The Voice 2016 – Live Blog and Recap – The Live Playoffs, Night 1 (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 2016, “The Live Playoffs, Night 1”! Coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Pharrell Williams and host Carson Daly set out to find the next great singer!
We’re finally live for the first night of the live playoffs! Tonight, Team Blake Shelton and Team Christina Aguilera will compete for a spot in the Top 12! These are currently the two frontrunner teams for Season 10, but will singers like Ryan Quinn, Adam Wakefield, Mary Sarah, Bryan Bautista and Alisan Porter live up to the hype?
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! Carson announces that voting begins tonight, while also declaring that each coach has one comeback artist they can bring back from the battles or the knockouts. So it’s a Top 24 rather than a Top 20 tonight. We’re kicking things off with a Team Blake artist…
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: PAXTON INGRAM opens the show!
-Paxton will be singing “How Deep Is Your Love” by Calvin Harris, and I’m honestly not feeling the song choice. But Blake seems confident in Paxton’s ability to pull it off. If nothing else, Paxton seems pretty confident in his own ability, even noting being recognized for his appearance on The Voice. I would hope he’d get recognized, at the very least. Otherwise, The Voice viewing figures are probably in trouble.
-Paxton’s version of “How Deep Is Your Love” is much better than I thought it would be. It’s much better as a performance than as a vocal, although it’s not as though the vocal is bad or anything. I think Paxton has great stage presence, getting his Michael Jackson on with some slick dance moves. The man has an insane amount of stage presence. He could go far just on sheer charisma alone.
-Christina is really excited after what Paxton just did. Pharrell congratulates Paxton for getting to do something he’s wanted to do for a long time. Adam thinks it’s refreshing to see someone have the time of his life onstage. “You made us feel good, man. That’s kinda the point of all this, isn’t it?” Adam states. Blake says we haven’t seen anyone command the stage like that on this show. He’s as confident Paxton will move on to next week as he is confident that Adam will do something stupid with his hair again before the season is up.
TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: RYAN QUINN is up next!
-Ryan talks about the “Quinnsanity” going on back in his hometown, noting that he’s barely been able to go anywhere without being recognized. He’ll be singing “I’m Not the Only One” by Sam Smith along with his guitar. He feels he lost the Knockout because he didn’t connect enough with the song and its lyrics, which is why he’s decided to tackle a song with greater meaning to him. Christina suggests he ditch the glasses for the live show, and Ryan is all for it. It’s a pretty good look for him, although he looks a bit “generic handsome guy” without them. Not that this would be a bad thing to most people.
-Ryan ditches the guitar for this performance, opting for a streamlined, stripped back version that’s kind of relaxed and chill. I love it, honestly. And Ryan’s vocal is downright gorgeous, at least when he’s not being drowned out by the band. Still, it’s easily Ryan’s best performance of the season, and I think it has a good shot of carrying him into the Top 12. At least, it should. Christina gives Ryan a standing ovation.
-Pharrell says you’re a hater if you don’t give it up for that performance. He says Ryan was tender, his control was amazing, and his entire performance simply felt gratifying. Adam thinks Christina has cracked the code with Ryan, saying he’s really thrived with the change in teams. He admits that Ryan is finally on the right team after all. Christina thanks Adam for allowing Ryan to be on her team, and then talks about how Ryan gave the song a whole new life.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: KATIE BASDEN is up next!
-Katie talks about being in Nashville at the same time as Blake’s most recent concert. Blake says she should have called, and she notes that her friends wanted her to. Katie will be singing “Georgia Rain” by Trisha Yearwood, and she’s quick to note how vital her mother’s career as a voice teacher was to her development as a singer. Blake and Katie work through some techniques on how to end the song, and it’s pretty impressive watching her hit those high notes, because she has an incredibly expressive face. Connecting with the song emotionally shouldn’t be a problem for Katie.
-I don’t love the song, but I like what Katie does with it. She’s got an impressive range, and a gorgeous, modern country tone. My only issue is that the song is so sleepy and forgettable that she’s likely to get lost in the shuffle. That said, watching Katie struggle with her emotions through the song might win her some votes, since it’s clear how much this track means to her (it reminds her of her family and formerly sick father, after all).
