Reality TV

The Voice 8 – Live Blog and Recap – The Live Playoffs, Night 2 (VIDEO)

Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 8, “The Live Playoffs, Night 2”! Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams and Christina Aguilera have completed their teams, and now it’s up to America to decide who advances!

Tonight, Adam and Christina will see their teams compete! I’m way more excited for this show than I was for last night’s live show premiere, since some of my absolute favorite singers in the competition are in tonight’s lineup. I literally have no idea which three singers from these teams will advance. There’s an insane amount of talent here.

But what will the finalists sing? Check out the song spoilers with iTunes links below:

The Voice 8 - The Live Playoffs, Night 2 - Team Adam

Credit: NBC

Team Adam Levine
Tonya Boyd-Cannon, “Take Me to the Pilot” by Elton John (iTunes)
Joshua Davis, “Budapest” by George Ezra (iTunes)
Nathan Hermida, “Chains” by Nick Jonas (iTunes)
Brian Johnson, “At This Moment” by Billy Vera (iTunes)
Deanna Johnson, “Down to the River to Pray” by Alison Krauss (iTunes)

The Voice 8 - The Live Playoffs, Night 2 - Team Christina

Credit: NBC

Team Christina Aguilera
India Carney, “Hurt” by Christina Aguilera (iTunes)
Lexi Davila, “All By Myself” by Celine Dion (iTunes)
Kimberly Nichole, “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blonds (iTunes)
Sonic, “I’m Going Down” by Rose Royce (iTunes)
Rob Taylor, “Earned It” by The Weeknd (iTunes)

Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be posting results, videos, commentary, and more as the night rolls on.

The Voice 8 - Live Blog and Recap - The Live Playoffs, Night 2 (VIDEO)

Credit: NBC

Let’s get this show on the road!

RECAP

-The coaches are introduced, and Adam and Pharrell seem locked in the middle of a very serious conversation. I wonder what they were talking about, because both guys seem super stressed about whatever it was. We then recap last night’s performance show, with the highlights of Team Blake and Team Pharrell’s artists. Yeah, Sawyer Fredericks is the one to beat right now.

-We follow this up with a performance from Sia, who’s just outstanding. She performs “Elastic Heart,” but no Maddie Ziegler this time. I had begun to think she was going to become Sia’s private, touring dancer. But hey, at least Sia brought back the face-obscuring wig, with a curtain of bangs keeping her face a mystery. I mean, it’s not like we don’t know what she looks like, but I find it vaguely amusing that all of her performances are meant to center more on her voice and the meaning of the song by drawing attention away from her face. Of course, by dressing so outlandishly, she can’t help but draw attention away from her voice. But it’s neither here nor there, since this sounds TERRIFIC. Sia is seriously one of the few artists who sings live and sounds exactly like the studio version. This was just stunning.

-Back from break with some chatting with the judges, and it’s basically an echo of last night: everyone is talented. The coaches are super-confident in their artists. And both Adam and Christina are looking spiffy, so sayeth Carson. Been there, done that (although, to be fair, he’s not wrong).

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: TONYA BOYD-CANNON opens the show!

-Tonya says she’s usually the teacher, but she’s so humbled to get to be the student now, studying under Adam. He’s given her one of his favorite songs, “Take Me to the Pilot” by Elton John. He notes that it has very soulful, gospel undertones, which means a lot to Tonya, since her family initially didn’t agree with her decision to sing secular music. But they saw her onstage and came around to supporting her. I like Tonya and think she has a great voice, but I’m not sure I love this song choice. I’m interested to hear what she does with it though, since the rehearsal shows her experimenting with some neat ad libs, with Adam’s encouragement.

-I didn’t love this, even while I can’t fault a single note of it. It was an energetic, soulful performance that ranks among Tonya’s absolute best of the season. And yet, I don’t know what it was, but I couldn’t connect with this. I think part of it was song choice, and part of it was general fatigue with gospel singers on this show (I know, I know, please don’t hate me! Just different tastes!). That said, I really can’t front on this vocal. Like, at all. This was downright fantastic. It just wasn’t my cup.

-Blake says that Tonya sings like a star, and notes how refreshing it is to see someone like Tonya living in the moment. Christina agrees with Blake and expresses that she thoroughly enjoyed it. Pharrell says if America has never been in the church before, they’ve just seen what happens. He says she got everyone’s spirit moving in here, and adds that he’s glad to get to be on a show that allows this level of talent to be seen. Adam, meanwhile, praises Tonya for being bold and brave, and embracing these moments instead of being afraid of it. He says he frequently tells his team to just “Do what Tonya does,” since that’s all anyone should ever need to do. That really seems to move Tonya, and I don’t blame her. Again, I really do like Tonya, and this was a damn good vocal. But it just didn’t reach me in the way her past performances have. Still, she showed a lot of stage presence here, to match all that soul she’s got. So I wouldn’t be surprised if she secured a spot in the Top 12.

