‘The Voice’: Sawyer Fredericks Sings ‘Imagine’, Kimberly Nichole Does “House Of The Rising Sun”
Monday night saw the Top 12 contestants performing on The Voice. If it was as themed as Idol, it could have easily passed as Rock & Roll Night with covers of The Rolling Stones, Sting, Hozier, The Animals and more. As The Voice doesn’t partake in that gimmick, it was more like Coach Power Removal Night.
That’s right, contestants: Suck up to the coaches all you want, but it ain’t gonna help you no more. Starting this week, Christina Aguilera, Pharrell Williams, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton can only sway viewers with unlimited praise for their boos as their choices, saves, steals and all other methods of advancing favorite contestants are over…other than social media pleas, of course.
Mega-mentor Reba McEntire was the all-team advisor for the week, and the rest of the work was up to the contestants. Here’s how they did:
Team Blake: Hannah Kirby
Blake’s final save, blues singer Hannah Kirby, is back with another power ballad from the early ’80s. Before Hannah sings “Edge Of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks, though, she invites her mom to meet Reba McEntire. This results in either the cutest or the creepiest fan moment of the season, when Hannah’s mom screams higher than Adam Levine’s highest notes, and then asks Reba for a piece of her hair. Come on, mom — you’re embarrassing me!
Hannah’s performance includes her typical Zumba-inspired moves, but also raises the bar vocally. She earns a standing ovation from Blake and her former coach Pharrell.
“Everybody now sees the artist that we’re going to buy and support when you come out,” says Pharrell.
“You’re an amazing singer, and I think tonight that was kind of the focus for me,” says Adam.
“All the other artists for the rest of the night have to try to live up to that performance,” says Blake. “I don’t know how you could be humanly, possibly a better artist than you are now.”
Team Blake: Corey Kent White
Oklahoma represents when three Okies – Blake Shelton, Corey Kent White and Reba McEntire, come together in one room on The Voice. It likely takes all of the restraint Blake has to hold back on his deep desire to have Corey sing “Okie From Muskogee.” Instead Corey sings Jason Aldean’s “Why.” Corey keeps getting stronger, but it remains to be seen if this performance is strong enough to advance him to the Top 10.
“Really, really, really nice,” says Christina. “I can sure tell you have that girl vote going for you.”
“He’s almost there,” says Adam. “I just feel like you are on the precipice of something that is really impactful.”
“Tonight you didn’t sing perfectly, but you always deliver the lyric perfect,” says Blake. “Once we hit that moment where it all comes together at once, you’re a threat to win this show.”
Team Blake: Meghan Linsey
It was only a matter of time before Blake had his former backup singer move back into the country genre. With the country votes on the line, Blake assigns Meghan Linsey “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town. It’s a smart move, and Meghan kills it with a few well executed wails. It is by far her best performance of the competition, and the perfect time to come alive.
“Who gets this kind of shot and comes back and nails it in this way?” says her former coach, Pharrell.
“The only thing I don’t like about you is out of your control, because you’re on Blake’s team,” says Adam. “This was a great song for you.”
“I really think you just had a breakout moment,” says her coach.
Team Adam: Brian Johnson
Brian Johnson AKA Team Adam’s “emotional pop singer,” AKA the one the cried all through last week’s results, goes for another emotional jam with Sting’s “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You.” It sounds like he misses quite a few of the high notes, but the coaches don’t miss one note when it comes to singing his praises.
“I’m running out of good things to say to you,” says Blake. “Your voice is so big it distorted the microphone a little bit.”
“I heard you struggle a little bit in rehearsals. It seemed like you completely overcame that by the time you came to the stage,” says Christina.
“Singing Sting is hard for people with high voices,” says Adam. “You really did an amazing job with kind of facing a challenge that would be a challenge for any of us.”
Team Adam: Deanna Johnson
Could Christian be the new country on The Voice? Adam Levine sure seems to think so, and assigns Deanna Johnson Hillsong United’s “Oceans (Where My Feet May Fail).” Fresh off of a breakout performance last week with a hymn, Deanna slays it again with her beautiful tone and sweet falsettos on the contemporary Christian song. Praise the lord.
“Once you were projecting and I could hear you, it was a lot like last week,” says Blake, noting that the sound was spotty at the beginning of her performance. “It’s this new Deanna that has some confidence and is doing what she’s great at.”
“You’ve done it again,” says Pharrell. “I can’t believe that you were ever nervous.”
Adam just glows at his contestant’s progress. “I couldn’t be prouder,” he tells Deanna.
Team Adam: Joshua Davis
While Adam waxes on about Joshua Davis going out of his comfort zone on this next performance, the choice of Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” couldn’t fall more squarely in Joshua’s wheelhouse. Sure, he loses the guitar and all (or as Reba puts it, goes “nekkid to the world”), but it feels very similar to everything he’s brought to the table to this point.
