‘The Voice’: Sawyer Fredericks Rocks With Cover Of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man”
If you haven’t had the joy of attending a high school reunion, it goes a little something like this: The class try-hard rounds everyone together, no one dresses appropriately, everyone pretends to be better friends now than they really are, there’s a whole “will they, won’t they?” saga with the former class couple, everyone tries to upstage one another with how good life is going, and the most popular girl is way too cool to show up.
Such it was with The Voice reunion, where Carson Daly wrangled the crew, outfits ranged from Cee Lo’s Western-shirt-meets-track-pants combo to Adam Levine’s suit, Blake Shelton and Cee Lo were besties, Pharrell and Gwen Stefani were in lovefest mode, Christina Aguilera unnecessarily demonstrated her flawless vocals in front of Gwen and Shakira couldn’t make it.
Shakira did take 30 seconds to record a video message from her balcony in Barcelona, though. Reminder: Shakira’s life is better than yours. The high school reunion and Voice reunion similarities abruptly end, though, with performances by Blake Shelton, Matt McAndrew, and the Top 8 Voice contestants.
The Top 8 do another medley to start the show. Sawyer Fredericks, Joshua Davis and Corey Kent White begin with Tim Bergling’s “Hey Brother,” followed by Hannah Kirby, Kimberly Nichole, Meghan Linsey, India Carney and Koryn Hawthorne singing Avicii and Aloe Blacc’s “Wake Me Up.” The unofficial Top 8 makeovers are in full effect for all parties involved.
Blake Shelton performs “Sangria,” his third single from Bringing Back The Sunshine. He must have waited until post-performance to load his Starbucks with whiskey, because he makes all of his cues and everything! As a bonus surprise, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it back up vocals appearance from Season 2 contestant Gwen Sebastian. Remember her? No? Moving on…
Season 7 runner up Matt McAndrew sings his new single, “Counting On Love” accompanied by Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine. (Thanks for hooking that up, Coach Adam.) Matt shows more of his rock side than he did with his first ballad single, “Wasted Love.” After the performance, he heads back to whatever storage closet NBC (sort of) cleared out to store former Voice contestants until they’re called on for a NBC synergy moment again.
Now that the contestants have caught a glimpse at their futures, it’s time to compete!
Team Blake: Hannah Kirby
“Cee Lo, where’s your cat?’ Hannah Kirby exclaims upon meeting her new advisor, asking the question on everyone’s minds. Cee Lo has no solid explanation as to why Purrrfect or Lady Bird couldn’t make it, but (of course) just adores the eccentric contestant.
Hannah sings Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome).” She starts off a little tentatively, but it gets better by the time the ’80s-themed dancing children’s choir comes into the picture.
“You hit all the high notes. Maybe next time if you want to go explore your lower end, develop that more to be a little more powerful,” says Christina.
“You sang that song perfect,” says Blake. “You’ve become one of my all time favorite artists that I’ve had a chance to work with.”
Team Blake: Meghan Linsey
Meghan Linsey puts a lot of soul into her performance of George Harrison’s “Something,” a song she once performed at The Apollo. Like most of the contestant tonight, she executes strongly and leaves little room for criticism.
“I know that it wasn’t Blake’s choice,” says Adam of her song choice, adding, “You are bad ass.”
“Your singing just gets better with each week that goes by” says Blake. “After this performance, I’m absolutely positive in saying I expect to see you in the finale.”
Team Blake: Corey Kent White
Remember that one time when Cee Lo and Zac Brown recorded a track together? Even if the seven-plus minutes of “We’re Going To Make This Day” from the 2010 Pass The Jar live album don’t still live in the collective consciousness, Cee Lo still thinks of Zac Brown as a friend, and loves that Corey Kent White sang “Chicken Fried” in his Blind Audition.
Corey strays from country, though, in his Top 8 performance, singing Bad English’s “When I See You Smile.” It’s good, but it will take the country voters coming out to move him along to the Top 6.
