The Voice 2016 – Live Blog and Recap – Live Semi-Final Performances (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 2016, “Live Semi-Final Performances”! Coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Pharrell Williams and host Carson Daly set out to find the next great singer!
The Top 8 perform live for a spot in next week’s finale with special guest mentor Pink! FOUR singers will be going home in a semi-final bloodbath, which means song choice is even more important now than ever! Luckily, we’ve got song spoilers for each contestant, thanks to iTunes!
Team Adam Levine
Laith Al-Saadi, “One and Only” by Adele
Shalyah Fearing, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” by Jennifer Holliday
Team Pharrell Williams
Hannah Huston, “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge
Team Christina Aguilera
Alisan Porter, “Desperado” by the Eagles
Bryan Bautista, “Hurt” by Christina Aguilera
Team Blake Shelton
Adam Wakefield, “I’m Sorry” by Blake Shelton
Mary Sarah, “I Told You So” by Randy Travis
Paxton Ingram, “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” by Meatloaf
I like these song choices, for the most part. I’m mostly interested in hearing how Laith tackles an Adele song, or what Adam and Bryan do with songs by their own coaches. It should be a really solid show, if nothing else. I’m not expecting anything new from artists like Paxton, Shalyah or Alisan, but the performances ought to be very good, to say the least. And while I wish Hannah would have been given a more current song like she had last week, I think she could surprise a lot of people with her take on the Percy Sledge classic. I guess we’ll find out tonight. There are no song spoilers right now for the duets, but you can find out which artists have been paired together for tonight’s first-ever performance night duets with these spoilers!
Anyway, keep it locked right here, as I’ll be updating with commentary, results, and videos as soon as they become available!
Let’s get this show on the road!
-We’re live! And Carson Daly wastes no time, as we get straight to the first artist after the coach introductions…
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: SHALYAH FEARING opens the show!
-Shalyah went with an unusual hairstyle especially for Pink, although I have no idea what’s so unusual about it. But hey, Pink loves it. And Shalyah loves Pink, saying she’s always been a fan of hers. Shalyah will be singing “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” by Jennifer Holliday (the Jennifer Hudson version), which Adam thinks Shalyah could really have a moment with, noting that this song is part of the reason J-Hud is such a big success. This song was her declaration that she was going to make it, that you were going to love her. Pink thinks Shalyah has the most beautiful voice she’s ever heard, but fears Shalyah is overdoing the rasp, which makes her rasp less special. Still, she’s excited to hear Shalyah’s version.
-This is my favorite Shalyah performance, even while she doesn’t exactly do anything with the song that I didn’t already expect her to. But predictability doesn’t necessarily make a thing bad. Shalyah delivers real grit to her performance, and never falters once, vocally. It’s the kind of performance that could get her into the finale, provided she had gone later in the show. Then again, it’s hard to know how much performance order really matters on The Voice, especially on a night where each performer is singing twice. I guess we’ll see, but things are mostly looking good for her, since all four coaches give her a standing ovation.
-Christina praises Shalyah and compares her to Jennifer Hudson, noting the immense difficulty of the song. Pharrell is impressed she was able to deliver a performance like that at age 16, and agrees with Christina about how she continues to deliver. Adam says to forget about the fact that Shalyah is 16, she deserves to be in that finale. “I don’t like to beg, but I’m gonna beg you guys to get this girl in there,” Adam says to America.
DUET #1: ADAM WAKEFIELD AND ALISAN PORTER are up next!
-Team Blake’s Adam Wakefield is paired with Team Christina’s Alisan Porter for “Angel From Montgomery” by Bonnie Raitt & John Prine. This is one of the best performances either artist has delivered, due in large part to the restraint the song requires. Adam’s voice sat in the pocket, without any straining or rasp, while Alisan’s shoutier tendencies are reined in a bit. It’s also a great song for both their voices, and just a lovely ballad, in general. I really loved this.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: PAXTON INGRAM is up next!
