‘The Voice’: Sawyer Fredericks Kills It With “Trouble,” Maroon 5 Perform “Sugar”
Let it be said with minimal snark that (most of) the contestants on The Voice genuinely brought it on Monday (April 6) night. Blake Shelton and Pharrell’s teams performed on the first night of the live shows, and with few exceptions, made strong cases for why they should be voted through. They all (supposedly) performed stripped down renditions, so as not to confuse voters with such things as dramatic lighting effects and shiny stage production, though quite a bit of said production snuck its way into many performances.
Regardless of the loose interpretation of “stripped down,” the contestants excelled. Both Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine’s teams have big acts to follow when they perform tonight.
With the start of the live rounds comes the start of the superstar performances. Keeping it in the family for night one, Maroon 5 perform “Sugar.” After briefly demonstrating that he does, indeed, know how to play the guitar, Adam Levine proceeds to wear it as a bizarre accessory for the rest of the performance. If nothing else, it’s a solid case study on instruments as accessories for the young and impressionable contestants.
Team Blake: Sarah Potenza
Rocker Sarah Potenza, who now has a pizza named after her in her home state of Rhode Island, performs Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird,” because it represents her “spiritually” (slight gag). Further, she wears white leather fringe during her performance to drive that point home. Though her rocking performance is anything but stripped down, and though she wears a guitar as an accessory a la Levine for most of it, Sarah blows everyone away with her performance.
“That performance reminded me a lot of my dear friend Linda Perry who’s just so raw and just sings out and doesn’t care how it sounds or what happens,” Christiana says, comparing Sarah to her “Beautiful” songwriter.
“It was cool that the guitar part was replaced by your vocals,” says Adam. “It was a really cool, interesting take on the song.”
Blake praises his contestant for her ambitious song choice. “This was her idea, and this was her going for it and swinging for the fence.”
Team Blake: Hannah Kirby
Confident crowd pleaser Hannah Kirby gets her dance moves ready for her performance of Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move.” Hannah, to refresh, won the coaches’ hearts with her wacky dance moves during the Knockout Round, and was then stolen back by Blake from Pharrell. Hannah freely sways, jerks and shakes her way through the performance, and manages to do so while still hitting the notes. All four coaches give her a standing ovation after the energetic performance, but their praise focuses more on stage presence than vocal ability.
“To me, that is entertainment,” says Pharrell. “The way you allow your voice to control your body is awesome.”
“That’s the kind of fearlessness that you need to have,” says Adam. “The complete lack of insecurity is so refreshing.”
“It’s like Hannah is possessed by the song that she’s singing,” says Blake. “The thing I want to make sure everybody notices more than anything is just how absolutely perfect her singing is.”
Team Blake: Corey Kent White
Blake’s last remaining country singer, Corey Kent White, delivers an emotional performance of Garth Brooks’ “To Make You Feel My Love.” On one hand, it’s sweet, but on the other, it’s nothing fancy. While technically on point, Corey lacks a vocal wow factor that comes into play at this point of the competition.
“You just have this tenderness to your voice that makes every word so believable,” says Christina.
“I thought there could have been a little more of a bit of a climax toward the end,” says Adam. “I thought that could have gone a long way because it was a very simple song.”
“The mark of a great country singer is to move people with the story and your emotion and not necessarily with the things that you can do vocally,” says Blake, briefly overlooking that he is a coach on a show primarily centered on what contestants can do vocally.
Team Blake: Brooke Adee
Sixteen-year-old Brooke Adee is pushed out of her indie comfort zone when Blake assigns her Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do.” The little firecracker pinky-promises her coach that she won’t be pitchy, and focuses incredibly hard on stage to achieve this. At times, it looks as though her brain is taking the SATs on stage, and the performance is flat to the point of painful at times, but this does not stop the coaches from issuing praise.
“You had a great power to your voice and a strength I really, really liked,” says Christina. “Next time maybe I would love to see a little bit looser and taking on more emotion in your face.”
“It definitely showed range, that performance, but in the future I would love to see some of your own ad libs,” says Pharrell. “We want to know more about you.”
“You showcased what a great perfect singer you are,” says Blake. “That lower end, that bottom end that she sings with just cuts through with so much strength.”
Team Blake: Megan Linsey
Blake aims to show country singer Megan Linsey’s diverse talents when he assigns her OneRepublic’s “Love Runs Out.” She backs out of some of her notes a little too soon, and there are moments that border on yelling, but the coaches are still down with what Megan has to offer.
