The Voice 2016 – Live Blog and Recap – Live Top 9 Performances (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 2016, “Live Top 9 Performances”! Coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Pharrell Williams and host Carson Daly set out to find the next great singer!
The Top 9 perform live for a spot in next week’s semifinals! And we’ve got song spoilers for each contestant, thanks to iTunes!
Team Adam Levine
Laith Al-Saadi, “We’ve Got Tonight” by Bob Seger
Shalyah Fearing, “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke
Team Pharrell Williams
Hannah Huston, “Say You Love Me” by Jessie Ware
Team Christina Aguilera
Alisan Porter, “Cryin’” by Aerosmith
Bryan Bautista, “1 + 1” by Beyonce
Nick Hagelin, “Hold On We’re Going Home” by Drake
Team Blake Shelton
Adam Wakefield, “Love Has No Pride” by Linda Ronstadt
Mary Sarah, “My Church” by Maren Morris
Paxton Ingram, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston
For once, I like more of the song choices than I dislike. I think Adam chose well for both his artists, even if “A Change Is Gonna Come” is a bit on the nose, considering it’s the kind of song that encourages “holleration”. What ever happened to his vow last week that Shalyah would be singing “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige this week if she made it through? Could they not get the song cleared? Or did something else happen? Regardless, I think Laith’s choice is brilliant for his voice, as are the picks for Hannah, Bryan, and Nick. I worry about Alisan, if only because “Cryin'” is likely going to bring out her histrionic qualities at a time where I think she should be dialing it back. It’s an approach that looks like it might work out pretty well for Adam Wakefield, whose “Love Has No Pride” already sounds amazing on the iTunes preview. I’m interested to see how tonight plays out, which I couldn’t really say last week, considering some of the brutally awful song choices that show had. Optimism rules the day, this week!
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!
-Carson Daly opens the show by announcing that not only will Florida Georgia Line be performing tonight, but Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani will perform their new duet, “Go Ahead and Break My Heart”. But first, we’re kicking off the show with a member of Team Blake…
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: PAXTON INGRAM opens the show!
-Paxton will be singing “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston, another song choice that’s surprised Blake. Paxton, however, is wanting to show his artistic side by flipping all these different songs from female artists. Blake is impressed, although I’m not totally sold on the arrangement, from what we hear here. It’s like a cross between Sam Smith’s version and MacKenzie Bourg’s. Hopefully, it sounds better live. Regardless, I expect Paxton will deliver a solid vocal, if nothing else.
-I can appreciate what Paxton was going for with the arrangement, and the driving piano keys in the background. But this didn’t really do anything for me. There just aren’t many things you can do with this thing that will keep it from sounded dated, so while I actually did think the added percussion was a smart choice, the song still felt a bit flat. There’s a joy and vibrancy to Whitney’s version that’s always lacking in these attempts to make it a self-serious song. This song really isn’t meant to be a thinker, or some emotional ballad. If you’re going to do the song, have fun with it. Otherwise, pick something else. With that said, Paxton sounds great. But that’s not really all that surprising, at this point. Nor is it that shocking that he’s going first tonight, since I think he’s the latest contestant the producers are calling the bus for.
-Christina loves it, and recalls seeing him during rehearsals, saying it reminded her of her first grade talent show (for some reason). She then calls it the most “rejoiceful” version of the song she’s ever heard. Pharrell thought the key change was brilliant, and gives it up for both Paxton and Paul Mirkovitch. Adam calls Paxton one of the most infectious performers in the competition. Blake, meanwhile, feels Paxton is going up one notch higher every single week. He thinks it’s amazing how Paxton went from being his save during the live playoffs to making it deep into the competition. “That’s all you,” Blake says.
-As we head to break, Carson announces that PINK will be joining the coaches next week to help mentor the final eight. We then get a preview clip of her new single from the soundtrack to Alice Through the Looking Glass. Man, I’ve missed Pink. Why couldn’t we have gotten her as the fourth coach for next season rather than Miley?
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: MARY SARAH is up next!
-I guess to make up for nearly all of Team Blake being saved for the back half of last week’s show, we’re going to go through 2/3 of them in the first twenty minutes this week. Mary will be singing “My Church” by Maren Morris, a track with which she really identifies since the song is about how driving in your car with the radio up can be a holy experience. She’s done the exact same thing during hard times, so she gets where the song is coming from. It’s also the kind of song she’s wanted to do for a while now. Initially, Mary is playing a guitar for the song, but Blake prefers her without the guitar, so she happily obliges him. He can’t wait to buy her first album, but hey, let’s just get through this competition first.