-Paxton tells Pink he’s been a fan since her first album, prompting Blake to ask, “What about my first album?” Paxton jokes that he has the lyrics tattooed on his back, but he can’t show them due to wearing a jacket, which causes Blake to laugh. Anyway, Paxton will be singing “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” by Meatloaf for some reason. He wants a challenge, and it looks like that’s what he’ll be getting, although Pink is immensely impressed with him, noting that she doesn’t get good until she starts yelling, whereas Paxton pretty much starts out good. Should be interesting, if nothing else.
-This is probably the most current this song will ever sound, and even then, it still sounds a bit on the dated side. In fact, that’s kind of been my problem with Paxton’s song choices. He picks songs that can’t help but sound dated. With that having been said, Paxton’s voice is dependably excellent, and this performance is no different. He’s a hell of a singer, and he’s grown by leaps and bounds in the stage presence department. This was a legitimately great performance, even if I didn’t love the song choice.
-Christina never would have expected a Meat Loaf song from Paxton, but felt he pulled it off with his energy, telling him he packs a real punch up there. Pharrell agrees, telling Paxton he took it to the next step. He felt it was really theatrical, and says he thinks Paxton could do well on Broadway. He thinks it’d be interesting to see Paxton take on more rock tunes in the future. Blake says he isn’t sure if he’s ever been more proud of an artist on the show, saying he hasn’t known anyone who works as hard as Paxton.
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: LAITH AL-SAADI is up next!
-Laith will be singing “One and Only” by Adele, and both Adam and Pink are really impressed with his performance. However, he has some trouble hitting one of the higher notes. Laith doesn’t think he can do it, so Pink advises him that if there’s ever a note he isn’t sure about, to simply clench his butt. Apparently, it’s a technique she learned at the Oscars, and it allowed her to hit her big note on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. Laith gives it a try, and it works! Laith now has the confidence to really tackle this, which is important, since Laith says he doesn’t want to let his fans and supporters down.
-I liked this quite a bit. It wasn’t the most natural fit, and I’m not sure I’d want Laith singing any more Adele songs in the future, but he brought a really cool blues vibe to this, making it sound like the sort of track you’d hear in a bar lounge towards closing time. That rasp just changed this song in a fundamental way, and the added guitar solo pushed this over the top, for me. I’m a fan.
-Blake asks Laith if he clenched his butt, and when he learns Laith didn’t, he’s relieved. He congratulates Laith on that guitar solo and how well it worked. Pharrell wants America to pay attention to the success story Laith has become, since there’s no record company involved, just a man, his fans, and his talent. Adam says he’d be most impressed if Laith made it to the finale, noting how skilled Laith’s performances have been, and how genuine he’s been throughout this competition.
DUET #2: BRYAN BAUTISTA AND MARY SARAH are up next!
-Team Christina’s Bryan Bautista is paired with Team Blake’s Mary Sarah for a performance of “Break Free” by Ariana Grande, and…well, I’m not entirely sure what to think. It’s not awful or anything, but Bryan and Mary are just such an odd fit. Being a pop song, I guess I expected Bryan would be stronger, but I actually think Mary was the stronger performer of the two. Granted, part of it is that I think the song was more in her key than it was in Bryan’s. Poor guy had to strain to hit some of the notes, and it all just became an odd mish-mash of vocal gymnastics between the two towards the end. I guess the big takeaway from this is that I wouldn’t mind hearing Mary tackle more pop songs in the future.
TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: ALISAN PORTER is up next!
-Alisan is a huge Pink fan, and reveals that her very first Voice audition was “Try” — a song which Pink states she can no longer sing seriously, since she changed it up for her daughter in order to get her to eat broccoli. Alisan will be singing “Desperado” by Eagles, and Pink is over-the-moon for Alisan’s version, calling it “the bee’s knees”. Alisan tears up when talking about how much it would mean for her to make it through to the final four, since it means everything to her to be here.