“I wanted to hear that explosion earlier,” says Adam, who immediately qualifies it with, “But that’s just me being selfish. And stupid. And I’m sorry” — because god forbid a Voice coach offer criticism.
Blake, however, thought there was just enough explosion. “Not only is that your best performance of the season, that is the moment that every artist prays for on the show,” he says, calling it a breakout moment.
Team Adam: Joshua Davis
Adam’s one remaining contestant, Joshua Davis, benefits from the wisdom of two Voice champion coaches. Usher gives him the type of pep talk that only Usher can give (vague, but still oddly inspirational), and Adam basically gives him the Last Man Standing guilt trip.
Joshua sings a stripped down version of Sting’s “Fields Of Gold,” and it is (Voice math) about a zillion percent better than last week’s “Hold Back The River” performance.
“It’s so refreshing to see you get back to what you’re best at,” says Blake. “This tonight proves why you deserve to still be here.”
“I just love the fact that we know and you knew that you went out there and did something that was really distinctively very different,” says Adam.
Team Christina: Kimberly Nichole
It’s hard not to be skeptical when Kimberly Nichole chooses Radiohead’s “Creep” for her Top 8 performance. More than one Voice contestant has covered “Creep” – each of whom has sounded like a watered-down version of Thom Yorke. In preparation, Christina brings Kimberly to tears with an impromptu demonstration, while Gwen Stefani’s main contribution is recommending that Kimberly wear chiffon and loose draping layers. Instead, Kimberly wears taffeta and a metallic corset. #SorryGwen
Kimberly’s classic jazz approach to the song is awesome, and does not fall in the Watered-Down Thom Yorke trap. It is entrancing, and will be hard to top. At the very least, it should be viewed as the unofficial moratorium for “Creep” covers on The Voice.
“Really powerful and very dramatic and super amazing,” says Adam.
“You have to know that was crazy. I am in awe,” says Christina. “You are an artist.”
Team Christina: India Carney
When challenged by Gwen Stefani to describe the type of singer she wants to be, India Carney replies, “I do know I want to make an album kind of like Adele songs. Kind of like Christina’s done.” Oh, so like a successful singer? Adding no clarity to her professional identity, India sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Though she’s all over the place regarding which direction she’s headed, she sounds beautiful and hits each note precisely.
“You sounded more than beautiful. That had magic in it,” says Blake. “I definitely see you moving on to the next week after something like that.”
“I was taken on that journey, and we all need a place to embrace our dreams from,” says Christina, before waxing on poetically about the song. “It was gorgeous.”
Team Pharrell: Sawyer Fredericks
Crowd favorite Sawyer Fredericks adds to his Adorable Factor when he gets totally star struck meeting Gwen Stefani. It’s the first time he seems like a 16-year-old boy, instead of an incarnation of Ray LaMontagne. Sawyer completely sheds his fan boy, though for his performance of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man.” As always, he impresses both the coaches and the audience.
“You cannot teach somebody what you have, which is just the ability to translate any song into something powerful,” says Adam.
“Vote for him if you love folk music, if you love CCR, if you love Ray LaMontagne, if you love anything in this genre,” urges Pharrell.
Team Pharrell: Koryn Hawthorne
Closing out the night is Koryn Hawthorne, who has made her own arrangement of “Girl On Fire” by Alicia Keys. “Her own arrangement” basically means she’s slowed it down a bit. Despite no shocking differences, it’s a flawless performance of a tough song.
“I see this grown woman singing this song,” says Adam. “The evolution that you’ve made, above all the other artists on the show, has been the biggest leap.”
“I think this whole entire room and everybody across the country is inspired,” says Pharrell.
Talk about a tight race! The Top 6 results are in on tonight’s show, which also features performances by Jason Derulo and Rozzi Crane. Any guesses as to who makes the cut? Let us know below!