WATCH: Tonya Boyd-Cannon sings ‘Take Me To The Pilot’ (or church) on The Voice 2015 (VIDEO)

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: JOSHUA DAVIS is up next!

-Joshua talks about the sacrifices he’s had to make to be on The Voice, such as missing the birth of his son, and being away from his family. But he’s excited about Adam’s song choice for him. He says that while “Budapest” by George Ezra was a big hit in the UK, it’s not as well-known here, so he can put his spin on it without necessarily having to compare with the original. Joshua feels he has a lot in common with Adam, and…well, this is all well and good, but it’s driving me nuts trying to think of who Joshua reminds me of. I just can’t place who he looks like. I suppose he kind of looks like the lead singer of Five For Fighting, but that’s not it. Ah! This is going to drive me nuts.

-I love this song choice for Joshua, as it shows he’s capable of being a contemporary artist, even with his folk leanings. It’s also his most engaging performance. The dude just looks like he’s having a blast up there. Sure, it’s easy listening, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be compelling to see performed. I think he could be a real stealth threat to go far in this competition. Hell, the crowd seems to really love him after the performance, to boot. (His wife loves it too, although his infant son has giant blue headphones over his head to block out the noise, which is utterly adorable)

-Blake feels stupid for letting Joshua go (Adam: “Hear hear!”), since he’s such a genuine talent. Christina, meanwhile, praises Joshua for having such a soothing voice, and feels his kids must love hearing him sing them lullabies. Pharrell jokingly gripes that Christina said everything he wanted to say. He adds that Joshua has such a wonderful, inquisitive tone, while Adam simply expresses his pride in what Joshua accomplished up there. I’m really wondering who’s going to get the three spots on Team Adam, since I could see any of his five making the Top 12. This is one of those rare nights where who goes through likely will be determined simply by who does the best, and less by popularity contest.

WATCH: Joshua Davis sings soothing ‘Budapest’ on The Voice 2015 (VIDEO)

-Back from break as Carson is in the Sprint Skybox with Adam and Chris Jamison, who talks about what he’s been up to since his time on the show. He keeps it vague and simply says he’s been playing a lot of shows, while Adam reminisces about last season. Carson then throws to the video wall in which he says the audience was asked to vote on Twitter on whether they’d rather see Chris and Adam’s secret handshake, or see Chris’s hidden talent. Carson throws to the results, but the screen freezes, so Adam and Chris just do their handshake…which isn’t really much of a secret handshake at all.

TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: SONIC is up next!

-Sonic talks about how her father calls her an idol back home. However, Christina is having her take a risk this time with her most soulful song choice yet, “I’m Going Down” by Rose Royce. Christina implores Sonic to get into it, working on her vocal runs and even suggesting she get on her knees to really sell the passion of the track. Naturally, passion is super-important on a song like this. It’s a great song choice for Sonic, although a bit old-fashioned. Her best performances have been more contemporary stuff. That said, I’m optimistic for this.

-Well, it was mostly good, particularly with the passion in her runs. Unfortunately, it sounds like she spends 70% of the song in the wrong key. Maybe the song is really like that. I haven’t listened to the original enough to know, one way or another. But this just didn’t work for me, even while the tone of her voice is just lovely. It simply felt like something was off here.

-Pharrell thought Sonic took them on a lovely journey, and loved how she dug deep into the core of each note. Adam applauds Sonic for finding her way back, without really addressing what mistakes she might have made in the first place. Seriously, is there something in their contract that says they can’t criticize contestants? Blake says it’s almost not even worth it to nitpick when contestants are this talented, which seems to be missing the point entirely. If they were perfect and didn’t need to hear any constructive criticism, they’d all have made it already. But they haven’t, and so they’re here. So why waste their time by blowing smoke up their asses? I don’t get it. Christina, for her part, praises Sonic for being an inspiration to girls with hearing loss and similar disabilities. I like Sonic, but unless the rest of Team Christina bombs, I don’t know that there’s room for her in the Top 12.

WATCH: Sonic sings gutsy ‘I’m Going Down’ on The Voice 2015 (VIDEO)

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: BRIAN JOHNSON is up next!

