‘The Voice’: Michelle Obama And Jill Biden Visit The Show
Last night was a big one for Carson Daly. Although he typically spends his Monday’s welcoming the likes of former Voice contestants to the stage and trying to keep Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Pharrell Williams on schedule, on Monday he really upped the cache by welcoming First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Jill Biden. Retire now, Daly; that’s as good as it’s going to get.
Michelle Obama and Jill Biden were on hand to thank the military families in the audience as part of Military Appreciation month. As a secondary duty, they also introduced the Top 10’s performance of Dierks Bentley’s “Home.” The Patriot Brass Ensemble joined Laith Al Saadi, Adam Wakefield, Mary Sarah, Hannah Huston, Paxton Ingram, Bryan Bautista, Nick Hagelin, Alisan Porter, Shalyah Fearing and Daniel Passino for the song.
…and that’s where the teamwork ended. The contestants spent the rest of the show clawing their way to the top. Here’s how they fared:
Team Pharrell: Daniel Passino
Daniel Passino has had a rough week. He was in the bottom two last Tuesday (narrowly defeating Owen Danoff for the Instant Save), and — even more devastating — he discovered the comment section on the internet. The week continues going downhill with his pitchy performance of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing.” He gives it huge effort, but just misses the mark, and squeaks his way to the finish. He will want to brush up his Instant Save song…and probably avoid any comment sections for the duration (good advice for anyone, really).
“You just put your heart and soul and laid it all out there on the table,” says Christina. “Certain technical difficulties were overshadowed by your passion.”
“I definitely heard pitch issues,” says Pharrell. “In the middle that very big note, it came in under, but you fell to your knees and you stuck it through and you pushed until you got it to where it needed to be.”
The writing is on the wall when Pharrell does not ask the audience to chant, “Damn Daniel,” as he has for the past three weeks.
Team Pharrell: Hannah Huston
Looking like she will be Pharrell’s best bet at a finalist, Hannah Huston performs Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep.” Hannah has been a bit of a slow burn, but her performance is consistent. She hedges her bets on the big notes in the chorus, running her way up to them instead of sticking them on the mark.
“The sliding up into the first note of the chorus made me a little crazy,” says Adam. “Nintey-nine percent amazing, and that was the one tiny thing.”
“That was a thousand percent amazing,” counters Pharrell, who loves how Hannah’s hands move to match her singing (whatever does it for you). “America, vote this amazing girl through.”
Team Adam: Shalyah Fearing
Causing the, “Oh s#**, Mother’s Day is on Sunday!” moment of the night, Shalyah Fearing dedicates her performance to her mom as a Mother’s Day tribute. She sings Emeli Sandé’s “My Kind Of Love,” and is on-point. This girl exudes passion and has the vocal chops to back it up.
“I love you going back to that type of performance,” says Blake. “There was nothing smooth about that. It was kind of wild — I think that’s where you thrive.”
“Excellent job,” says Adam. “I want to see you at 11 all the time.” He then entices the audience to vote for Shalyah, promising that if she makes it through to next week she’ll sing Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama.” Not a bad strategy!
Team Adam: Laith Al-Saadi
Laith Al-Saadi has kind of gotten his use out of The Voice. Thanks to last week’s endorsement from Pharrell, Laith’s three previously released, self-made albums are all crushing it on iTunes. Whatever happens tonight, he’s already a winner. Aiming to get even more from his Voice tenure, Laith sings B.B. King’s “The Thrill Is Gone.” He masterfully plays the guitar and belts out low, rumbling notes, but as Blake points out, it is more guitar than vocals on a show that values the latter.
“Your guitar playing, I can’t say enough about it,” says Blake. “Moving forward, that was almost fifty-fifty guitar playing and singing. Your singing is so good, let us hear it.”
“That was by far probably the best show of musicianship I’ve seen on this show,” says Adam. “The way that the voice and the musicianship work in tandem to me they’re part of what makes somebody so extraordinary.
Team Christina: Nick Hagelin
If there’s a weakest link on Team Christina, it’s Nick Hagelin. Nick is hit or miss week-to- week, and this week’s performance of Michael Jackson’s “I Can’t Help It” is a big miss. Despite the white suit, the dancing, and the theatrics it’s vocally lackluster for this point of the competition.
“Those are big shoes to fill,” says Pharrell. “I thought your performance was good, but I think what you represent means so much more to people,” he adds, referencing Nick’s comeback.
“I know people that could hear what he was doing on TV know you killed it,” says Christina. “I want to see you move around more and utilize that more.”
Team Christina: Bryan Bautista
After a rough go covering Bruno Mars last week, Bryan Bautista absolutely nails it this week. He takes on Romeo Santos and Usher’s bilingual hit, “Promise” and dazzles with a huge range and masterful control in both Spanish and English.
“You sang a Latin song. I know the Latin community is losing their minds,” says Pharrell. “The idea that you did that on this show while competing, and you showed so much of your vocal ability and your range — high to low — that was amazing.”
“You consistently come out here and do such a phenomenal job, and you showcase something different every time you come out here,” says Christina.
Team Christina: Alisan Porter
Alisan Porter can’t top the intense belting she’s shown in past weeks, so her best bet is to connect emotionally. She sings a song that is the “physical representation of the hardest part of my life” when she was struggling with addiction and lost someone close to her. It all comes together in Patty Griffin’s “Let Him Fly,” which she, as always, sings perfectly.
“The mark of someone who is an artist is someone who uses everything in their life, good and bad, and speaks through the music,” says Adam.
“I’m so proud of you for being courageous enough to show your vulnerability here on this stage tonight,” says Christina. “To pull back and pull the curtain on you and your truth, that is commendable.”
Team Blake: Paxton Ingram
Not to take away from Paxton Ingram’s vocal ability, but perhaps the best part of his performance of Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me” is when the camera catches Blake singing along awkwardly. Aside from that, Paxton’s incredibly earnest performance of a song often shouted ironically at karaoke is endearing, and covers a whole gamut of range.
“I loved how dramatic it was,” says Christina. “You definitely made it your own, and I was genuinely pleasantly surprised.”
“You are in the zone right now,” says Blake. “What you did last week, what “You are becoming this artist right before our very eyes.”
Team Blake: Mary Sarah
Mary Sarah is back with some classic country, and it really works for her. She sings Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man,” and her effortless rendition of the challenging song makes it seem as though she’s definitely sung this song several thousand times before.
“That was amazing,” says Adam. “Since the blinds I haven’t seen anything that fit quite as well as this.”
“You have no idea how you just engaged the entire country audience out there,” says Blake, who then takes it straight to a tone-deaf assessment of her appearance. “All these soldiers, these guys in here when you came out were like yee-haw,” he says before the camera pans to rows of un-enthused military members.
Team Blake: Adam Wakefield
Closing out the night is Adam Wakefield, who ups the energy level from previous performances with a rendition of “I Got A Woman” by Ray Charles. It’s not as last spot-worthy as Alisan Porter or Bryan Bautista’s performance, but it’s solid, entertaining and hits all the right notes.
“I can’t wait to hear the album you make with Big Machine. They better throw all the money at the whole company behind you,” says Pharrell of the country label that represents Voice alum Danielle Bradbery in its slew of award-winning country artists.
“You literally just blowed my brains out. Blowed my brains out,” says Blake, because one grammatical error isn’t enough. “That’s my favorite performance of the night.”
An impressive night overall. It will be a real toss-up with who makes the bottom two (or, more honestly, who joins Daniel Passino in the bottom two). DNCE and Sawyer Fredericks will perform tonight as the Top 9 are revealed!