‘The Voice’: Christina Aguilera Returns To Mentor Team Gwen Stefani In Place Of Absent Meghan Trainor
Isn’t Thanksgiving supposed to be the holiday du jour? Because it seems like it was replaced when Christmas came early Monday night. Instead of Meghan Trainor – who Carson Daly announced last week would be mentoring Team Gwen Stefani – Christina Aguilera graced The Voice Top 10 with her mentoring presence!
All due respect to Meghan Trainor and that bass she’s all about, but Xtina was a fairly major upgrade. Beyond Xtina, music legend Diana Ross came aboard to mentor Team Pharrell, and legendary producer Clive Davis gave some words of wisdom to the contestants. The ever-so-slightly less legendary Colbie Caillat and Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump rounded out the guest mentor lineup for coaches Blake Shelton and Adam Levine, respectively. As if there wasn’t enough pressure on the contestants in these live rounds.
Speaking of whom, the Top 10 contestants kicked off the show with a Rascal Flatts medley. The ladies – Anita Antoinette, Reagan James and DaNica Shirey – opened with “Bless the Broken Road,” followed by “Stand” with Craig Wayne Boyd, Luke Wade, Matt McAndrew, Chris Jamison, Damien and Ryan Sill. As Rascall Flatts medleys go, this one was tops.
Enough teamwork, though: time to compete. Here’s how the Top 10 performances went down:
Team Adam: Matt McAndrew
Matt McAndrew takes Coldplay’s “Fix You,” and turns it into a stadium rock concert performance. Adam’s indie rocker runs through the audience, jumping impressively and slapping a whole lot of fives. His beautiful tone gets a little shaky after all of that movement, but by and large he wins over the audience and the coaches.
“You have the drama, you have the range, and you have everything,” says Blake. “You have a great stage presence.”
“You really can do everything, but you do it in such a way that is so humble,” says his coach. “You did Coldplay proud tonight.”
Team Adam: Damien
It’s still mildly irksome there is still a Voice finalist who isn’t using his last name, so he’s about to have one assigned in title form. Damien the Emotional is up next for Team Adam, and sings Stevie Wonder’s “You and I.” Keeping true to his namesake, his performance is over the top emotional, and borders on operatic at times. It earns standing ovations from the coaches, who really love the schmaltz.
“Your parents must be so happy,” says Pharrell.
“I felt the entire audience get onboard with you in this performance,” says Adam. “I’m so proud of you.”
Team Adam: Chris Jamison
Adam finishes his team’s performance with pop singer Chris Jamison. Chris, who was in the top last week after his coach save the week prior, sings Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.” It’s a song that requires a lot of swagger, and Chris is actually reaching a swagger level to do it.
The audience of screaming ladies makes it nearly impossible for the coaches to give their critiques, or, more accurately, uniform praise.
“I thought I knew the peak of what he could do last week, but here you go with this other thing,” says Pharrell. “You took everybody even higher this time.”
“What I love about the team that I love to have is the guys that are unafraid to do something different,” says Adam. “It’s not something we’ve ever seen on the show, and that, to me, is awesome.”
Team Gwen: Anita Antoinette
Gwen opts to keep Anita Antoinette going down the reggae path, and adds reggae beat to Passenger’s “Let Her Go.” After some advice on singing with a smile and throwing in runs from Christina, Anita gives it her all. It’s not bad, but it’s just an unusual style for the song, and the upbeat performance doesn’t quite fit the lyrics.
“Congratulations on realizing that the way to shine is to just have fun,” says Pharrell.
“You really took over that song,” says Gwen, who credits part of her energy to wearing flat boots instead of heels.
Team Gwen: Ryan Sill
Ryan Sill has found his calling — or, perhaps more accurately, Gwen Stefani has found it for him. Declaring him a rocker, Gwen assigns Ryan “Starlight” by Muse. Both she and Xtina are all about Ryan, and think he could break that Voice glass ceiling.
