‘The Voice’: The Swon Brothers Pay Tribute To Country Legend George Jones
Based on what we’re seeing during the live rounds of The Voice, it is very likely that the apocalypse is near. Last week Al Roker appeared to promote The Today Show (Horseman 1). Then there was Wednesday’s miscount incident with the very serious auditor on stage (Horseman 2). Monday night brought the biggest doomsday sign yet: the air conditioning went out for the live show (gasp!), prompting Adam Levine to fan Carson Daly (Horseman 3), and Usher to strip down to a tank top (no Horseman there, just enjoy the view). Despite the fact that Carson could not stress enough how extreme the heat wave conditions were for the live audience, at least there’s still one more Horseman buffer before a confirmed Doomsday. Rest easy, Voice viewers.
Beyond the extreme heat and lack of Xtina Aguilera’s hand fans, the 12 finalists all competed for America’s votes on Monday night. Check out who kept their cool, and who had a meltdown.
Team Usher: Vedo Team Usher’s Vedo is impervious to the heat wave, donning a leather jacket during his high energy performance of Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You.” After some coaching from Usher’s choreographer, Aakomon Jones, Vedo takes his moves to the stage for a wildly cheering audience. The dance lesson works, and Vedo manages both the dancing and the singing without either being negatively affected. He doesn’t quite have the vocal range of MJ, but then again, who does (spoiler alert: Kris Thomas)?
“You leave your heart on stage every time you perform,” Shakira tells Vedo.
“A lot of hard work goes into being a full entertainer who sings and dances,” his coach tells him. “You did the work, I believe it’s going to pay off for you.
Team Usher: Josiah Hawley Cue the mood lighting: it’s time for handsome Josiah Hawley to take the stage.
Josiah performs an acoustic version of The Script’s “The Man That Can’t Be Moved.” He has a little trouble with falsetto during rehearsals, but corrects it by the time he hits the stage, wearing an Adam Levine-inspired white t-shirt. His performances are never as breathtaking as his cheekbones, but he improves every week.
“It feels like you found a place for your voice that it your sweet spot. You sound the best you ever have tonight,” Adam tells Josiah.
“That was my very favorite performance with Adam’s clothes and Usher’s advice,” Blake says.
“Josiah has many many different levels and we’re only beginning to see the beginning of it,” Usher says. “This is an opportunity for me to work on a young Adam.”
Team Usher: Michelle Chamuel The funny thing about Michelle Chamuel is that even though she is perhaps the most charismatic, energetic contestant this season, she swears she is an introvert. “I definitely struggle with stage fright,” she insists before going on stage and hamming it up with Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend.”
Her volume is shaky at the start, as she trails off on some of the higher notes. But as the performance continues, she lets it rip and throws in some of her signature lunges across the stage.
“That was really cool. you’ve learned how to move and sing at the same time which is so difficult,” Shakira says.
“You did something a little more fun. I just hope that America continues to vote for you, because I want to go all the way to the end with you,” her coach tells her.
Team Blake: Holly Tucker Country gal Holly Tucker performs Martina McBride‘s “A Broken Wing.” She continues to come out of her shell more each performance, and this song allowed Holly to unleash her immense voice.
“Anybody who ever doubted your talent is a freakin idiot,” Usher tells her after the performance.
Shakira, who must be studying her English-to-country dictionary intently, quotes Blake with, “Gosh dang, girl, that was awesome.”
Coach Blake, who gives Holly a standing ovation, tells her, “That is the best we’ve heard you sing so far. You made a difference tonight for Nashville.”
Team Blake: The Swon Brothers “At the end of the day, we’re country boys,” say the siblings Swon on their choice of the late George Jones’ “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?” This is certainly a different performance than the Swons delivered last week (lest we forget “Fishin’ In The Dark”). The stage is set in full tribute mode, with candles and a reel of George Jones photos running, and their harmonies are on point.
“It was a beautiful rendition of that song. You guys really delivered it,” Adam says.
“To honor the Possum tonight, and to honor country music and it’s history is a big chance. I think this is y’all’s breakout moment,” Blake raves.
Team Blake: Danielle Bradbery A star is being born. That is the message from Blake, at least, on his new-to-the-industry ingenue, Danielle Bradbery. “We are watching this happen before our very eyes,” he says of her shot to moderate and temporary stardom.
Danielle performs Carrie Underwood’s “Wasted.” She is so technically sound that it’s ridiculous, and Blake has yet to find a note she can’t hit. What Danielle lacks, however, is any real emotional connection to the song or the audience. The wholesome 16-year-old gets a pass on not being able to relate to the subject matter in “Wasted,” but she’s in need of a range in stage emotions beyond wide-eyed smile.
Her calm nerves, however, provoke the best coach compliment to date. “I never detect an ounce of nerves in you. You’re like a 16-year-old Margaret Thatcher,” Shakira says. Move over, Meryl — Danielle Bradbery is in line to star in The Iron Lady 2.
“You’re the one to beat,” says Adam, visibly nervous for his own team.
