Reality TV

The Voice 2016 – Live Blog and Recap – Live Top 12 Performances (VIDEO)

Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 2016, “Live Top 12 Performances”! Coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Pharrell Williams and host Carson Daly set out to find the next great singer!

The Top 12 perform live! And we’ve got song spoilers for each contestant, thanks to iTunes!

Team Pharrell Williams

Daniel Passino, “Human Nature” by Michael Jackson
Emily Keener, “Lilac Wine” by Jeff Buckley
Hannah Huston, “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” by Christina Aguilera

Team Adam Levine

Laith Al-Saadi, “Born Under a Bad Sign” by Albert King
Owen Danoff, “7 Years” by Lukas Graham
Shalyah Fearing, “Up to the Mountain” by Patti Griffin (Kelly Clarkson version)

Team Blake Shelton

Adam Wakefield, “Soulshine” by The Allman Brothers Band
Mary Sarah, “So Small” by Carrie Underwood
Paxton Ingram, “Hands to Myself” by Selena Gomez

Team Christina Aguilera

Alisan Porter, “Stone Cold” by Demi Lovato
Bryan Bautista, “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal
Nick Hagelin, “Mine Would be You” by Blake Shelton

Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be updating with commentary, results, and videos as soon as they become available!

The Voice 2016 - Live Blog and Recap - Live Top 12 Performances (VIDEO)

Credit: NBC

Let’s get this show on the road!

RECAP

-Carson kicks off the show by announcing that the finalists will premiere original songs with original music videos during the finale. I doubt any of them will be able to measure up to the awesomeness of Chris Jamison’s “Velvet”.

TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: MARY SARAH opens the show!

-Mary talks about her reasons for choosing “So Small” by Carrie Underwood. Turns out her brother was born premature, and was later diagnosed with diabetes. This is a song about overcoming your challenges, and she’s very passionate about helping the disabled. She sounds great on the song from what we hear in rehearsals, although Blake wonders if she might be straining her voice in places. But he ends up being optimistic about her performance overall by the end of their coaching session. I feel like it bears comment, but Mary looks amazing in the dress she ultimately goes with for her performance. Like a total star.

-I liked this WAY more than I thought I would. It’s a great song, but I worried Mary would just end up looking like a pageant contestant up there, with the uplifting song and the long, flowing dress. But Mary struck a very nice balance between pushing her voice and showing restraint. There were times where I thought she had the microphone a little too close to her mouth, but she still sounded pretty good overall.

-Christina notes how pretty Mary is (Mary: “I feel like a princess!”), before admitting she’s not familiar with this song. But she praises Mary for always delivering a solid performance. Pharrell asks if Mary could ever imagine, when working at Boot Barn, that she’d be hitting those high notes in front of an audience like this and a coach like Blake Shelton. He gives her a thumbs up on the performance. Adam then talks about how happy the owner of Boot Barn must be for the plug. He thinks it was cool that Mary did this song, since she managed to take her old fashioned style and apply it to a contemporary song. Blake says Mary made him really pay attention to the lyrics of that song for the first time, and says that while she might be sick of hearing him say how great she is, Mary walks that fine line between a traditional country artist and a more modern star.

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: LAITH AL-SAADI is up next!

-Laith loves blues, and has been singing and playing professionally since he was a teenager. He was even a finalist in a nationwide blues competition. So he’ll be singing “Born Under a Bad Sign” by one of his favorite blues guitarists, Albert King. This is one of those rare coaching sessions where we don’t really see the contestant getting mentored, since Adam seems to love just about everything Laith does. He does wonder about people being able to connect with Laith’s subtlety, but he thinks it’s compelling to see how much Laith digs into a song.

-I’m of two minds with Laith: he’s a great singer, but I kind of feel like he isn’t right for this competition. He has moments where his voice sounds amazing, and others where he sounds kind of weak, as though his voice is wavering. The good moments easily outweigh the bad, and yet I just can’t get into a song choice like this. That said, Laith absolutely slays it on the guitar, and that alone almost makes me want to see him go far. In fact, I expect him to go on a deep, Nicholas David-esque run in this competition. He’s suspiciously popular.

-Blake admits he doesn’t know much about blues, but feels that was as good as it gets. He thinks everything about Laith is larger than life. Pharrell tells the audience that Laith is the real thing, with real rock and roll spirit, and real blues talent. He tells America they simply have to vote Laith through. Adam, meanwhile, says he’s simply proud to have Laith on his team, since what he represents is very different from what they usually have on the show, which he finds refreshing. He notes there’s never been anyone on the show like Laith, to which I’d point back to the previous Nicholas David comparison.

TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: DANIEL PASSINO is up next!

-Daniel will be singing “Human Nature” by Michael Jackson, and he immediately impresses Pharrell by producing his version of the song by developing every step of the arrangement. In one insightful segment, Daniel talks about wanting to start out acoustically in order to give the song a build that will hook the audience. Pharrell loves seeing him act as producer. Daniel notes this is the type of thing he’d like to do “when he becomes an artist,” prompting Pharrell to remind him that he already is one, since singers don’t talk like this. He wants Daniel to stop creating doubt from nothing.

-This is a totally beautiful vocal, and I really dug the arrangement. In fact, I would have loved to hear it remain entirely acoustic all the way through. But Daniel really finessed the song once the band kicked in, throwing in some moves, and even looking like he’s having a great time up there (that laugh!). The ending falsetto was a bit wonky, but this was about as close to perfect as any Daniel performance this season.

-Adam notes what confidence can do for a person, saying he’s never been as comfortable onstage as Daniel was there. Christina gets the “Daaaamn Daniel!” out of the way (please let this not become a thing), and then praises him for being so smooth. Pharrell thinks Daniel killed it, and I can’t say I disagree, even if I do find myself wondering how many people are going to remember that by the end of the show.

-Back from break, with Carson interviewing Blake about his new album, and unveiling the new album cover, which is black and white except for Blake’s blue eyes. He jokes that this will be his last album, since he’s a Voice coach now more than a musician. The album drops May 20th.

TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: EMILY KEENER is up next!

-Pharrell believes in Emily, and wants her to have that same kind of confidence in herself. Emily introduces her father to Pharrell, and the two men go over music interests. Emily notes that many of her music interests come from her father, and he admits he started her young. Emily will be singing “Lilac Wine” by Jeff Buckley, and Pharrell suggests she keep the vocal delicate, in order to separate herself from the big, belting vocalists in the Top 12 this season. But no matter what happens, Pharrell feels he’s looking at a real artist.

-This is easily Emily’s best vocal of the entire competition. I wasn’t entirely sold on the song choice at first, but this is the type of sleepy, lullaby-type song that suits Emily’s voice really well. It makes her sounds otherworldly. I worry it might have been a bit too sleepy though, since I can’t imagine this will be among the more memorable performances of the night. But I really did love this vocal. I even love seeing the story of the song play out across her face. Girlfriend seemed like she was about to fall to pieces. For all I know, maybe she was. She earns a standing ovation from the coaches, including Christina!

-Adam has always wanted to hear this song on the show (then why didn’t you give it to one of your own artists?), and he loves that it was done in a stunning version. Christina thought that performance was magical, saying Emily taps into so many different emotions over the course of her performance. Pharrell thinks the amount of soul Emily poured into the song was breathtaking, and pleads with America to vote for her.

TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: NICK HAGELIN is up next!

-Nick talks about how his son wants to watch the result of him being added to the Top 12 a billion times over. Nick says he met his wife when he was eighteen and that music brought them together. He’s wanted to sing a song for her on this show for a while, so he’ll be singing “Mine Would Be You” by Blake Shelton, a song he first heard four years ago. Christina gives some pointers on directions the song could take that would make it sound prettier. But overall, Nick seems to have reinvented the song.

-Nick could have sounded great on this, but I think it was just pitched way too low for him. He essentially sacrificed the verses and parts of the chorus in order to make sure the higher notes were in the pocket of his voice towards the end, and the performance suffered for it. I like Nick’s voice, and I want to see him go far, and it was definitely one of the more emotional performances of the night so far (Nick’s wife is GORGEOUS, by the way). But I think he’s better than this performance.

-Pharrell is impressed at the difference with Nick, although Adam bumps in by noting that Nick moved more up on that stage than Blake has moved in his entire life. Blake wasn’t sold on the song choice at first, but now he expects people will want him to do Nick’s version. Christina says Nick is a pleasure to work with, and notes how surprised she was to learn he liked country. This caused Blake to send up a cheer. You know, I think Nick has potential to be this season’s Chris Jamison, as in the guy who simply grows and grows over the course of the season to where he becomes a contender.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Nick Hagelin Dedicates Emotional Blake Shelton Song to Wife on The Voice 2016 (VIDEO)

TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: ADAM WAKEFIELD is up next!