-Pharrell asks Katie if she thinks she was born to do this. She says yes, prompting Pharrell to ask what “this” is. Katie explains that it’s about performing and inspiring people through music. Pharrell applauds her, and says she should pursue being a storyteller, because she just gained a lot of fans with that. Adam says Katie sounds like she’s already a huge country star on her third record. Blake teases Adam for letting Katie go (prompting Adam to repeatedly tell him to shut up), before noting that country music is in good hands if artists like Katie are its future. He thinks the high note at the end was beautiful, and he’s feeling really good about this.
TEAM CHHRISTINA AGUILERA: KATA HAY is up next!
-Kata talks about how her dad is getting recognized by beautiful women at Walmart over Kata’s newfound celebrity. For her part, Kata reveals she’s a multi-time yodeling champion, which impresses Christina. However, she wants to bring some of that tremor out of Kata’s voice and emphasize control. Kata will be singing “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin (I never understood why they don’t just call it “Natural Woman” rather than putting six damn words in parentheses in front of it), and it’s a pretty good fit for her voice. Kata even admits that while she considers herself a country artist, she loves performing soul music.
-This is Kata’s most confident performance. She just completely owns that stage like few performers at this stage of the competition ever do. And her vocal is just SO on-point. This is probably my favorite version of this song on a singing show since Kelly Clarkson did it on American Idol season one. In a cute moment, Kata shouts out her father after the song ends. Right now. I’m assuming Team Christina will be Alisan, Ryan and Bryan. But now I think Kata HAS to be in her final three.
-Pharrell calls it a “super-spirited” performance, and notes how well she read the room when it came to modulating her performance, and assessing how much to give. He says his mind is spinning after that. Both Adam and Pharrell note they wouldn’t want any problems with someone as sassy as Kata. Adam is impressed with how everyone is stepping it up tonight, and thinks it’s great how artists like Kata are bringing so much to the table. Christina thought it was spirited, fiery, and exciting (prompting Pharrell to make a Mortal Kombat reference). She thinks the way Kata builds up a song is amazing, and thinks she should be proud of herself today.
-Back from break as Carson asks Christina about her comeback artist. Turns out, her pick is someone who was never even on her team. I didn’t even know they could do that! Anyway, Christina notes that she came very close to hitting her button for Nick, and she regrets not saving him. So now she’s going for it…
TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: NICK HAGELIN is up next!
-Nick talks about how hard it was to leave The Voice, but notes that a lot of people were inspired by his son’s struggle. His son is absolutely adorable when he learns his dad is going to be on The Voice again, wondering aloud what he’s going to wear for the live shows. In the rehearsal, Nick rehearsed “Stay” by Rihanna and Mikky Ekko, and his voice breaks pretty badly halfway through. But he and Christina work on it, and it’s starting to come out a bit more smoothly. Still, I’d have picked a different song after that happened the first time.
-Nick sounds pretty good here, delivering some outstanding falsetto to fill out the rougher notes of the verses. But the performance side of things leave a lot to be desired. His hand motions feel so choreographed and over-rehearsed that he just seems like a theater actor up there. But he can work on those things as the competition rolls on, since I had the same issues with Chris Jamison, and he became one of the most delightful surprises of his season. I’m not sure Nick will necessarily get another chance if we consider the sheer amount of talent on Team Christina, but he’s a guy I’m glad got a second chance.
-Pharrell feels Nick landed on the right time, as Christina is a “vocal wizard” who inspired him to come back and fight. He’s happy for Nick and his family, noting how they deserve this moment and many more. Adam is also happy to see Nick back, saying they’re all fans of Nick as a human being and an artist. However, he still feels Nick is in the process of improving, so he doesn’t know where the ceiling is for Nick. But he thinks that’s interesting, and he’s intrigued to see how much better Nick can get. Christina feels she and Nick were destined to work together, and this performance illustrated why she brought him back.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: JOE MAYE is up next!
-All of the pre-performance videos apparently feature the contestants talking about being recognized back at home, as Joe talks about how his customers have recognized him while he’s been tending bar. He’ll be singing “Long Train Runnin'” by The Doobie Brothers, and Blake is quick to warn him against going for too many of his vocal tricks during the chorus, since he doesn’t want people to think he’s doing runs because he can’t sustain the long notes of the chorus. A great point from Blake. For his part, Joe doesn’t want to be known solely as the guy who sang with Christina during the blind auditions, so he’s looking for a chance to set himself apart in the competition.
-Joe kind of proves Blake right over his concerns, as Joe can’t hit the sustained long notes of the chorus without either doing a run or breaking the note into three parts so he can catch his breath. Still, it’s a minor complaint for me when set against how good the vocal was, overall. I thought Joe really did a hell of a job here, making it seem like a James Brown song, between the dance moves and the ad libs. I dug it quite a bit.
