‘The Voice’: Amy Vachal Does Stripped-Down, Guitar Cover Of Drake’s “Hotline Bling”
After eliminating 12 contestants last week, The Voice pumps the breaks on the rejection front. Only one of the remaining 12 contestants will be sent home, and coaches Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams and Adam Levine are all out of steals to save that unlucky singer.
Sure it sounds nice to cut fewer people, but in actuality, it’s the equivalent of singling out one loser. It’s arguably the meanest thing The Voice has done, and that includes season after season of Christina Aguilera stripping away confidence from competing teams’ contestants by passive aggressively up-speaking, “Yeah, so, good try?”
Let’s just focus on the Starbucks cup being 11/12 full for the moment. Though not all of Monday night’s performances were stellar, most of them will be good enough to give it a go next week. Participation trophies for (almost) everyone!
Team Gwen: Braiden Sunshine
Gwen can change his hair and remove his glasses, but she can’t take the rock singer out of this season’s youngest contestant, Braiden Sunshine. He draws back on his roots as a 9-year-old AC/DC-singing rock band front man (yes, really) and performs Styx’s “Renegade.” It’s fun to picture him as the Doogie Howser of metal bands, but that’s the height of enjoyment over this performance.
“This kid can do anything. We’ve seen him do almost every style you can do,” says Blake, adding, “You need to do a country song.”
“Vocally you just nailed it. The last note was incredible,” says Gwen. “I just feel really proud of you that you were so brave to come out here and try to find your way, find who you are, and I think you did an amazing job tonight.”
Team Gwen: Korin Bukowski
From a one-chair turner to a Top 12 finalist, Korin Bukowski has won over coaches and the audience with her unique tone. This week, it’s time to get serious about winning, which to Gwen Stefani can only mean one thing: makeover time! After giving minimal advice to Korin about her performance of David Guetta and Sia’s “Titanium,” she
forces encourages Korin to dye her hair platinum. In fairness, it’s worked for Gwen for years.
“That’ got to be one of the hardest songs that I’ve ever heard to sing,” says Blake. “The range on it? You nailed it.”
“I feel so blessed to be part of your journey,” says Gwen, provoking eye rolls. “You did it exactly how I envisioned it to be done. So cool.”
Team Gwen: Jeffrey Austin
When Jeffrey Austin sings James Bay’s “Let It Go,” it’s further proof that his one-chair turn was a real oversight (or, rather, three real oversights). The soulful singer gives yet another stunning performance that earns raves from the coaches. And yes, Gwen got some hair dye in his newly cherry-tinted locks as well.
“You are our greatest dream on the show, to have somebody who starts off a good singer, but kind of winds up here, who is to me one of the best in the competition,” says Adam.
“How hot does he look right now with his hair dyed?” asks Gwen, always zeroed-in on what matters. “Obviously you’re going to get voted through.”
Team Adam: Amy Vachal
If Adam learned anything from Season 6 finalist-slash-Season 9 fashion consultant Christina Grimmie, it’s that a stripped-down Drake cover equals iTunes downloads. Said downloads equal votes, which is what last week’s save, Amy Vachal, desperately needs. With a little producing help from Pharrell, they come up with a cover of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” that is unique, but still could use a little bit of oomph. If she busted any Drake dance moves, it was covered by her gorgeous floor-length dress.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a more elegant and classy performance of a song about a booty call in the history of music,” says Blake, adding, “Gwen sang it to me on the Tonight Show!” At this point, the audience goes wild at the idea of Gwen serenading Blake, even if it’s for cross-promotional purposes.
“I want that version of that song in my life,” says Adam. “You should be so proud of the artistry involved in that.”
Team Adam: Shelby Brown
When will Adam Levine learn that the worst thing to say to someone who’s stuck in their head is that they are stuck in their head? He brings 17-year-old Shelby Brown to tears with this observation during rehearsals, and most certainly does not get her out of her head for her performance of Jamey Johnson’s “In Color.” Her range is incredible, but she gets noticeably ahead of the band in the middle of the song. Fortunately, these coaches love when contestants recover from mistakes.
“You are such a powerful singer,” says Blake. “There was one moment there where you got out ahead of the band there a little bit, but then you followed up with such a big note that it overcomes some of those things.”
“This is why I love you. Not only did you recover, but you recovered with one of the most powerful notes you’ve sung in your life!” says Adam.