-Adam says that before the show, he had nearly given up on ever being a solo artist. But the show has given him new hope. He’ll be playing “Soulshine” by The Allman Brothers Band, since it’s very near and dear to his heart. He and his late brother used to play this all over town in bars for twelve people. When his brother passed away, it was hard for him to ever listen to this song again. But Blake notes that this is a song about hope, and he pushes Adam to explore his upper register more. This could be a real moment if Adam plays this right.

-This is the most I’ve ever liked this song on a reality singing competition. Too often, the song kind of gets away from the singer (think CJ Harris from American Idol 13). But here, Adam is in control the entire time, even when his emotion starts to overcome him. He’s just such a passionate dude, and it shines through (no pun intended) in his music. Adam, Blake and Pharrell give him a standing ovation, and I’d argue he deserves it. His tone is superb, and adding an organ to the arrangement gave it an almost religious feel to it. I loved this.

-Pharrell thinks it’s crazy that we’re taking people to church on TV every week. He thinks Adam totally delivered it, and says a lot of people across America had to have felt that. Adam Levine tells Adam that he can choose whether he wants to be a solo artist or not, because all his idols are going to want to work with him now. He already feels like Adam is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer with twelve albums out. Blake simply states that Adam is going to be around for a long, long time. Honestly, he reminds me of Chris Stapleton, which might be why I love this guy as much as I do. He could be a big deal.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Adam Wakefield Stuns With ‘Soulshine’ on The Voice 2016 (VIDEO)

TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: BRYAN BAUTISTA is up next!

-Christina thinks this could be a great moment for Bryan, although I have no idea why, with a song choice like this. But Bryan is intent on bringing it, acknowledging that coaches can no longer save artists in the competition. Hopefully, Bryan will be able to pull it out.

-Unfortunately, I think this performance will result in a one-way trip to the Bottom 3. He had some good moments in this, particularly towards the end, but I think this was a mess in almost every other respect. And I say that as someone who likes Bryan. In some areas, the song was pitched too low, making him borderline inaudible. In other areas, he was too boisterous.

-Pharrell thought it was a great performance, talking about how impressive Bryan is. Christina, meanwhile, thinks every woman in America should buy that song on iTunes and lull themselves to sleep with Bryan. She loves how he’s trying to map out a trajectory for himself in this competition, and she’s proud of him and what he’s accomplished.

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: OWEN DANOFF is up next!

-Adam loves how this show highlights the underdog, and illustrates how many different kinds of artists there can be. Owen will be singing “7 Years” by Lukas Graham, and while Adam loves the song choice, he doesn’t think Owen should play bass on the track, since he should be putting his entire body into this. Owen trusts Adam because he feels Adam saw something in him, which is why he saved him last week.

-I love the vocal, although I wish Adam had let him play the guitar or the bass out there, despite his concerns. Because Owen just seems awkward and lost out there without it. That said, I think Owen is a real dark horse in this competition. He’s one of the strongest male vocalists of the season, and he pours a lot of feeling into his performances. I really enjoyed this, and I hope Owen doesn’t find himself in danger again. It’s crazy to me that we might not have had him at all in the Top 12 if Adam hadn’t saved him.

-Pharrell loves seeing a shy singer come alive up there. Adam, meanwhile, loves how he came out with fierceness, which caused the audience to rally behind him. He’s really proud of Owen and what he accomplished here tonight.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Owen Danoff Wows Adam Levine With ‘7 Years’ on The Voice 2016 (VIDEO)

TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: ALISAN PORTER is up next!

-Alisan has a lot of respect for Demi Lovato for talking openly about her struggles, which Alisan has shared in her life. She’ll be singing “Stone Cold”, and Christina loves the song choice, saying she could easily see this on an Alisan Porter album. Alisan fights back tears when talking about how happy she is to have been voted through by America, noting that this is who she is, and she fought for a long time to make it here to this point.

-While you could probably split hairs over which song represents Alisan’s BEST performance, this is easily my FAVORITE Alisan performance. It makes the case for her current relevance in the music scene. I just loved her tone, and how effortlessly she controlled this vocal, showing the broadness of her range and the depth of feeling capable in her performance. She earned that standing O.

-Pharrell is virtually speechless, while Adam simply wishes he’d had Alisan on his team, since there’s always that one person every season who takes the competition by storm. Blake, meanwhile, wonders if Alisan ever gets tired of being so great, while also wondering if she could do them all a favor and just suck for one week. But Christina states it’s impossible for Alisan to suck, and praises her for her hard work, dedication, and incredible talent. Alisan thanks Christina for how much she’s helped her grow, and yeah, I think Alisan is still the one to beat this season.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Alisan Porter Steals the Show With ‘Stone Cold’ on The Voice 2016 (VIDEO)

TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: PAXTON INGRAM is up next!