“That was so great,” says Christina, who is then cut off by a screaming crowd.
“I’m so glad that you were able to go back to where you wanted to be with Blake,” says Pharrell. “You are living proof that you should not give up on your dream.”
“I don’t know how you don’t end up in the Top 12 after a performance like that,” says Blake. “To show now that you can do whatever you can think of doing, that’s important.”
Team Pharrell: Caitlin Caporale
Pharrell’s pop singer Caitlin Caporale goes full Beyoncé in her song choice of “Best Thing I Never Had.” Her talent continues to stand out in the field, and the ambitious song choice enables Caitlin to show her seemingly endless range. Perhaps even more impressive, she powers through a distracting bout of unnecessary rhythmic audience clapping. The performance is almost perfect, except for a few sharp notes she overshoots toward the end of the song.
“That was blanking amazing,” says Adam, before adding the cheesy dad joke, “It doesn’t suck to be you right now.”
“Your high notes are so great and it’s so easy for you that sometimes you do go over a little bit,” says Christina. “You’re so awesome, though.”
Pharrell praises her performance, telling Caitlin, “You went inside and you embraced who you are and how good you really are and how much you really love to do what you’re doing.”
Team Pharrell: Lowell Oakley
Classic-style crooner Lowell Oakley changes his tune to pop music when he performs Nick Jonas’ “Jealous.” After his awkward Knockout Round performance that had coaches cringing with his calculated crowd work, Pharrell encourages him to just sing for himself. The result is an improved stage presence, but other than a few wildly high falsettos, the performance borders on dull.
“You got some Adam Levine type falsetto going on there,” says Blake. “I didn’t realize you had that upper falsetto.”
“I liked it a lot,” says Christina. “As the song progressed, you got better and better.”
“Isn’t it so much better when you’re performing having fun versus thinking about it?” says Pharrell. “I’m very happy for you, and I hope this felt amazing like it looked to us.”
Team Pharrell: Mia Z
Sixteen-year-old Mia Z sings the Eva Cassidy version of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Pharrell encourages her to tone down her typical ad lib-heavy takes on songs, and the stripped down approach really works. For the first time Mia’s strong voice isn’t overshadowed by a busy arrangement. It’s a breakout moment for Mia, and the coaches take notice of her (somewhat) subtle performance.
“That was awesome,” says Adam. “What’s really great about you is that it just keeps getting better.”
“If there was one person I could pick to be on my team that’s not, it would be you,” says Blake. “I think you’re the most underrated singer on the show right now.”
“What an amazing, amazing talent that I’m blessed to have on my team,” says Pharrell. “I’m very proud and confident in the fact that America’s going to love you as much as I love you.”
Team Pharrell: Koryn Hawthorne
Pharrell changes things up for his newest team member Koryn Hawthorne – a steal from Team Christina – when he assigns her the hymn “How Great Thou Art.” The 17-year-old physically shakes from nerves when she starts, but delivers an undeniable performance that brings down the house.
“You just destroyed those nerves, and overcame those nerves in front of all of us,” says Adam.
“You are obviously in amazing hands, and what a perfect song choice for you,” says former coach Christina. “The grit and the power and just the emotion that you have was spot-on.”
“I am so happy for you, and if anyone watching right now just saw what I saw, I know that you lit them up,” says Pharrell.
Team Pharrell: Sawyer Fredericks
Sixteen-year-old Sawyer Fredericks closes out the night with Ray LaMontagne’s “Trouble.” Pharrell has built upon Sawyer’s amazing natural vocal ability, and has coached him into becoming a confident performer. It’s always impressive to see the shy Sawyer’s transformation on stage, and almost jarring to hear such a rich voice coming from such a young performer.
“It’s so crazy how your soul is way older than you are, so when you’re hearing this man voice sing about this man situation from a 16-year-old kid, it doesn’t make any sense,” says Adam. “I really enjoy watching you perform.”
“It’s hard to watch Sawyer and not think that the other coaches here are screwed. You’re so good, man,” says Blake. “I don’t care what happens on this show, you’re a star.”
“I’m proud of you, and I consider you to be a super rare natural,” says Pharrell. “I’m really convinced that America and all of those young ladies out there in the world that listen to you sing will completely understand.”
Teams Adam and Christina are up tonight, and the results for all four teams are in on Wednesday. Who got your vote on night one of the Live Show?