‘The Voice’: Shalyah Fearing Steals The Night With Beyoncé’s “Listen”
It’s interesting to see how each contestant on The Voice interprets the “stripped down” theme of the Live Playoffs. For some, this means — ya know — a stripped-down performance with minimal instrumental accompaniment. For others, this means, “What are you going to do, Carson Daly, kick me off the show? CUE THE STROBE LIGHTS AND SYNTHESIZERS!”
There was a little bit of each on the second night of the Live Playoffs, during which members of Teams Adam Levine and Pharrell Williams performed. As usual, there were minimal critiques from Adam, Pharrell, and Blake Shelton, and only the hint of a backhanded compliment from Christina Aguilera. Perhaps things will get more vicious as the field is narrowed.
Until then, these twelve contestants duked it out for six spots, which will be announced tonight, along with the winners from Teams Blake and Christina.
Team Adam: Laith Al Saadi
Adam’s last remaining classic rock singer, Laith Al-Saadi, gives a bluesy performance of Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help From My Friends.” The song lets him showcase both his guitar skills and his monster, growly range. It’s a critical success among the coaches.
“It was a cool thing to see from you to play the guitar the way you were and to embellish on that moment,” says Christina “I saw you let loose a little bit more tonight.”
“Something happens when someone puts on a really amazing performance in this room. The room lights up,” says Adam. “I’m just happy that Laith, you got to light it up in a different way.”
Team Adam: Owen Danoff
If you want to stand out on The Voice as a folk singer, you really have to be a Sawyer Fredericks-style unicorn. Folk rocker Owen Danoff doesn’t quite reach unicorn level with his performance of Family Of The Year’s “Hero.” Though it’s virtually mistake-free, there’s nothing terribly unique about it that stands out as Top 12 worthy.
“You made that seem like your song,” says Blake. “To connect with a cover like that is just rare.”
“When someone can make a song feel like it’s theirs, to me that’s the only real mark of a good singer,” says Adam. “I don’t think that there’s anyone on this show that’s as good at that as you.”
Team Adam: Shalyah Fearing
It’s time for Shalyah Fearing to bring the house down, yet again. The Team Adam by way of Team Pharrell by way of Team Christina teen stole the show last week with her performance of Martina McBride’s “A Broken Wing,” and does it again this week with Beyoncé’s “Listen” from Dreamgirls. It’s powerful, it’s emotional and it has the crowd cheering through most of the coach’s remarks.
“All of a sudden you just became the freakin’ frontrunner,” says the always eloquent Blake.
“You have incredible ability, but even more important than that is every single step of the way in this performance everyone in the room felt like you were telling us the truth,” says Adam.
Team Adam: Caroline Burns
Team Adam’s female folk singer, Caroline Burns, doesn’t quite blow the roof off of the building like Shalyah Fearing, but her nuanced, ethereal performance of Kodaline’s “All I Want” still earns high marks. It’s a good song choice for this point in the competition.
“Caroline’s one of my favorites of the season,” says Blake. “Your talent just pours out of you.”
The performance leaves Adam wanting more. “You were fantastic,” he says. “The next thing you do I think is going to be truly explosive.”
Team Adam: Brian Nhira
You gotta love that soulful singer Brian Nhira shot for the moon when he chose Sia’s “Alive” for his Live Playoff choice. However, he doesn’t quite hit it, runs out of breath during the verses and falls flat on most of the chorus’ critical high notes. The coaches don’t seem to notice, but it’s likely that the voting audience will.
“Those high notes are so high, and you stay in key the whole time,” says Pharrell. “I don’t understand how you do it.”
“I call you ‘game time,’ because I don’t have to worry,” says Adam. “You will never, in your life, ever have to singer a harder song again.”
Team Adam Comeback Artist: Nate Butler
Adam calls back one of his own Knockout losses for his comeback artist. Nate Butler performs Hall & Oates’ “Sara Smile,” and despite a few big notes at the end, it’s unmemorable overall.