-This was surprisingly great, not because Mary isn’t a great singer. She is. Rather, it’s surprising due to how contemporary this all feels. Hell, Mary was even doing some grinding-style body rolls while performing. This totally felt like a Carrie Underwood performance, and I mean that in the best possible way. I doubt it’s going to be the most memorable performance by the end of the night, but I think this will play right to Mary’s fanbase. She’s a threat I feel some people are overlooking. She IS a pretty, young, blonde girl on Team Blake, after all. That means “finalist” is practically written all over her. Granted, there are a bunch of other people I’d put ahead of her, but I feel like all bets are off when it’s Team Blake.
-Pharrell thinks Mary did a good job, and thought Blake’s suggestion about getting rid of the guitar was a smart move, since it allowed her to have more freedom up onstage. He calls it her best connection to any song she’s done so far. He says she had so much connection that he actually felt like it was her record. Adam agrees, saying it was like Mary finally found her lane. He thinks that, as we near the end of the season, we need to feel that each artist is singing his or her own song, even though they’re doing covers. Blake is over-the-moon about the performance, and recalls telling the media that tonight would be Mary’s moment on the show. He says anyone who knows anything about music knows what just happened up there on that stage.
TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: NICK HAGELIN is up next!
-Nick talks about how he’s gone through it all, from being eliminated to being brought back, and being saved by America to being instantly saved by America, so all he can do now is just be himself. He’ll be singing “Hold On We’re Going Home” by Drake, noting how he and his wife had a few years there where they weren’t sure how much longer they could stay together. But they worked through it, and now they’re stronger than ever. This song is an embodiment of them getting back to that happy place in their relationship. Interestingly, Nick notes how nervous he was in last week’s sing-off, until Pharrell hyped him up by signaling “You got this.” Might lend a little credence to Daniel Passino’s assertion that Pharrell didn’t really fight for him, and that he preferred to see Nick stick around.
-In rehearsals, Nick was singing this while playing guitar, and I don’t know why they didn’t have him play it for the whole live performance, since I think the singer/songwriter vibe could be a good lane for him. Regardless, I thought this was one of Nick’s better performances, even if the song title runs the risk of being prophetic. Nick’s falsetto was stronger here than it’s ever been, and his stage presence was on-point. Hell, Nick even dances!
-Pharrell loves Nick’s full chest voice, since he tends to sing in his head voice a lot. But he feels Nick is an accomplished performer, praising him for the dance moves and his connection with the audience, as well as his instincts in recognizing when to step it up. Adam agrees, saying he can do things Blake can’t, while adding that it’s important for artists to step up in this stage of the competition. Christina agrees with what the coaches have said, and she likes that they enjoyed Nick’s dancing, and how he put his own little swagger to the song. Why is Christina dressed like Psylocke tonight? I mean, I’m not complaining, but it’s kind of a random look for her.
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: HANNAH HUSTON is up next!
-Hannah comes in wearing a stunning little pink dress, and she geeks out with Pharrell since he’s coincidentally wearing a matching pink beanie. Hannah will be singing “Say You Love Me” by Jessie Ware, which is an amazing song choice for her. I don’t love how the chorus sounds at first, but she and Pharrell work it out, and he adds in some encouraging words. Their friendship is so unbelievably sweet, and it’s the cutest coach pairing of the season, to me. Because every season has that one big Coach/Contestant friendship.
-Hannah sounds DIVINE here. Seriously, I adore this. She finesses the chorus so that she doesn’t have to strain to hit the notes, while delivering velvety smooth verses. She brings out the grit for the bridge of the song, just in time for the choir of backup singers to join her onstage. This is simply terrific, to such an extent that I might actually like it as much as the original. If it were up to me, Hannah would definitely be in the Top 4, much less the Top 8 next week. Pharrell is standing up for the entire performance, by the way, and applauds her with a standing ovation at the end.
-Blake calls it his favorite performance from Hannah so far, and then praises her superstar look. Christina agrees with Blake, saying it was the best she’s seen her onstage. She felt Hannah was comfortable and in her zone, and adds it was a perfect balance of tenderness and grit. Pharrell is beaming, calling the performance “amazing”, and opting to talk to America about how Hannah’s intentions came through in her song. “America, this is a preschool teacher who only performs once or twice a year!” he declares, pleading with them to vote her through to next week. At the very least, I’m buying this single on iTunes.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Hannah Huston Delivers Stunning ‘Say You Love Me’ on The Voice 2016 (VIDEO)
FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE performs their new single, “Holy”!
-Florida Georgia Line are here to perform their new single, a ballad titled “Holy”. It’s pretty good, if I’m being honest. Neither guy is the most dynamic singer in the world, but they’re good at crafting a country song that simply sounds like a hit. And I imagine this is another song that will do well on the country charts. If nothing else, the chorus to this song is going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the night.
