must perform multiple songs per episode.
Yes, the end is near. In hopes of making it one step closer to that end, the contestants each performed two songs on Monday night: one song of their choosing dedicated to a special someone, and one song picked by their coach. You be the judge of who made the best song choices, who had the best performances and, of course, who’s dedications were thinly veiled manipulations to win more votes.
Team Blake: Cole Vosbury
Coach pick: Blake makes a more upbeat choice for Cole Vosbury than last week’s Vince Gill number, with Hall & Oates‘ “Rich Girl.” His spot-on performance, not to mention his competitively standout facial hair, is enough to kick off a Hall, Oates and Vosbury tour.
“Your such a pro,” says Blake. “You could record that and put it for sale right now on iTunes right now as it is.”
“You just have such an incredibly great voice,” says Adam. “I love listening to you every time that you’re up here.”
Dedication: Cole dedicates James Morrison’s “Better Man” to his first love. His voice is as solid as ever, and the Edison lightbulb-adorned stage is enough to make even the most beard-averse lady give Cole a second glance. Whoever his mystery first love may be is certainly swooning somewhere, and perhaps even cursing the fact that it didn’t work out between them.
“You’re showing dimension,” says Blake. “You’re showing that you can do it all.”
“It’s sweeter to see you grow,” says Cee Lo of his former contestant. “It reminds me that my ears, my eyes and my heart work.”
Christina is unmoved. “You have to be careful that you don’t get too raspy,” she says. “It sounds like you’ve been singing a lot.”
Team Adam: Tessanne Chin
Coach Pick: Adam selects Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” for his Jamaica native, Tessanne Chin. She sings the anthem with a great deal of passion, and earns a rousing applause from both the coaches and the crowd.
“You carry that flag and to do it in such an unbelievable way,” says her coach. “I was solely immersed in the song.”
Christina, not a native of Jamaica, talks about how the song brings her back to a Jamaican vacation during which she rode a horse on the beach (yes, seriously). “I got lost in it too,” she says.
Dedication: Tessanne dedicates Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally,” to her parents, explaining that after their divorce, they still brought unconditional love to her family (In other news, Tessanne is practically reaching Jennifer Lawrence levels of best friend-ability). The power ballad, a smart contrast against “Redemption Song,” is flawless in every way. Tessanne manages to sing a Katy Perry song live better than Miss Perry herself.
“If it doesn’t show range to come out here and do a Katy Perry song and ‘Redemption Song’ by Bob Marley, I don’t know what range is.” says Adam. “Your ability is so crazy off the charts.”
“You are a world class vocalist, and that’s what I think people should talk about,” says Blake.
Team Adam: Will Champlin
Coach Choice: Having survived to see another round, Will Champlin performs Avicii’s “Hey Brother,” a pick that Adam views as a “weird” mix of country, electronic, pop and rock. He has some issues with a few of the highest notes, but it’s entertaining, and the banjo is a nice bonus.
“That’s the weirdest song,” says Adam. “You did this thing that you always do, which is figure it out like I knew you would.”
“Banjos are cool,” Blake adds, helpfully.
Dedication: Will starts off playing the piano on his performance of Sam Cook’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” It’s a beautiful, gritty performance that he dedicates to his wife and his daughter in the audience. He again has issues with a few of the highest notes, which are at the top of his range in this challenging number.
“This dude can play,” says Adam of Will’s piano skills. “You just have the courage to go out there and sing one of the all time classics.”
“You definitely got soul, and more importantly, you have heart,” says Cee Lo. “Sometimes you get a little ahead of yourself, but you get back on track.”
Team Adam: James Wolpert
Coach Pick: Someone dug through his middle school mixtapes to pick James Wolpert’s next song, and that someone is Adam. Assigning Meat Loaf’s “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Wont’ Do That),” Adam advises him, “You can’t really overdo this.” It is such a big performance, that the minor breathlessness that pops up can be ignored. Here’s what’s more: there’s a legitimate excuse for that issue with his nearly perfect performance.
“James is sick,” says Adam. “Considering the fact that I know this wasn’t you, physically health wise, at 100 percent, I think you did an amazing job.”
“They save the best for last, and this is just an impressive performance,” says Cee Lo.
Dedication: James dedicates his performance of “I Fell in Love With A Girl” by the White Stripes to his dad. While the acoustic performance is fun and energetic, it doesn’t highlight his typically powerful vocals (but for his powerful vocals, the proof is in the Meat Loaf).
“I saw you hesitate in the middle, and mess up a little bit,” says Adam. “It’s not perfect; nothing is.”
“I didn’t realize there was a mess up in the middle,” counters Blake. “I thought your pitch and everything was very good.”
Team Christina: Matthew Schuler
Coach Pick: Get ready to slowdance on this next one! Diverging from Matthew Schuler’s typically contemporary song choices, Christina selects Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman.” His performance, complete with a haze-covered stage, is well done, but it’s a song that has been overdone to the extreme.
“I have great ideas if we just hang in there,” says Christina.
“That was as good as I’ve ever heard you sing,” Blake tells Matthew.
Dedication: Getting back on the contemporary path, Matthew dedicates “Story Of My Life” to his family. Because if there’s anything that parents love, it’s One Direction. His vocals are on-point, though adding both green lasers and a backup choir to the production is a lot. (Lasers or choirs on their own? All good. Put them together? It’s a battle of the early ’90s music video staples.)
“You always have this way of truly making it your own,” says Christina. “When the choir came out with you, it truly became something special.”
“You can tread any ground you want to,” says Adam, noting the contrast of Matthew’s two performances.
Team Christina: Jacquie Lee
Coach Pick: Dead-set to make her smiling 16 year old the embodiment of a heartbroken, soul singing grown up, Christina assigns Jacquie Lee Janis Joplin’s “Cry Baby.” Despite the fact that she admits to not yet experiencing love, Jacquie comes in big with the opening note and continues to fake a broken heart damn well throughout. In her own version of a drop mic, she leaves the carnage of the microphone stand lying on the stage, which Christina takes pains to point out.
“I see so much of myself in you,” Christina says, after joining her contestant on stage. “I’m so proud of you.”
“It’s like you’re a medium of some sort where a soul passes through,” says Blake. Just kidding (a little Voice humor for you): only Cee Lo spouts out such odd praise.
Dedication: There’s always one contestant who goes the teacher’s pet route on dedication night. This year, Jacquie Lee is that contestant. Not only does she dedicate her performance to her coach, but she sings a song by Xtina. Christina is enamored by Jacquie’s performance of “The Voice Within,” as it combines her perennial favorite person (herself) and her current favorite person (Jacquie). Corny dedication aside, Jacquie nails it. She has her coach on her feet singing, and even saluting her after the performance.
“It’s a very special song for me to hear you sing that because I do find so many similarities in you, not only as a vocalist, but as a person,” says Christina. “I just see so many things for you in the future.”
No one dares to interrupt Christina’s meandering ode to “The Voice Within,” that follows, which leaves no time for further coach comment.
After a night of solid performances by all, it’s fortunate that only one of them has to go home on Tuesday night. Speaking of Tuesday night: get ready for Kelly Clarkson’s performance! Anytime the original Idol graces The Voice stage, it can only mean good things. Except for FOX.
Get an eyeful of even more pop music coverage, from artist interviews to exclusive performances, on Idolator’s YouTube channel.