“Just when you think you’ve heard everything from you, you throw in one of those runs,” says Blake.
“The subtleties and nuance to what you do is so awesome and so nuanced,” says Adam.
Team Pharrell: Emily Keener
Pharrell’s 17-year-old singer Emily Keener goes the classic route with Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years.” She actually interprets the stripped-down theme correctly, and starts with just her own keyboard and some audience swaying arms as accompaniments. It’s flawlessly executed.
“That was so beautiful, Emily. I especially loved the verses,” says Christina. “You sang so clearly, and it was so simple yet so gorgeous.”
“I am so lucky to have a 17-year-old anomaly on my team,” says Pharrell, who adds, “Vote for this amazing unicorn of a singer.”
Team Pharrell: Moushumi
Former medical student Moushumi sticks with what she knows, and gives a breathy performance of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself.” It doesn’t do much to build on the original, and it drags. It will be shocking if this unremarkable performance gets her to the next round.
“I love what you did with it,” says Christina. “It’s got a cool dark twist to it.”
“Clearly, Moushumi, this is something that you’re supposed to be doing,” says Pharrell. “Let’s just keep going.”
Team Pharrell: Lacy Mandigo
Lacy Mandigo has done some team hopping in her tenure on The Voice. She started on Team Christina, moved on to Team Blake and finally landed with Pharrell after a Knockout Round steal. Lacy sings Pat Benatar’s “Love Is A Battlefield,” and despite the effort she throws into her many “Whoa-hoa-hoa-hoa-hoas,” her energetic performance falls short vocally.
“This monster comes out of her when she starts to sing,” says Blake, who adds the sentiment he always adds about Lacy, “There’s something special about you.”
“What you just did demonstrated that you were never meant to go home,” says Pharrell. “You really let go.”
Team Pharrell: Caity Peters
Team Pharrell’s indie pop singer Caity Peters takes a detour from her typical ballad route, and sings Adele’s upbeat “I’ll Be Waiting.” She gets out of breath during the fast-moving verses of the challenging song, and the performance, overall, doesn’t go so well for her.
“That was awesome. I was so happy to see that,“ says Christina. “You do her very well, and tonight I saw Caity.”
“You really released your spirit and you let everybody know who you are and what you want to do,” says Pharrell.
Team Pharrell: Hannah Huston
Pharrell’s pre-school teaching chanteuse has the coveted final slot of the evening, and maximizes it to the fullest singing Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way.” Unlike Kata Hay’s Aretha Franklin performance on Monday, Hannah knows how to build, and waits until she’s ramped it up to unleash her impressive, growling voice.
‘There’s something that you exude, and it’s like a combination of frustration and desperation,” says Blake. “It’s easy to get caught up in your performances.”
“You are super colorful when you sing,” says Pharrell. “You steal all the hearts.”
Team Pharrell Comeback Artist: Daniel Passino
When Daniel Passino left the Knockout Round in tears, little did he know that Pharrell would bring him back. Little did the former Team Christina member (slash anyone) even know that bringing someone back was even in the rules, really, but anything’s possible in the wonderful world of reality television. Daniel’s performance of Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” is punctuated with sweet falsettos, and gives him a real chance of making a real comeback.
“The talent level is so good that that guy is a comeback artist,” says Blake. “You just put yourself right back in the mix again.”
“The energy and the passion of being back in the building and on this show, everybody could see it,” says Pharrell. “You just wrote your future,” he adds before getting the audience to yell a “Damn, Daniel!”
Despite the many rave reviews over the past few nights, only half of these contestants will move on tonight. Two from each team will be voted through by the audience, one from each team will get a coach’s steal, and the remaining three from each team will fade into immediate obscurity.
If that seems like too much truth for a Wednesday morning, just wait until Carson drops 12 “You’ve been eliminated” truth bombs tonight. Get ready for a bloodbath!