Being that Blake admits to never having heard that song (editor’s note: Whaaaaaat?), Joshua turns to the rest of the coaches for input.
“You have to see people gradually step out of their comfort zones, try something new,” says Christina. “You kind of took me back to the movie Almost Famous for a minute.”
“I personally thought this was your best performance yet,” says Pharrell. “Your performance embodied the intention of the lyric.”
“It was perfect,” Adam agrees.
Team Pharrell: Mia Z
Teenage blues singer Mia Z delivers another impressive performance with “Miss You” by the Rolling Stones. Per Reba McEntire’s request, she enunciates her words with actual consonants, and – as always – adds impressive runs and sonar-level notes to the standard melody. Seriously: She reaches Mariah Carey (circa the ’90s) levels at the top of her range.
“I always love how inventive you are with a melody and the way you sing it, and the idea of switching to the whistle tone or the dolphin cry or whatever you call it is a great idea,” says Blake (please let #DolphinCry start trending).
“I’m always curious and interested to see what you’re bringing to the table, because Blake’s right, you’re an inventive singer,” says Christina. “It was so important that you did hit what I call the stratosphere level of your voice.” (#DolphinCry)
“I love the idea that you came out here, and you set some goals and you superseded every box,” says Pharrell. “I can’t wait to do more with you.”
Team Pharrell: Sawyer Fredericks
Let’s just assume that we’re living in a post-gender society where men can be ingénues, and give Sawyer that title (or at least come up with a new term, like mangénue). Pharrell’s young mangénue continues to impress with his performance of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” He even manages to turn a missed falsetto into an endearing hum that improves the performance, a move the coaches like even more than if he actually hit the note.
“The way he fills the room with his voices is one in a million,” says Adam.
“You make everything you do seem right,” says Blake. “You’re a champ.”
“When that note didn’t come out, I was kind of relieved,” says Pharrell. “When something doesn’t go his way, the coolest thing is to see this guy sing his way out of it.”
Team Pharrell: Koryn Hawthorne
Pharrell’s save Koryn Hawthorne wants the world to know she’s moved on from being in Pharrell’s bottom three, and picks the most obvious song possible to express that. Why be subtle when you’re a teenager, right? On-the-noseness aside, Koryn does an impressive job rearranging Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” to best suit her vocals, and really shows her personality for the first time on the show.
“It’s almost like Koryn was pissed that that had to happen,” says Blake of her bottom three placement. “Welcome to the Top 10,” he adds, prematurely.
“Every time I see you come out on this stage, you just gain a little more confidence,” say Christina. “You came out as Tina Turner.”
“I am just in such awe of how you well up that voice, and you ground yourself, and you just project,” says Pharrell. “Everybody in this room and everybody back home is with you in this performance.”
Team Christina: India Carney
A performer that actually does break out of her comfort zone is India Carney, who sings her first rock song of the season. India’s performance of Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” certainly knocks it out of the park with stage presence. Vocally, though it has its high moments and its low moments, with the lows reaching the goat range. It was nice to see her do something new, though, and hopefully her past performances are enough to advance this talented singer through.
“You just felt like you’ve been doing this for years, you’re just so comfortable on stage.” Says Pharrell.
“You have fans, and I think that’s something that right about now starts to become evident for certain people that are breaking through,” says Adam.
“I really saw a different person on that stage tonight,” says Christina. “I saw you connect with the audience in a way that I hadn’t seen yet.”
Team Christina: Rob Taylor
Team Christina’s high-singing male vocalist Rob Taylor has become a force to be reckoned with this season. His always-impressive range has finally been matched by solid control, and his stage presence in his performance of Nina Simone’s version of “I Put A Spell On You” brings it all together into one perfect package.
“Your family back home and your friends back home must be super happy and proud of you,” says Pharrell. “That was a masterful performance.”
“You definitely just pulled ahead in the race just now,” says Adam.
“That’s the type of performance that I come back to do The Voice for,” says Christina. “I saw you living up there.”
Team Christina: Kimberly Nichole
When Kimberly Nichole decides to sing “House Of The Rising Sun” by The Animals, it’s a pretty safe bet that she’s going to slay it. With the perfect mix of rock and soul, Kimberly, indeed, closes out the night on a high note. Even with coach comments truncated due to a running clock, the audience cheering says it all.
“There are no words to tell you what you’ve just done,” says Pharrell. “You can look at the charts tonight to tell you what you’ve just done.”
“I think we have to start talking about the possibility of Christina winning her first season of The Voice,” Blake declares.
“I’ve never heard that interpretation of it ever,” says Christina. “I’m going to go buy that on iTunes as soon as we wrap up.”
Carson Daly will reveal the Top 10 tonight, with the always-interesting Instant Save back to make the results exciting to the last possible moment. Who got your vote?