-Paxton thinks he picked the right coach because Blake allows him to get back to being fun. He’ll be singing a ballad rendition of “Hands To Myself” by Selena Gomez, which Blake thinks will only amplify his crush on Paxton. He has faith in Paxton as a total package entertainer, and while I’m not really sold on the song choice or arrangement, I think Paxton is one of the more underrated contestants of the season.

-I have no idea what the hell this was. On the one hand, I liked the arrangement. But I just didn’t like Paxton’s vocal on it. He just has this affected way of singing that reminds me of Shawn Mendes, and how he over-enunciates his words. It’s just really distracting, which is a shame, because Paxton’s upper register is quite lovely. But this just did nothing for me, unfortunately.

-Pharrell thinks Miami should be proud, and says it’s clear that Paxton not only loves singing, he loves lifting people up through song. He thinks Paxton should sing something inspirational in the weeks to come. Blake agrees, saying Paxton will be around for weeks to come. He feels Paxton is awesome, and wants to dig in with song choice. I’d be really shocked if Paxton wasn’t at risk tomorrow night.

TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: HANNAH HUSTON is up next!

-Hannah will be singing “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” by Christina Aguilera, and Pharrell is so impressed, he feels she could actually win this competition. It’s a song that means a lot to her, since this was what she sang for her city audition in Omaha. But Pharrell reminds her that she isn’t in Nebraska anymore, so she can’t leave her fate in the hands of other people. He’s basically telling her she needs to become a “shot-caller” by telling the band what she wants. And she does, resulting in a much better rehearsal performance. Pharrell really does feel Hannah could go all the way and win this thing, and I’m with him on that. So many true contenders in the running this season, even though it already kind of feels like Alisan’s title to lose.

-This was terrific! I can’t remember the last person on this show to deliver Christina-levels of dirty soulfulness. Maybe Kimberly Nichole? But Hannah just got UGLY with this, and it was glorious. Those riffs and runs, the growl in her voice, the way she worked the stage. Everything about this was just tremendous, and I would have been happy to see her close the show with this.

-Adam coins the term “alien soul” to describe Hannah’s voice, which I guess he intended to convey an “otherworldly” quality, but Blake simply interprets it as Adam comparing her to E.T. Blake loves Hannah, and while he isn’t sure if the song choices are her ideas or Pharrell’s (did you not watch the video package, dude?), he lets her know he’s a fan. Pharrell says everyone in Nebraska should vote for her, before praising the ups and downs of her voice. He then says she’s an inspiration, since other people see what can happen when you’re willing to dream.

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: SHALYAH FEARING closes the show!

-Shalyah feels good about herself, and Adam feels good about that because it means she’s doing her best as a singer, and he’s doing his best as a coach. Shalyah is shocked to have heard her name called first at last week’s results show, since she’s humbled by millions of people voting for her. She’ll be singing the Kelly Clarkson version of “Up to the Mountain” by Patti Griffin, which she feels describes her trajectory in the competition. She’s been eliminated twice, stolen twice, and now she’s in the Top 12, still persevering. This should be a great song for her gospel and R&B sensibilities. I haven’t loved all of her performances, but I can’t pretend Shalyah isn’t a hell of a singer.

-Shalyah is kind of the opposite of Hannah for me. When she gets dirty with a song and adds all that grit to it, it always feels like too much. The way she acted out the song was kind of distracting for me, like watching a theatrical performance rather than a vocal one. With that said, I have absolutely nothing but praise for her vocal. The purity of her passion is evident in every note she sings, and I thought this was a fitting way to close the show. You can tell she’s starting to believe in herself, and that faith could carry her farther than she might have ever imagined.

-Christina loves how Shalyah goes to the edge of the cliff and jumps off, saying that her feeling and her passion are two of her most important qualities as a singer. Pharrell is happy to have shared in Shalyah’s journey as a former coach of hers, along with Christina. He praises her for lifting the song and for lifting this audience. Adam finds it hard to wrap his head around Shalyah only being 16-years-old. He thanks Christina for being the only one to push her button in the blinds, because they’d have missed out on Shalyah otherwise. “I don’t even know where you get it, sometimes. It blows my mind,” Adam declares.

-And that’s a wrap! But what did you think of the Top 12 show? Sound off in the comments!

Until tomorrow night’s results, thank you for reading and hanging out!

GOODNIGHT!

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