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: SHALYAH FEARING is up next!
-Shalyah will be singing “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, a song her grandmother used to sing to her as a girl. However, Shalyah feels she has big shoes to fill, not only considering the number of iconic artists who’ve performed it before, but also considering the message behind the song. But Adam reminds her this song isn’t about sounding perfect, it’s about conveying a message. If Shalyah can deliver the emotion and power of the song, then she’ll be just fine. Still, some might argue she’s a bit young for this song, even if her voice isn’t. I suppose we’ll see.
-Shalyah’s a cappella opening is GORGEOUS, and the addition of a complete backing string ensemble is a stroke of genius. What’s interesting is that Adam told her it didn’t need to sound flawless if she succeeded in connecting with the emotion of the song, and yet, I thought this was the closest to flawless that any of her vocals has ever come. And I say that as someone who’s been pretty impressed with her in the past. Her grit during the bridge is outstanding. I mean, she just got DIRTY with it. I really enjoyed this.
-Blake is rendered virtually speechless, saying that performance is bringing her back to her amazing playoff moment, and notes she’s getting better and better each week. He then sends a quick shoutout to Oklahoma, offering thoughts and prayers. Christina echoes Blake’s sentiment about how exceptional Shalyah just was, while Adam notes that “nobody means it more than Shalyah does,” adding that she feels everything she sings, to an exceptional degree. He notes that he loves her for that.
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: LAITH AL-SAADI is up next!
-Laith will be singing “We’ve Got Tonight” by Bob Seger, which is an AMAZING song choice for him. Adam even admits he’s wanted someone to do this song on the show for a long time, but there just hasn’t been artist who’s right for it yet. Laith is just the man for the job here, however. He sounds terrific in rehearsals, but something is missing. Adam then suggests a little light percussion, and it adds a necessary amount of drama to the song. This is why I love watching the coaching sessions, because there’s genuine insight here on how to construct a song and performance. I love it.
-This is easily Laith’s best vocal in the competition, in my opinion. This was delicate but still possessed Laith’s trademark bluesy soul. He even dirtied it up a bit towards the end, letting the growl and rasp of his voice convey the passion behind the song’s message. I also loved seeing Laith at a piano, because it shows another side to his musicianship. Everything about this was restrained, subtle and beautiful. I don’t blame his girlfriend for tearing up in the audience. Adam gives Laith a standing ovation at the end of the performance.
-Pharrell says Laith’s genre is “classic rock blues,” all one genre. He feels America should vote Laith through because it’s their chance to support the guy they knew in high school who loved rock-and-roll, and is finally here, accomplishing just that. Pharrell then jokes that they need to get metronomes for the audience because they can’t keep rhythm, with Adam adding they’re the absolute worst clappers ever. In a hilarious moment, Adam and Pharrell mimic the crowd by pretending to catch mosquitoes. Adam feels Laith embodies a quality that is sorely lacking in the music industry, and if it’s as important to the viewers at home as it is to him, America should vote to keep him around. You know, I’ve doubted Laith in the past (although I’ve never really doubted he’d make the final four), but this made me a real believer in his possible chances at a major upset.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Laith Al-Saadi Has Moment With ‘We’ve Got Tonight’ on The Voice 2016 (VIDEO)
BLAKE SHELTON AND GWEN STEFANI perform their new duet, “Go Ahead and Break My Heart”
-You know, a lot of people in the media are still on about how the Blake/Gwen relationship makes no sense, but watching these two together onstage, it makes all the sense in the world. From the way they look at each other, I’m actually surprised people didn’t catch onto it sooner. But I digress. I’m not entirely sure Gwen’s voice is the right match for a country duet, but I think the song is pretty catchy. It certainly sounds radio-ready, so I’ll be interested to see its chart performance. If nothing else, I enjoyed watching these two lovebirds have a moment onstage.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: ADAM WAKEFIELD is up next!
-Adam talks about how much it means for him to be in the Top 9, and how badly he wants to keep advancing in the competition, since each week he survives is one week closer to him getting to do this for the rest of his life. He’ll be singing “Love Has No Pride” by Linda Ronstadt at the piano, which might be a bit of a risk since he sat at the piano last week. But Adam’s voice is so damn incredible, I’m not entirely sure I care, one way or the other. This already sounds like it could be a real moment for Adam.
-This is one of the true moments of the season, as Adam just absolutely TEARS into this song. It’s such a gorgeous, gritty, soulful vocal, and while I’m not at all surprised he was able to accomplish this, I’m shocked by how deeply moved I was. This really got to me, in the best possible way. And that run at the end? Ugh, I absolutely adore Adam, and he might just be my frontrunner now, for as much as I like Alisan. Sorry to keep comparing them each week, but this really is a two-horse race, with Laith as the potential spoiler. Of course, if I’m wrong, I’ll happily eat crow. And by “crow”, I mean an apple pie or something.