-Adam thanks Blake for being stupid enough to let both Joshua and Brian go. Brian then reveals how happy he is to be working with Adam, since he wore out Maroon 5’s first album when he was 12. Man, that makes me feel old, and I’m not even 30 yet. Brian talks about how he was unpopular until he got into a music school, at which point he was the cool kid. Adam says the same thing happened to him, and that it’s all about finding where you belong among like-minded people. Brian will be singing “At This Moment” by Billy Vera, and Adam likes the vocal but stresses that Brian really sell the urgency of the song. Brian is eager to work hard to make this his best performance, and secure a place in the Top 12, and I’d argue he’s likable enough to pull it off, without even getting into the talent.

-I thought this was Brian’s best performance, full-stop. There was not a false note in this entire vocal, and while I doubted the song choice initially, this really was the perfect pick for him. He gets standing ovations from Adam and Pharrell, and earns a raucous response from the crowd, especially his stunned, teary-eyed wife in the audience, who looks like she didn’t even know Brian had that in him. I love it.

-Blake says the performance reminded him of Family Ties, and calls Brian a perfect vocalist. Christina noticed how much Brian poured into the performance, and says it was “so sweet” that she couldn’t help but love it. Pharrell praises Brian for being so comfortable up there. Adam talks about how the song choice initially confused Brian, since he didn’t know the song. (Blake: “It’s from Family Ties!” Adam: “Enough about Family Ties!”). He knows Brian wants to win The Voice, but also knows it’s about more than that for Brian, and that’s what he loves about him. I felt Brian really had to have a blowaway performance to remain in the running for a Top 12 spot since, while he’s certainly likable, he’s not one of those personalities who’s so memorable that viewers couldn’t imagine the Top 12 without him. He needed to really make a case for a spot in the Top 12. And I think he more than did that here, delivering an outstanding performance that could earn him his place in next week’s show.

WATCH: Brian Johnson sings ‘At This Moment’ on The Voice 2015 (VIDEO)

TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: KIMBERLY NICHOLE is up next!

-Kimberly talks about how her great grandmother will be in attendance this week, which means a lot to her since her great grandmother has been such a vital part of her life. Christina reveals she got Kimberly a song that has never been cleared for this show before, “What’s Up” by Four Non Blondes. She even emailed Linda Perry to get it, telling her about an amazing talent that could really knock it out of the ballpark. Christina and Kimberly go over how best to let go on the track, as Kimberly says she feels this could be her chance to show her humanity. Wait, she doesn’t think she’s been showing that already? Oh man, now I’m REALLY excited for this. Honestly, between Kimberly and Tonya Boyd-Cannon, I’m thinking there’s a correlation between hair and talent. The less hair on a female contestant’s head, the better the singer.

-This is a killer vocal, as usual for Kimberly. It’s a song that shows that for all the grief we tend to give the coaches for their outdated song choices, sometimes these coaches really do know what they’re talking about when it comes to song picks. Because I never would have picked this for Kimberly, but I thought it was absolutely perfect for her voice. After the performance, the crowd and the coaches give her one of the longest standing ovations in the history of the show, as Kimberly wipes away tears upon seeing her great grandmother in the crowd (her great grandmother is in tears too. She looks great for 91, by the way). It’s a real tearjerker of a moment, and it’s honestly one of the most touching moments of the season. In fact, I’d go as far as to call it THE moment of the season so far.

-Pharrell calls the performance perfection, crediting the depth of soul and personality in her voice, and also the way in which she uses her instrument. “America should be voting for you right now!” Adam loves that Kimberly got to sing that song, and reminds America just how hard that song is to sing. He says she was in such control that she even controlled that “stiff-ass dress” she was wearing, doing a silly dance to illustrate it. Blake takes a “stiff drink” and says that while he’s just on the sidelines tonight, he honestly feels Team Christina just lapped Team Adam with that performance. As we come to Christina, Kimberly shouts out Christina’s name randomly. I love ya, Kimberly, but you owe me new speakers after that. As for the critique, Christina thanks Linda Perry for the song, and thanks Kimberly for such a terrific performance. No way she doesn’t get in, after that. Whether America puts her through or Christina does, Kimberly Nichole is so going through.

WATCH: Kimberly Nichole sings Fantasia-esque ‘What’s Up’ on The Voice 2015 (VIDEO)

TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: LEXI DAVILA is up next!

-Lexi is thrilled to be working with Christina Aguilera, and Christina picks up on her enthusiasm. Christina gives her the Celine Dion version of “All By Myself”, but Lexi has trouble connecting with it due to her limited experience in romance. But they work on digging into the emotion of the track, resulting in some really impressive runs. Lexi feels like Christina gets her since she started her career when she was a teenager, much like Lexi. I’m optimistic about Lexi’s potential here, but if I’m honest, I could do without ever hearing this song on a show like this ever again.