-Christina misses having Joe on her team, but she thinks his fire is finally back, saying this was his best performance on the show. Blake is happy and thrilled that he was able to get Joe on his team. But he thinks that, after that performance, they actually have a shot at winning this thing. Hmmm, I wouldn’t go that far, but I did think this was a strong enough performance to potentially launch him into the Top 12.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: ADAM WAKEFIELD is up next!
-Adam reveals he’s good at beatboxing, and he displays the talent: it’s pretty good, honestly. However, this song choice will use none of it, as Blake has given him “Seven Spanish Angels” by Willie Nelson and Ray Charles. He wants Adam to sing a song that will allow him to bring out the uniqueness of what he does. The only problem, unfortunately, is that Adam drops a lot of words from the song. Adam admits it’s a bad habit of his, so he and Blake work on it. By the end of the rehearsal, Blake is really optimistic about Adam’s chances, going forward.
-This is a gorgeous, classic country vocal. I genuinely believe Adam is Blake’s best chance at winning this season. Granted, he still struggles with dropping words from the song, and not enunciating particularly well (I caught maybe 50% of what he was saying at any given time). But his voice is just so raw and unique that I think he deserves to go through to the Top 12, even though it’s already one of the most obvious results possible for Team Blake outside of Mary Sarah advancing. Because she’s totally going to the Top 12, right? (I certainly hope so. I’m a fan)
-Adam Levine admits that Adam Wakefield is his favorite artist in the competition because his voice is soulful and capable of transporting them. He says the only drawback is that Adam is on Blake’s team. But outside of that, he thinks Adam is great. Blake says there are very few men who have that soulfulness that Adam has, that extra something he can’t even quantify right now. I agree completely. Adam is perhaps the season’s biggest threat to Team Christina.
TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: TAMAR DAVIS is up next!
-Tamar talks about how emotional her father has been over all her success on the show. Tamar will be singing “Rise Up” by Andra Day, and Christina thinks this is a pivotal moment to showcase Tamar’s abilities. Tamar admits that, prior to The Voice, she’s never had anyone give her ad libs or anything of the sort. She feels Christina’s coaching is helping a lot. At the very least, it’s evident from how surprised she is by her own capabilities after Christina’s coaching. It’s interesting to see.
-I like Tamar, but I hated this performance. Between the gaudy pink dress and heels, to the pitchy vocal, this just did nothing for me. I think this was just the wrong song for her. She easily could have slayed on a song that didn’t require her to use her falsetto so much. But this was shaky all the way through, unfortunately. But hey, Christina gives this a standing ovation anyway.
-Pharrell thought the performance was precise, comparing it to a vocal elevator, since she took the audience on an up-and-down ride. He calls her “anointed” and says this is what she should be doing. Blake feels there’s just something about Tamar that makes him smile. He feels this is her best performance so far in the competition. Christina, meanwhile, notes that it was such a joyous performance. She thought it was a super-challenging song, which is why Tamar’s performance is all the more impressive.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: MARY SARAH is up next!
-Mary will be singing “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson, one of her late grandmother’s favorite songs. Mary fights back tears, and you can tell how much the song means to her during rehearsals. That said, Blake warns her against not having enough breath for the big notes. He thinks she can be great, but he just doesn’t want her to knock herself out.
-I don’t love the song, but Mary’s voice is so classic and pure. I just love that traditional country sound. She also has wonderful stage presence, acting out the song without seeming too over-rehearsed or pageant-like. She looks like a total star up there, and she carries herself like one too. She’s had better vocals than this, but I think this is the performance that best illustrates why she’s a total package artist, from the look to the stage presence to the vocal ability.
-Christina calls it a “super-solid” performance. Adam loves Mary, and says there were moments where the upper register made him like her even more. He thinks what she does is explosive, which is why he likes her. Blake thought it was a lot of fun, and notes that Mary is one of the fan favorites of the show, noting how everyone talks about her on his Twitter feed. He states that Mary’s heart is 100% country, and that she’s a hillbilly deep down, which is part of her charm. Mary is so adorable, you guys.
TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: BRYAN BAUTISTA is up next!