“We can sit here for months and talk about what an incredible singer you are and still not say it all,” Blake raves.
Team Shakira: Garrett Gardner You can see it in Garrett Gardner’s eyes when Shakira assigns it: he just knows that performing the Backstreet Boys‘ “I Want it That Way” is a very misguided idea. Always the team player, he really tries to rock it out to do his coach proud. The results are unfortunate.
No matter how raspy Garrett’s growl is when he belts out lyrics like, “Deep down inside of maaaaay,” it just sounds lame. Walking around the stage wearing a guitar certainly doesn’t help.
“That wasn’t my favorite choice. It was cool, I just was a little thrown by it,” Adam says.
“All in all you have to understand that constructive criticism can only make you better. It was a different version of the song and that took people by surprise, but if you want to make a long lasting impression you need to do things like that,” Usher says.
Shakira continues to cheer for her pet. “You are one of the most charismatic artists in this competition,” she tells him before encouraging everyone to download his performance.
Team Shakira: Sasha Allen Classically trained Sasha Allen performs Heart’s “Alone,” putting Shakira at two for two on assigning her contestants songs one dreads hearing in a karaoke bar. Shakira warns her not to go too “Broadway” on the performance, and urges her to keep an intimacy about it. Sasha interprets this as putting on expressions of physical pain throughout. Vocally, it’s sound, and therefore she shouldn’t be punished by the fact that she’s forced to sing a Heart song earnestly.
“It’s like every week there’s just one more reason I shouldn’t have let go of you. You’re miraculous,” Adam tells his former contestant.
“I felt like you kind of took us to church,” Usher says, leaving the audience confused as to whether to take that as a compliment or not.
“It was heavenly. She is without a doubt one of the best voices I’ve ever heard,” says Shakira, before (again) urging the iTunes downloads.
Team Shakira: Kris Thomas Kris Thomas tackles the second MJ number of the evening. He doesn’t even bother trying the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” an octave or two lower than the 10-year-old Jackson sang it, and even throws in some high runs, a la Mariah Carey’s version. There are a few shaky moments that result from these ambitious choices, but none that overshadow Kris’ talent.
“When [Michael Jackson] was 10 that was high. That is a task that you definitely rose to,” Adam says.
“You always seem to choose songs that push you to the extreme. You’re always proving yourself to people,” Blake tells Kris.
“You sound like you really want to win this competition,” Shakira tells him, before praising his performance as “sweet.”
Team Adam: Sarah Simmons Whatever the weather, Sarah Simmons is going to come draped in cloaks. She’s sold us on the Stevie Nicks voice, so at this point the clothing to match is overkill. Fashion choices be damned, though — Sarah has the vocal chops to perform in a paper bag (But, you know…don’t).
The choice of Brandi Carlile’s “The Story” combines the perfect variation of powerful yells and sweet notes. Sarah nails both, and executes flawless transitions between the two.
“Thank you for showing us the extremes of your voice,” Blake tells her.
“Your coach seems to know you very well because this song definitely suits your voice and your style,” Shakira says.
“Your one of the best singers we’ve had. I don’t think this, I know it. I’m really proud of you,” coach Adam tells her.
Team Adam: Judith Hill Hold up, Judith Hill. You’ve positioned yourself as beyond reproach in both the vocal and fashion departments, but now your challenging everything we know to be true by wearing pigtails on stage? No, girl, no. You get one pass on this due to previous good behavior, but this is not going to fly for future playoff rounds.
Judith brings in her piano skills for her rendition of James Taylor’s “You’ve Got A Friend.” It’s another soulful performance that borders on perfection.
“You can’t really dissect that. It was beautiful, it was powerful, it was everything we’ve come to expect from Judith Hill week to week,” says Blake.
“You are totally in control of your destiny at this point,” Usher tells her.
Ready with a superlative, Adam tells his superstar, “You are the most talented human being in this competition.” But didn’t you just say Danielle is the one to beat? Keep your hyperboles in line, Levine!
Team Adam: Amber Carrington Amber Carrington scores the last performance slot of the night with a song dedicated to her late mother. Amber performs “I’m Going To Love You Through It,” the second Martina McBride song of the evening, and closes out the show a strong note. She builds to soaring high notes, and delivers genuine emotion in the country ballad that so closely parallels to her mother’s battle with cancer.
“You did Martina proud, and even more than that, you did country music proud,” Blake tells her.
“Just when you think she’s given it all, there’s more,” Usher says of the emerging favorite.
“You can do anything as a singer but you keep surpassing my expectations every single week,” Adam says.
Two of the finalists will be sent home tonight, and there’s nothing their coaches can do about it! You answer to us, now, contestants (insert evil laugh here)! Tonight’s episode also brings the return of mentor Pharrell Williams — this time on stage with Robin Thicke and T.I.
What the “Blurred Lines” trio will do without their entourage of nudity remains to be seen, but someone at NBC will certainly have a trigger-happy hand over the censor button for the live show.