“Gwen can you please take it home this year? Like, get a female to win it,” says Xtina, in a show of sisterhood solidarity.
Ryan isn’t exactly the Second Coming, but his performance is leaps and bounds better than last week’s nightmare. He should never, ever, ever wear gold lamé again, though, no matter how much pressure his fashion forward coach puts on.
“It’s been interesting to watch your journey,” says Pharrell. “I personally think that out of everyone on the show, you’re seriously most improved.”
“You’re blossoming into this artist before our eyes,” says Gwen. “You killed it, and it was beautiful.”
Team Gwen: Taylor John Williams
Christina should maybe muster one of her withering stares when Taylor John Williams unveils his creative vision for The Beatles’ “Come Together.” He gives every verse its own character, which is as crazy as it sounds. Though his Karate Kid headband provides light amusement, it doesn’t distract from some particularly painful verses.
“It’s just nice to see the beastly dude come out,” says Adam. “I just loved you coming out here and having fun, and being irreverent, and just moving around a lot.”
“If I was 15 in high school right now, it would be all over my locker. You would be everywhere,” says Gwen.
Team Blake: Reagan James
Before Regan James rehearses her actual performance piece, she does a little impromptu duet with mentor Colbie Caillat. The two sing Colbie Caillat’s “Try” before Reagan switches gears completely to perform Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy.” The coaches will emphasize how hard the song was (she performs every single part ), but problematically, it just sounds hard. Reagan is out of breath throughout, and she could really use a duet partner here.
“It takes so much commitment to get to the end of that song, because you’re doing everything,” says Adam. “I think this was your best performance so far.”
“You were doing two people’s job in one performance there,” says her coach. “Easily your best performance in your journey.”
Team Blake: Craig Wayne Boyd
“The only difference between Craig and me is that I got a lucky break along the way,” says Blake of country performer Craig Wayne Boyd. It’s a rare humble moment from the coach, who seems to have bonded with CWB throughout the competition.
Craig sings Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line,” but changes it into a ballad. It’s beautiful, albeit a completely different song.
“There’s nothing like coming across an artist who knows who they are and is not afraid to represent that,” says Pharrell.
“That was magic,” says Blake. “You are finally getting your moment, and you deserve it.”
Team Pharrell: Luke Wade
Luke Wade is apparently not going to live down last week’s botched song entry any time soon. Even mentor Diana Ross knows about it! The diva makes him feel better, though, confessing, “I always sing the wrong lyric on a couple of songs.”
Pharrell assigns Luke his second Otis Redding song of the competition. The producer arranges “Try a Little Tenderness” perfectly, folding in some of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Otis” beats as the song builds.
“I felt like Jay Z! I wanted to come in on that,” says Carson Daly after the performance. This Thanksgiving, let’s all be thankful that he did not follow that impulse.
“Pharrell, that was really amazing,” says Gwen. She eventually praises Luke’s stage presence, saying “It was very evolved from your start of the show, and it’s really cool to watch that.”
“You came right out here and you actually exceeded my expectations,” says his coach. “All I can say is job well done, young man.”
Team Pharrell: DaNica Shirey
DaNica Shirey knows the right folks in Hollywood to cozy up to. When Clive Davis visits the contestants, she tells him that she wrote an 11th grade paper on him (produce an original copy or it didn’t happen), and even impresses him by singing a few bars of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” (her featured song of the week). Top that off with the hug that DaNica gets from Diana Ross, and she’s having quite the week.
To continue her best week ever, DaNica performs “I Have Nothing” flawlessly. Seriously: someone call R.L. Stine, because DaNica Shirey just gave everyone goose bumps.
“Can you do it again?” Gwen asks. “I want you to mess up, but you don’t.”
“Every week you just continue to ascend and ascend and ascend, and I’m so happy for you,” says Pharrell.
Any guesses as to who’s making it to the next round?
The results are announced tonight, but before the blank spaces of the Top 8 are revealed, Taylor Swift returns for a live performance!