-Bryan has been getting a great reception back home ever since he was on the show, and it’s more than he ever expected, particularly after the hardship of being cut in Season 9. Bryan will be singing “Pillowtalk” by ZAYN, and he’s having a lot of trouble with it. Christina feels Bryan is getting more in his head than he’s ever been before, prompting her to wonder what happened to the confident guy she saw before. They lower the key, and Bryan improves exponentially, to where Christina isn’t particularly worried about him or his ability to pull this off.
-I love this song, and I like Bryan, but this is a bit rough in the early-going, despite an awesome, toned-down arrangement. It gets much better as it goes on though, and I think it illustrates the amount of potential Bryan has as an artist on Team Christina. Hell, his falsetto alone should get people turning their heads for this guy. That said, I think he needed this to be a homerun to find a spot in the Top 12, because Team Christina is the strongest team this season. I could already see Alisan, Kata, Ryan and Nick being frontrunners for the three spots, so it’s going to be tough for Bryan to earn a spot. That said, I wouldn’t be the least bit mad if Bryan got through. Seriously, the world needs more non-J-Lo Puerto Ricans on singing shows.
-Pharrell loved the suit on Bryan, since it changes the context of the song’s message. He also thought it was smart to lower the key, since it allowed him to go stratospheric. He feels Bryan has the talent to potentially win this thing. Adam thought Bryan absolutely murdered the song, leaving him speechless. Christina fans herself, while Blake declares that Bryan is smooth as all get out. Christina notes how the ladies were fanning themselves off, and Adam says the dues were too. Christina wasn’t surprised though, saying she knew he was something special since the live auditions.
-Back from break with the reveal of Blake’s comeback artist…
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: JUSTIN WHISNANT is up next!
-Justin cries when Blake tells him he’s back in the competition. Blake notes that he’s had the same hunger that Justin has in his eye, which is what makes him formidable in the competition. Justin will be singing “Here’s A Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)” by Travis Tritt, which Blake notes was the first song he ever sang with a plugged-in guitar. Blake sees loads of potential in Justin, while Justin feels thankful that Blake saw something in him that wasn’t finished yet. I’ll say one thing: Justin already sounds great on this song. Hopefully, it carries over into the live performance.
-I love this song. Come to think of it, a lot of my favorite country songs are by Travis Tritt. Justin does a solid job with the song, although he comes in and out of the pitch as the song rolls on. But he does some really interesting runs, and his tone remains as lovely as ever. So I’m far more positive with this song than not. Is it good enough to get him through to the Top 12? Well, I can say I wouldn’t be too upset if he advanced. I was puzzled when he was eliminated in the Knockouts, so I’m glad he’s back.
-Pharrell thought it was great, and congratulates Justin on his performance. Blake agrees with Pharrell about how weird it is to go from being home to being back on The Voice. But he thought Justin did a great job, and notes that Travis Tritt watches The Voice, which means he’ll likely be on Twitter later to praise how Justin did his song justice. Blake adds that Justin did Oklahoma proud. Yeah, I think Blake will totally save Justin if America doesn’t put him through. They’ve got that Oklahoma connection.
TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: ALISAN PORTER closes the show!
-Alisan will be singing “Cry Baby” by Janis Joplin, and she notes how a friend recorded her singing at karaoke one night, causing the video to go viral. That is, until her audition of “Blue Bayou” went viral. Alisan not only talks about what Janis means to her, but talks about how the story of the song reflects her relationship with her husband, since they were together for several years, then broke up for a few years, before getting back together. He was there since her first demo, and now he’s here with her for The Voice.
-Alisan’s voice has a smoky quality I never noticed before. I really dig it. I also love the messy, glammed-out Janis Joplin look she’s given here, since it illustrates she’s not just some sleepy folk singer. She has the look to match her awesome voice. This is the most current she’s seemed since the season started, and her voice is just badass here. I can’t get over how well she sang this, or how much she got into this, whipping her hair up and down and giving us the “Christina hands” on the runs. This gets a standing ovation, and it’s the most well-deserved standing O of the night.
-Adam is not surprised at all by how good that was, because he called that Alisan would win this show back during the blind auditions. Christina is overheated from the performance, fanning herself off. She says Alisan murdered that song, and adds that Alisan’s range, delivery, and accuracy is insane. “You deserve to go the entire way and then some,” Christina declares.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Alisan Porter Stuns With ‘Cry Baby’ on The Voice 2016 Live Playoffs (VIDEO)
-And that’s a wrap! What do you think of tonight’s show? Which three artists will advance from each team? Sound off in the comments!
Until tomorrow night, thanks for reading and hanging out!