‘The Voice’: Pink Mentors On Semi-Final

Caila Ball-Dionne | May 17, 2016 8:54 am

It’s finally crunch time, folks! After weeks of single eliminations, Monday night was suddenly the semi-finals on The Voice. Eight remaining contestants from Teams Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams and Adam Levine competed for four slots in next week’s finale, and man, did they pull out all the stops.

There were fog machines. There were lasers. There were pyrotechnics. There were roses suspended in mid air. There were more sarongs blowing in the breeze than in a Club Med commercial. There was Pink telling a contestant to clench his butt cheeks while singing.

Wait, what? Don’t worry about that last one for the time being — we’ll get to that real gem of a Pink moment later.

Each contestant performed a solo and a duet, and while the duets were mostly mediocre, the (just about) uniformly impressive solos made up for them. Here’s how the contestants fought for their slot in the finals.

Duet: Adam Wakefield and Alisan Porter

It’s not clear how the duet pairings were decided, but the match-up of Adam Wakefield and Alisan Porter is perfection. They sing Bonnie Raitt and John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery,” and excel by not trying to outdo one another.

Duet: Bryan Bautista and Mary Sarah

On the opposite end of the excellence spectrum is Bryan Bautista and Mary Sarah’s duet, during which the country singer and the soul crooner cover Ariana Grande’s “Break Free.” It’s ill advised on every level, and is deeply uncomfortable to watch and hear. It’s more cacophony than harmony, and even the lasers can’t distract from its awkwardness.

Duet: Laith Al-Saadi and Hannah Huston

Though Laith Al-Saadi and Hannah Huston’s performance of “Knock On Wood” by Eddie Floyd is better than the Ariana Grande disaster, it’s still not of their best work. It’s becoming clear that the majority of the rehearsal time this week was spent on vote-earning solos, and not time-filling duets.

Paxton Ingram and Shalyah Fearing

No expense was spared on the fog budget for Paxton Ingram and Shalyah Fearing’s duet. They sing Jessie J’s “Masterpiece,” and Paxton is the surprising standout of the two. He put some serious work into this duet, and it shows.

Team Adam: Shalyah Fearing

Performing her second Dreamgirls song of the season, Shalyah Fearing sings “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going.” It’s even better than her performance of “Listen” from earlier in the competition, and she swings for the fences with her powerful, raspy voice. It’s not technically perfect, but it doesn’t have to be. Shalyah gives it a lot of emotion to make it pure entertainment.

“You were singing for your life,” says Christina. “That song is no easy task. That is an extremely difficult song.”

“I’m always impressed by you, but I am so overjoyed that we were able to have this moment that we’ve wanted to have for weeks tonight,” says Adam. “This girl definitely deserves to be in that finale.”

Team Adam: Laith Al-Saadi

Laith Al-Saadi is up next to erase the memory of Meat Loaf with a blues rendition of Adele’s “One And Only.” That man can really make anything a blues song. It’s not his best showing (it’s hard to top “The Thrill Is Gone”), but the guitar-heavy performance earns high praise from the coaches.

You know what else it earns? Life-changing advice from Pink. “Clench your butt cheeks,” she tells him, which (apparently) helps her reach high notes. Who knew?

“That was amazing. That was beautiful singing,” says Blake. “That guitar solo worked.”

“You represent something that is so near and dear to my heart,” Adam tells Laith. “He is so different and it would be amazing for us to have someone like you.”

Clench on, Laith. Clench on.

Team Blake: Paxton Ingram

Oh, honey. It’s not Paxton Ingram’s fault that someone told him Meat Loaf was an appropriate choice for the semi-finals, but he is forced to bear the weight of the decision on national television. Paxton sings “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”, and it’s nostalgia at its worst: Shaky, awkward, and (again) Meat Loaf.

“I thought it was very theatrical,” says Pharrell. “It would be interesting to see you do those kind of big rock tunes like that because you kind of harness it really well.”

“I don’t know that I’ve ever been more proud of an artist that I’ve had a chance to work with on the show,” says Blake. “I don’t know anybody that works harder than Paxton at making this the best performance he can do.”

Team Blake: Adam Wakefield

Even though they say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, there has to be an exception for when the cover is better on every level than the original. Such flattery/one upping comes when Adam Wakefield sings Blake Shelton’s “I’m Sorry,” and just annihilates his coach’s version.

“Everybody was so taken by what you were doing that you could hear a pin drop in here,” says Adam. “They’re so moved by what you do, as I was.”

“I’m embarrassed that I ever sang that song after hearing him sing that song,” says Blake. “You have had so many big moments on this show – breakout moments – but you’ve never had a moment like that right there.

Team Blake: Mary Sarah

The semi-finals is no time to take a risk, apparently, so Mary Sarah sticks with what she does best/only: Another country song. Honestly, as long as it’s not that hot Ariana Grande mess again, it’s a step up. Mary Sarah picks a song with a high degree of difficulty, and sings Randy Travis’ (Carrie Underwood’s) “I Told You So” surrounded by sheer fabric blowing in the imaginary breeze.

“That was beautiful,” says Christina, who adds, “You’ve grown a lot.”

“That was 100 percent pure solid phenomenal country music,” says Blake. “That is your best performance.”

Team Christina: Alisan Porter

Alisan Porter is back on top with a performance of The Eagles’ “Desperado.” Surrounded by more roses than the combined zillion seasons of The Bachelor, Alisan demonstrates power, control and emotional connection. And she’s rocking long-sleeve white lace again without looking Bride of Frankenstein. Way to be!

“I always look forward to whatever it is you’re going to do from week to week,” says Blake. “It’s tough to cover something like that that everybody does but you did it and you made it your own.”

“I’m just bursting with pride and admiration for you and your talent,” Christina says of her frontrunner. “It was beautiful and epic.”

Team Christina: Bryan Bautista

Adam Wakefield isn’t the only one singing a coach song: Bryan Bautista takes on “Hurt,” with slightly bigger shoes to fill. The visibly emotional Bryan explains that he is singing the song about his estranged father, but he keeps it together while delivering one of his top performances.

“It takes a lot of courage not just to be a great singer but to be in touch enough with your emotions and feelings,” says Adam.

“Every time you perform, you just show a different element of yourself,” says Christina. “That was absolutely beautiful. I want to hear it again.”

Team Pharrell: Hannah Huston

Hannah Huston is Pharrell’s only shot at finals, and she takes that role very seriously. She delivers the least wedding singer-y version of Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman” that has probably ever happened, and leaves it all on the stage in the night’s final performance. Whether she’s got the fan base to vote her through to the finals remains to be seen, but it’s easily one of the top performances of the night.

“You’re probably one of the most consistent people from the beginning,” says Adam. “You are like the weird stealth assassin on this show right now.”

“That was awesome,” says Pharrell. “It’s been a slow build You know you also deserve to be here, and you’re like singing and giving it your very best.”

Duets aside, just about everyone delivered, which will make tonight’s results even more heartbreaking delightful. Any guesses as to which half stays and which half goes?