Team Adam: Jordan Smith
Last week, Jordan Smith’s performance of Beyoncé’s “Halo” made him the top-downloaded contestant of the week. This week, he keeps the heavenly theme up, but departs from pop music to sing the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Jordan starts off a cappella, before playing the piano. He really brings it home, Jesus-style, hitting heavenly high notes, and moving Adam to come up on stage to be saved hugged.
“You had me standing up in the middle of the song,” says Pharrell. “Everybody needs to go to iTunes right now and buy this song from this guy.”
“Sometimes there’s so much about the world that can be so confusing and so sad, and then you come along and make us all feel like there’s a lot of hope,” says Adam. “Thank you.”
Team Pharrell: Mark Hood
In the past, when Pharrell has told Mark Hood to tone it down, it’s only come down from day-glo to neon. Tonight, though, Pharrell’s save actually strips down his performance of Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds” and lets his voice shine through without wild amounts of embellishments.
“I saw a different side of you tonight, just a more calmer, sensitive side,” says Gwen. “You’re so full of heart and spirit, and it just comes out of you like that.”
“I just want everybody back home that’s standing up for you to actually get on those phones and vote for you,” says Pharrell. “You deserve to be here next week.”
Team Pharrell: Madi Davis
Only Pharrell would add a reggae twist to a Jewel song and make it work…mostly. His 16-year-old contestant Madi Davis performs a reggae rendition of “Who Will Save Your Soul,” and it has such a cool vibe when she’s singing. When goes into bouts of speaking out the lyrics, though, the vibe is considerably less cool.
“Are you wearing L.A.M.B. shoes right now?” asks Gwen, again highlighting the facts of key importance. “I didn’t know you had such a bold voice. It was very beautiful.”
“Sixteen years old and you know exactly what you want to do,” says Pharrell. “I have to remind myself and remind everyone else watching that that is 16 years old standing right there.”
Team Pharrell: Evan McKeel
Not into Evan McKeel’s Top 20 performance? Neither was Evan McKeel. He acknowledges that he wasn’t comfortable on stage, and vows to turn things around with “This Is It” by Kenny Loggins. For him, this means a lot of awkward dancing, but – like your kooky aunt on a wedding reception dance floor – he truly appears to be enjoying himself.
“There was something so free about you tonight. I feel like you really showed us who you are and you just went for it in a big way,” says Gwen.
“It just goes to show you that when you stick with who you are, and you share that with the world, it lifts people,” says Pharrell. “I want America to vote you through because you deserve it.”
Team Blake: Emily Ann Roberts
Emily Ann Roberts gets on the stage with something to prove. Team Blake’s save shows a more commanding presence than in previous weeks when she belts out Patty Loveless’ “Blame It On Your Heart.” Her powerful voice finally transcends her youthful shakiness in this performance.
“You feel like you’ve graduated from The Voice, and you’re in the country world and you’re a star,” says Gwen. “I don’t know that song, but I liked that song.” Not knowing a song? Awwww! Gwen’s becoming more like Blake with every day of their relationship!
“You’ve always been a great singer since the Blind Auditions, but I feel like you are truly finding that out about yourself,” says Blake. “You’re treating this like it’s your stage, and it is every time you get on it.”
Team Blake: Barrett Barber
It doesn’t take a lot for Barrett Baber to give a song a country spin. His inflection just oozes twang into his performance of Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting.” It’s not his best performance – largely due to song choice – but it’s probably in the top 11 of the night.
“No matter what kind of vocal it is, you will just attack it,” says Adam. “That just shows how much determination and passion you have, and I just love watching it.”
“What comes out of you is real, it’s passionate, and it’s the things that make you a real artist,” says Blake. “First and foremost, you are a great singer.”
Team Blake: Zach Seabaugh
After breaking out his inner Elvis last week, Zach Seabaugh breaks into a snooze fest. He sings Little Texas’ “My Love,” and it has more flat notes than passion. He really should have doubled down on the theatrics and sang “Footloose,” which he was toying around with during rehearsals.
“That range that you have is so crazy,” says Pharrell. “This guy’s a professional, and you’re 17? That’s crazy.”
“I don’t know that I’ve ever had anybody on this show like you that I really feel like you could walk off this stage right now, out the door, get on your tour bus and be on your headlining tour,” says Blake. “You’re ready to do it.”
Based on that performance alone, Blake does have a point: It is very possible that Zach will walk off that stage and out the door tonight as the designated un-chosen one. He’ll always have his Elvis moment, at least.
The Top 11-slash-Bottom 1 will be announced later tonight. Any guesses as to which contestant will be on the chopping block?