-I adore the string arrangement for this one, and I think it adds a certain Celine Dion quality to the performance. At the very least, that’s kind of who Alisan sounds like right now. And that’s certainly not a bad thing, in my opinion. She showed an impressive amount of restraint, finessing the song and its melody. Sure, it still had her trademark vocal power, but she mostly just saved it for a wild moment towards the end, where she just poured out all her emotions. I really enjoyed this, overall.
-Adam thinks Alisan can do everything, and says that someone who wins this show should not only be able to do everything, but be able to do it as well as Alisan does. Blake feels Alisan always performs well, and states how much he enjoyed her version of one of his favorite songs. Christina feels Alisan has such a talent and a gift, saying that she just did a song that’s so special to the hearts of so many people. She thanks Alisan for what she accomplished up there.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Alisan Porter Stuns With Showstopping ‘Desperado’ on The Voice 2016 (VIDEO)
DUET #3: LAITH AL-SAADI AND HANNAH HUSTON are up next!
-Team Adam’s Laith Al-Saadi is paired with Team Pharrell’s Hannah Huston for a version of “Knock On Wood”, and it’s a surprisingly great performance. I only say “surprisingly” because I’d have expected their styles to clash a bit more than they did. But this felt like the most natural pairing in the world, as both singers brought a gritty amount of soul to this. It was also really fun, with its uptempo style and colorful stage setup. I liked this a lot.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: ADAM WAKEFIELD is up next!
-Blake flatters Adam by telling him that Pink fast-forwards through everyone else and just watches him. Adam talks about how all his students only wanted to learn Pink songs, so it’s surreal for him to be here, working with her. Adam will be singing “I’m Sorry” by Blake Shelton. However, Blake says he’s not giving him the song because it’s his own song, but because Chris Stapleton wrote it, and if there’s any artist he could see Adam making a record similar to, it’s him. Adam certainly sounds terrific here, so I’m optimistic for this.
-Adam delivers the performance of the night, in my opinion. It’s a passionate song that Adam delivers with his customarily smooth, smokey tone. The restrained nature of the arrangement really allows us to focus on Adam’s voice. It’s one hell of a vocal, particularly towards the end, where Adam goes for this haunting runs that just sort of trail off. I loved this to pieces, and I really do think Adam could be the winner of Season 10.
-Pharrell doesn’t even feel like Adam is competing anymore, he’s just coming out and performing for America. He praises Adam for the cleanliness of his vocals and his runs, and says the kind of rapport he has with the audience is unbelievable. Adam Levine says everyone is so taken by what Adam was doing that the crowd was moved to silence, so he tells Adam not to get discouraged if he feels the audience is too quiet. Blake says he’s embarrassed he ever sang the song after hearing Adam sing it. He says Adam has had a lot of breakout moments on the show, but states he’s never had a breakout moment like that, and he can’t wait to see how that song does on the charts.
TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: BRYAN BAUTISTA is up next!
-Bryan talks about having seen Pink as an employee at the Barclays Center, so he feels it’s crazy to actually be here, working with her. Bryan will be singing “Hurt” by Christina Aguilera, talking about the emotional connection he has to the lyrics. As it turns out, Bryan’s father hasn’t been in touch with him since he started the show, so he has no idea if his father even knows he’s in the semi-finals. He’s hurt by that, since his father had always encouraged his music career in the past. Christina warns Bryan against going for too many runs, saying the emotion is more important. Of course, the next clip we hear is Bryan going for the same runs on the same part of the song Christina warned him against. But Christina is still interested to hear a man’s take on this song.
-I loved the beginning with just the piano, and Bryan’s quivering voice. However, once the strings section kicks in, Bryan gets drowned out, and he has to strain to be heard. I really do think this song may have been pitched too high for him. I think just a step lower would have been perfect for him. But by the end of this song, he’s practically raw-throated. Then again, maybe that’s the point, since it makes him sound more emotional and strained. If nothing else, that’s the effect it has at the end of the song. I’m just not sure if this is enough to get him into the finale.