-Christina loves the performance, and makes an allusion to something she can’t tell him on-camera. But Blake asks if it’s okay if he tells Adam later. Either way, the awkwardness quickly passes, and Blake is quick to congratulate Adam on his best performance of the season. “I’ll see you in the finale,” Blake declares.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Adam Wakefield Nails ‘Love Has No Pride’ on The Voice 2016 (VIDEO)
TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: ALISAN PORTER is up next!
-Alisan’s daughter sings her ABC’s with Christina, in an adorable moment. Alisan will be singing “Cryin'” by Aerosmith, and although the rehearsal does nothing to alleviate my concerns that this might end up being too shouty a song for her, I’m kind of loving the verses. I’m also loving the little choices Alisan and Christina are making with the arrangement, such as Alisan holding out certain notes. Sure, the big note is the obvious one, since it was the same big note Steven Tyler hit towards the end of the song, just longer. But I think Alisan’s protracted take on the note is impressive. In other news, Alisan is incredibly proud to have been #6 on iTunes last week, especially considering it was a chart dominated by Beyonce. I’d say that’s something to be REALLY proud about.
-Alisan sounds great here. I think the reason she gets all these bombastic songs is because she’s the only person in the competition with a big enough voice not to be completely and utterly drowned out by the band. Other artists likely would have had a problem getting through this song without being engulfed by the sheer volume and bombast of the backing band. But Alisan? Not so much. In fact, she thrives in this environment, working the stage like a true rocker, from going shoulder-to-shoulder with the guitarist to whipping her hair back and forth amid giant stacks of smoke while the video screen behind her simulates explosions in time with each of her notes. And that protracted note towards the end? KILLER. This is one of my favorite Alisan performances of the season. Was it surprising? Not at all. But I loved it, just the same.
-Pharrell says Alisan killed the misconception that mothers can’t do this. She’s a mother capable of inspiring other mothers. Christina thanks Pharrell for that opinion, and notes that it’s not easy to be a mother while pursuing your dreams. She says Alisan is a superstar, and ends by declaring, “I love you so much!”
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Alisan Porter Outdoes Steven Tyler With ‘Cryin’ on The Voice 2016 (VIDEO)
TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: BRYAN BAUTISTA closes the show!
-Bryan says he’s honored to be working with someone of Christina’s caliber, and then notes how freeing it was to sing in a different language last week. He and Christina celebrate the fact that he had the No. 1 song on the Latin charts on iTunes last week. The outpouring of support from the Latin community meant a lot to Bryan, and it shows. He’ll be singing “1+1” by Beyonce, and while Bryan admits that he grew up having his doubts, he feels he’s truly found himself on this show. You know, I expected Bryan would be one of the next artists at risk for elimination, but he has an innate likability. And he’s been growing exponentially each week, to where it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that he could find himself in the finale. Stranger things have happened. Hell, I’m still shocked Amy Vachal went home when she did last season.
-This is a really good song choice for Bryan, allowing him to simply stand there with the mic and deliver a soulful, passionate ballad. It’s a song that highlights the versatility and nuance of his vocals, from his powerful chest voice to his impeccable falsetto. My only issue is when he decides to start roaming the stage, because he gets a bit carried away with performing the song literally (such as pantomiming pulling out a gun on the “I don’t know much about guns” line). I also feel like he gets so lost in the theatricality of the performance that it makes him go sharp sometimes. But those moments were very few, and far between. He ends the performance on his knees, just belting out in what amounts to one of his best moments in the competition, if not his best altogether. This performance reminded me of something The Weeknd might do. I’m still not convinced he has any hope of making the finale, but I’m beyond thrilled to see a fellow Puerto Rican make his mark in the competition like this.
-Adam says Bryan has the most impressive ability to sound effortless in his upper register, more so than any other contestant this season. He thinks the performance was really beautiful. Lastly, Christina declares the performance amazing, and pleads with Beyonce to do a duet with Bryan. “You just put magic on that record,” Christina tells Bryan, closing by trying to get a “#BryanBeyonce” hashtag trending. I mean, it probably WOULD be an amazing duet, honestly.
-And that’s a wrap! Personally, I think the Bottom 2 sing-off will be between Nick and Paxton, with Nick going home, since the pattern of this season has been that the person who survived the Bottom 2 one week goes home the next. But there have been plenty of artists who’ve survived multiple weeks in the Bottom 2, so I guess we’ll see. What do you think? What were your favorite performances of the night? And who do you think will land in the Bottom 2? Which artist do you think will go home? Sound off in the comments!
Until tomorrow night, thanks for reading and hanging out!