-There are certainly some really, really good moments here, as the song pushes Lexi’s voice to its limits. Hell, MY throat was hurting hearing her go for those high notes. But she hits them all, and all while remaining on pitch. Sure, there were some iffy moments during the choruses, but overall, this was one of Lexi’s better performances. Even if America doesn’t vote her through, I think Christina should consider making her the third pick. She’s a very modern, youthful, package artist, and I feel like she’s generally being underestimated.

-Adam is proud of Lexi, and says that while he normally would say how stupid he is for letting a singer like Lexi go, he feels that she’s actually meant to be with Christina, since she’s now at her best. Blake thought Lexi did a tremendous job, particularly when she got away from the mic stand and took the key to the next level. Lexi lets Christina know she’s her number one fan, and Christina returns the favor by saying what a huge fan of Lexi she is. She talks about how she knows what it’s like to fear the big note that’s coming around the corner, but feels Lexi pulled it off incredibly well. She couldn’t be happier with what Lexi accomplished up there.

WATCH: Lexi Davila sings ‘All By Myself’ on The Voice 2015 (VIDEO)

-Back from break with Carson fielding hints in the Sprint Skybox over who the mystery mentor is for next week’s show. He then pieces all the hints together to reveal…

I like Reba, so no complaints here.

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: NATHAN HERMIDA is up next!

-Nathan talks about how this experience has given him a taste of what it’s like to be a major performing artist. Adam feels “Chains” by Nick Jonas will allow Nathan to embrace his R&B roots while also helping him get out of his shell. He says that while Nathan might not have a whole lot of experience with heartbreak, being a performer occasionally means playing a role. He encourages Nathan to not be afraid of going for notes, and stresses how important it is for him to finish his notes as well, since it’s the difference between a professional and an amateur. Nathan takes all the advice in stride, and Adam congratulates him on making it to the playoffs.

-I like Nathan, and I even liked the darker arrangement on this, but I felt like this took Nathan too far away from what got him here in the first place. Sure, he was an R&B artist, but he was also sweet and shy too. He wasn’t some swaggering, dark, brooding, mature R&B artist. He was a more soulful version of pop-era Justin Bieber. But this? It just felt like a grave miscalculation, as Nathan’s voice breaks on the big notes, and his voice trails off on others. And that’s when he’s not being drowned out by the band. This was an absolute mess. Nathan went from being someone I believed was a surefire pick to make the Top 12 to becoming a guy who’d be lucky to get that second chance, which is a shame because I liked Nathan a whole hell of a lot going into this.

-Pharrell says it sounded good, but he can’t hear him over the audience. It felt like Pharrell was struggling to find something positive to say, but we move on pretty quickly to Adam, who gives Nathan 100% for the fearlessness he had to show in order to dig in and perform. He admits there were issues, but says Nathan is miles ahead of where he started, considering how shy he once was onstage, and how far out of his shell this took him. I can appreciate the kindness, but part of my problem with The Voice is the tendency towards positive reinforcement over constructive criticism. You can tell people what they did wrong without breaking them down. I mean, Nathan probably needs to hear it more than most since he’s so young. I just didn’t get this performance at all.

WATCH: Nathan Hermida sings ‘Chains’ on The Voice 2015 (VIDEO)

TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: INDIA CARNEY is up next!

-India talks about finals in class, as Christina notes that it’s finals everywhere India turns: in school, and on The Voice. India tells Christina she’s honored to be mentored by her on the song choice, which is “Hurt” by Christina herself. It sounds great, but Christina wants India to “wear the emotion on [her] face,” telling her to think of someone to whom these lyrics can apply. India says she does have someone in mind from back home, to whom she’s not as close as she once was. But India says she’s still taking it all in, as it still doesn’t seem to have entirely sunk in that Christina Aguilera is her coach, and that she’s in the live playoffs.

-I thought this was one of India’s best performances, although I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to how much vibrato she has in her voice, or how overly dramatic she is in each performance. That said, the theatrics actually add a lot to the performance here, as it’s a song that calls for that level of passion and pain. She seems like she’s fighting back tears towards the end. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much she looks like a star here in her white dress and huge, curly locks. And that run at the end was a total killer. Color me impressed. The crowd likes her, although they don’t really sound enthusiastic to the extent that I would have expected them to be, considering how stoked they were for some other contestants. But the crowd reaction is somewhat overshadowed by the coaches’ reaction, as they all give her a standing ovation.