-Adam is not only impressed with Bryan’s singing ability, he respects his ability to be in touch with his emotions. He thought it was a great performance. Christina, meanwhile, talks about how the last time she did this song, she swore she would never do it again because it’s such a crazy song, range-wise. But she felt Bryan did an amazing job with it, and she wants to hear it again. She vows to buy it on iTunes.
DUET #4: PAXTON INGRAM AND SHALYAH FEARING are up next!
-Team Blake’s Paxton Ingram is paired with Team Adam’s Shalyah Fearing for a cover of “Masterpiece” by Jessie J, and instantly, it becomes apparent just how good these two are singing current songs rather than the dreary ballads and gospel songs they’ve been doing. It’s a really solid duet, and it shows a different side to both contestants. I was impressed by this.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: MARY SARAH is up next!
-Mary is thrilled to be working with Pink, while Pink is overjoyed with the traditional country sound Mary represents, saying she’s exactly the kind of artist the industry needs. She’ll be singing “I Told You So” by Randy Travis, and Blake thinks adding a little steel guitar and some light percussion would add a lot to the performance. Surely enough, it does, which impresses Pink. Of course, they both gush about Mary, with Pink asking if Mary could tapdance, just to see if she really can do everything.
-Mary’s voice is absolutely gorgeous here, although the staging is a bit distracting, as all these transparent strips of fabric are hanging from the ceiling, shrouding Mary for much of the performance. Sure, it creates a cool, shadowy effect from a distance, but I’d like to actually see the artist, you know? Without the curtains and shadows? With that said, I love the purity and clarity of Mary’s vocal here, and how even and clean it is. Her voice never wavers, and it remains consistent throughout. I’m not sure if this will get Mary to the finale, but this ought to play directly to her fanbase, and might even win her some new converts. Smart song choice by Blake.
-Christina loved the curtains, and loved the vocal even more. Blake, meanwhile, says that if anyone ever asks him what’s good in country music or how you can tell what’s good in country music, he’s going to tell them to YouTube what Mary Sarah just did right there. He calls it her best performance, and I can’t say I disagree with him there.
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: HANNAH HUSTON closes the show!
-As with everyone else, Hannah is stoked to be working with Pink. She’ll be singing “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge, and Pink and Pharrell both touch on how this is a begging song, so she’ll need to bring out that emotion. Pink says if Hannah has never been loved like this before, we should be able to feel that pain coming from her. They work on the song, and Pink absolutely loves it. And Hannah loves Pink right back. Interestingly, Pharrell states that Hannah has a glass body, because you can see all her emotions laid out. I don’t disagree, necessarily, although I think this will be the biggest challenge she’s faced so far, in terms of bringing emotion out of a song.
-I absolutely ADORE the arrangement. The a cappella opening, and the restrained piano verses. However, the song ends up following the original arrangement at about the halfway point, which would have been disappointing if Hannah had not been killing it so completely with her vocal. She sounds amazing, and she actually acts out the song with her body language. It’s like she’s telling a story, and that’s what I love about Hannah. I’d love to see her make the finale, because I feel like she definitely deserves to be there.
-Adam feels they take Hannah for granted on the show, since she’s been one of the most consistent artists from the beginning. He feels like she’s the “stealth assassin” of this show, killing it just one week before the finale. Blake is surprised to agree with Adam, although he says she hasn’t had a moment like that this entire season, so she chose the perfect moment at the perfect time. Pharrell also agrees with Adam, and talks about her journey throughout the show from preschool teacher to superstar who deserves to be here.
-And that’s a wrap! I have no idea who the Bottom 2 will be, but I’m fairly confident Alisan, Adam and Laith are in the finale. That fourth spot is very much up for grabs, but I think it’s really only between Hannah and Mary. And after that, I’d go with Hannah.
But what do you think? Which four artists will advance to the finale and which four artists will be eliminated? Sound off in the comments!
Until tomorrow night, thanks for hanging out!