‘The Voice’: Blake Shelton & Ashley Monroe Do “Lonely Tonight,” Chris Jamison Kills Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man”
Adam Levine was sitting pretty on The Voice Monday night, and not just because he’s actually pretty: the veteran coach boasted a whopping three out of five semi-finalists! Adam certainly had an edge over Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton, each with only one contestant to speak of, and definitely over Pharrell, whose only shot at a Voice trophy is tomorrow night’s Top 12 return twist (or Ebay).
Before the Adam-centric competition night (which, yes, included a Maroon 5 cover) commenced, Blake Shelton and Ashley Monroe of The Pistol Annies performed their duet “Lonely Tonight.” It was even better than Blake’s “Just A Fool” duet with Christina Aguilera (which set a low-ish bar), and was a great way to reycle that Pinterest barn constructed for Craig Wayne Boyd last week.
But back to business. Each of the five contestants in play – Chris Jamison, Damien, Matt McAndrews, Taylor John Williams and Craig Wayne Boyd – sang two songs a coach assignment and a pick of their own. Damien got emotional. Chris Jamison got sexy. Taylor John Williams took off his hat. It was a big night.
Team Blake: Craig Wayne Boyd
Coach’s Pick: “Knowing that the guy can rock and knowing that he has deep roots in country music, I decided on ‘Workin’ Man Blues’ by Merle Haggard,” says Blake. “I can guarantee you that you’ve never heard it like this before.” Craig never stops moving across the stage, and has one of the clearest, strongest voices remaining in the competition.
“That is the kind of performance you see from someone who knows exactly who they are, and knows how to go out there and have a great time,” says Pharrell, adding “I can’t wait to see what your album sounds like.”
“You’re one of the best singers I’ve ever heard in my life,” says Blake. “If I ran across the stage like that, it would take me five minutes to catch my breath.”
Contestant’s Pick: Craig brings down the house – and has Gwen Stefani in tears – with his rendition of the hymn “Old Rugged Cross” – one that has been covered by Merle Haggard and Vince Gill, among others.
“To God be the glory,” says Pharrell, who is moved by the performance.
“You gave one of the most passionate, epic vocal performances that I’ve ever heard,” Blake raves.
Team Gwen: Taylor John Williams
Coach’s Pick: Gwen doesn’t dig too deep into strategy when assigning Taylor John Williams The Swell Season’s “Falling Slowly.” “I just wanted to do something that I knew he would love,” she says.
While he may love it, something is just off with his performance. His lower register is shaky, and the glimpses of his strong ability that come out in higher notes don’t fix what’s broken about the rest of the song. On the plus side, he doesn’t wear his hat.
“I’ve never heard so much strength and range in your voice,” says Blake.
“Whether you’re here on this show or not, you’re going to make a record,” says Gwen.
Contestant’s pick: Taylor channels his inner Taylor (Swift) when he performs “Blank Space.” Taylor (the professional) knocked it out of the park performing it last week, but Taylor (the contestant) doesn’t bode as well. His indie folk take on the song falls a bit flat, and he falls out of the pocket at times with the fast lyrics.
“I love that you’re taking these songs and kind of reworking them,” says Adam.
“You deserve so much to be moving forward,” says Gwen, adding, “You are a true artist.”
Team Adam: Damien
Coach’s Pick: “It’s probably the most emotionally vulnerable vocal that I think that he ever did,” coach Adam explains of his pick for Damien: Michael Jackson’s “She’s Out of My Life.” Coming off of the heels of Damien’s Adele cover last week, this is a gross overstatement, and it certainly won’t be the only one.
“That’s one of the most perfect performances I’ve ever heard on this stage,” Blake declares.
“This is the most coachable guy on planet earth,” Adam says. “This song was the best thing for you to do.”
Contestant’s Pick: Without any apparent irony, Damien sings Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Want To Wait.” Yes: the Dawson’s Creek theme song. He tries to make it his own with some upbeat tribal drums, but that song will always be Dawson’s. Or Pacey’s. Or Lilith Fair’s.
“What a phenomenal voice. What an incredible spirit. What a way to communicate and message that to the world,” gushes Pharrell.
“The performance, the song, everything was even better than I expected,” says Adam.
Team Adam: Matt McAndrew
Coach’s Pick: Inspired by Sons Of Anarchy, Adam assigns Matt McAndrew Ed Sheeran’s “Make It Rain.” “This is one of the greatest vocals – I think – that Matt McAndrew has ever done,” Adam says to tee up the performance. Indeed, Matt’s range pops during his performance, even more than his loud striped blazer.
“The tone in your voice gives me chills every time,” says Gwen.
“I don’t think The Voice has ever had a guy that can do as much so effortlessly and so gracefully like you can,” says Adam.
Contestant’s Pick: For his choice, Matt sings U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Although the performance is solid, there are pitchy moments that, at this point in the season, can’t be ignored…except by the coaches.
“I can tell you Bono would be so happy and so proud and so congratulatory to you for the handling of that performance,” says Pharrell, who now speaks for Bono.
“I don’t need to say anything at all, because listen to these guys,” says Adam, who lets the screaming audience cheer for him.
Team Adam: Chris Jamison
Coach’s Pick: Adam goes on the defensive for the pick he gives Chris Jamison, claiming it was mostly Chris’s choice. Right. It was Chris who elected to give free promotion to sing Maroon 5’s next single, “Sugar.” Whoever’s choice this was, Chris impresses with controlled falsettos, and the screaming audience eats it up.
“I should have had Taylor do ‘Spark The Fire,’” quips Gwen.
“You really had to fight to get here,” says Adam. “You have just continued to rise to the occasion.”
Contestant’s Pick: Chris closes out the night with “When I Was Your Man.” He pulls off the challenging Bruno Mars song with apparent ease, and just about sends the broadcast into overtime with the crowd’s ongoing reaction.
“I am sure that anyone back in Pittsburgh that saw this show, they’re still standing on their feet for you,” says Pharrell.
“Tonight was Chris Jamison’s version of that song, and everyone felt that,” says Adam.
Tomorrow night brings that big twist that Carson Daly has so diligently promoted for the past few weeks. After the Top 3 are selected from this bunch, the bottom two will compete with all of the other artists eliminated from the Top 12 to for one open spot in the finals.
(Fun game: try to name the rest of the Top 12 contestants without Internet assistance… We’ll wait… Give up?)
DaNica Shirey, Luke Wade Ryan Sill, Anita Antoinette, Jessie Pitts, Reagan James and Sugar Joans re-enter the competition Tuesday night to compete for that spot. Do any of them stand a chance against tonight’s Top 5 for a place in the Finals?