-Pharrell compares it to watching a film, and says the credits should be rolling right now. Blake jealously shouts about just how talented Team Christina is. Meanwhile, Christina praises India for her ability, and expresses how blessed she feels to have India on her team. Yup, it must be late in the show, since we’re pretty much rushing through coach critiques. Two performers left, and they’re really not the two I’d think would close the show this week. Here’s hoping they both deliver.

WATCH: India Carney sings ‘Hurt’ on The Voice 2015 (VIDEO)

TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: ROB TAYLOR is up next!

-Rob talks about how the comments online have gotten to him a bit, but Christina says there will always be haters trying to tear you down. She says that he has a gift and deserves to be here, and this puts Rob’s mind at ease (“If you believe, I believe!”). He’ll be singing “Earned It” by The Weeknd, and this might be the best song choice of the night, honestly. This fits Rob’s voice like a glove, and illustrates his relevance. He already sounds great in rehearsals, and although Christina shows off a bit with some suggestions for ad libs, Rob really comes across well here. I love his story too, as a taxman with low self-esteem who finds his confidence as the competition rolls on.

-Performance of the night, in my opinion. From a vocal standpoint, there were better performances, but there weren’t any performances tonight I enjoyed more than this, as Rob just LACED into this vocal with a stunning falsetto, working the stage, interacting with the crowd, falling to his knees, and digging into each note. This was powerful stuff, and it earns a well-deserved standing ovation from all four coaches.

-Pharrell calls it the definition of effortless, saying Rob should feel very happy with that, since America loves him. “He just killed that!” Pharrell declares. Adam, meanwhile, tells Rob he loves him, noting how he puts his body into every single note. Adam does his imitation of it, and it’s the funniest moment of the night, particularly when Adam asks Rob to please ignore what he just did. Christina hopes that Rob really listens to the response from the audience and feels this, because he has a tendency to live in his head, and he’s a great singer who should experience all this.

WATCH: Rob Taylor sings effortless ‘Earned It’ on The Voice 2015 (VIDEO)

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: DEANNA JOHNSON is up next!

-Adam says that Deanna has a problem, which is that you can hear the fear in every note she sings. Deanna explains that her confidence issues stem from how girls called her voice “weird” when she performed in high school. However, she does sing without fear in church, largely since she knows no one there will notice or care if she screws up there. So Adam decides to give her “Down to the River to Pray” as a way of bringing the church to The Voice, since he can’t save her anymore. If this is going to happen, she needs to be the one to make it happen. Honestly, if this were a beauty contest, Deanna would win this one without having to sing a single note or answer a single question about saving the rainforests. Hot damn, man. This woman has the look of an absolute star.

-This is a great song choice for Deanna’s voice, although I’m not sure I love the arrangement, since it’s neither overtly spiritual nor stirringly emotional. But maybe that’s just because I’m married to the choral Alison Krauss version from the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Either way, Deanna performs it well, not only sounding great, but really getting into the performance aspect of it, smiling virtually the whole way through. Adam gives her a standing ovation at the end, and Carson points out that this was a girl who didn’t get a single chair turned in Season 5, who came back to make the live playoffs.

-Blake retracts his statement about Team Christina lapping Team Adam, essentially saying they’re even again after that. Pharrell thinks Deanna did a wonderful job, and tells her “welcome back”. Adam tells Deanna, “We have gone through it, you and I,” recalling that they had the back-and-forth talks on whether or not Deanna actually thinks she can win this. But now, it’s as if she delivered on all her early potential. “You finally did what I’ve been waiting for you to do this entire season. It was completely flawless. Just…thank you,” he says, as the episode comes to a close. I’m not sure it was good enough to secure a spot in the Top 12, but if she makes it, I don’t think it’d be a bad choice.

WATCH: Deanna Johnson sings flawless ‘Down to the River to Pray’ on The Voice 2015 (VIDEO)

-And that’s a wrap! My predictions for Team Christina are Kimberly, Rob and India, while I’m going with Joshua, Brian, and Deanna for Team Adam. Tonya probably deserves that last spot more, but I feel like going last will give Deanna a bump. I also feel like there’s more of a story there with her, so it wouldn’t surprise me if the producers nudge Adam to put her through in the event America doesn’t.

But what do you think? Which artists impressed? Which underwhelmed? And whom do you think will advance to the Top 12? Sound off in the comments! Until tomorrow night, thanks for reading and hanging out! It’s been a blast, as always.

GOODNIGHT!

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