The Voice 8 – Live Blog and Recap – Live Top 12 Performances (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 8, “Live Top 12 Performances”! 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, the Top 12 hit the stage for the first time. But what will the finalists sing? Check out the song spoilers with iTunes links below:
Team Adam Levine
Joshua Davis, “America” by Simon and Garfunkel (iTunes)
Brian Johnson, “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You” by Sting (iTunes)
Deanna Johnson, “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong United (iTunes)
Team Christina Aguilera
India Carney, “Take Me to Church” by Hozier (iTunes)
Kimberly Nichole, “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals (iTunes)
Rob Taylor, “I Put a Spell On You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (iTunes)
Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be posting results, videos, commentary, and more as the night rolls on.
Let’s get this show on the road!
-We open with the coaches being introduced, and Carson saying that country music superstar REBA is here. Which prompts me to wonder just what happened to the “McEntire” side of things.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: HANNAH KIRBY opens the show!
-Hannah flips out when she sees Reba, and Blake loves her enthusiasm. He’s giving her “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks because it’s a storytelling song, and it’ll provide Hannah the opportunity to show off her skills. Hannah’s mother loves Reba, and she goes even crazier than Hannah upon meeting her, going as far as to say she’ll need to get a lock of Reba’s hair. Hannah pleading with her mother not to be creepy is super-endearing, and her personality might be enough to save her if she underwhelms. But I don’t think she will, because this song sounds perfect for her voice.
-Hannah doesn’t deliver as much of her crazy dance moves, but I’d go as far as to argue this is her best vocal. It shows a rocker edge to her that helps illustrate why Blake saved her over Sarah Potenza last week. I was really impressed by this, which is not to say I haven’t been impressed by Hannah before. But this was something far beyond what she’s delivered before, in a good way. Pharrell gives her a standing O.
-Pharrell feels America will finally understand her after that. Adam, meanwhile, says that not enough people focus on what an amazing singer Hannah is. “You’re amazing, both with performing and singing. You did a really amazing job,” he tells her. Blake tells her that she set the bar really high for the other singers tonight, adding that he doesn’t know how she could possibly be a better vocalist than she already is. Aaaand we skip over Christina, not that I’m complaining. She tends to ramble a lot.
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: BRIAN JOHNSON is up next!
-Brian is thrilled to meet Reba, saying it’s like meeting a childhood idol. However, his focus is on delivering his best vocal, since this is the second time Adam has saved him, and he doesn’t want to let Adam down. He’ll be singing “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You” by Sting, but Adam and Reba aren’t feeling it. Reba asks him to tap into feelings of faithlessness, drawing on how he quit his job back home to focus on being here. The vocal improves, although I honestly thought it was a perfectly fine vocal before. I mean, I don’t like the song choice, since it’s very much a product of the 1990s. It was released in 1993, and it sounds that way. The least he could do is change it up and go with an acoustic arrangement, but it doesn’t look like that’s where they’re headed with this.
-Brian sounds good, but once again, this sounds like such a dated song. I don’t need everyone to sing current songs, but I do need people to offer some kind of idea of where they’ll fit in the music industry. I love Brian’s voice and thought he gave a great vocal here, but I think Adam is doing him a disservice with a song choice like this.
-Blake loved Brian on that, and says his voice was so big it damn near distorted the microphone. Christina was impressed, saying he overcome the struggles she heard in the rehearsals by the time he came onstage. She feels he’s making greater and greater strides every time she sees him. Adam, meanwhile, notes that singing Sting is hard, but says he did an amazing job delivering on a very demanding vocal. He then thanks Christina for noticing that he conquered his rehearsal issues, and once again praises Brian for doing his homework.
TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: INDIA CARNEY is up next!
-India looks up to Reba, calling her a major inspiration to female artists. Christina is challenging India with “Take Me To Church,” which Reba loves, since she always likes when a woman takes on a male vocal. Christina feels India is such a clean technical singer, but wants her to take on a different persona. Reba suggests dirtying it up a bit, and India agrees that she’ll need to let go of her perfectionist side. Of course, Christina has to show off by throwing in a few runs to show her how she should sound, and India goes on to mimic them exactly, essentially defeating the purpose of crafting your own ad-libs. But I think she’ll be fine here, for the most part.
-For me, this was India’s weakest vocal but her best performance, if that makes any sense. She felt like a current star, and someone who could believably top the charts. Of course, there were some foibles here and there, such as when she puts out her arm to the crowd and has trouble getting them to give it back, causing her to go hoarse on a note in the process. But I don’t really blame her for that. What I do dock her for is the amount of smiling on what should be a not-so-happy song. But now it just feels like I’m splitting hairs. I like India, and I think she’ll be fine in the voting this week.
-Pharrell is impressed, of course, while Adam notes that India very clearly has fans. He says this is the hardest thing to accomplish as a singer, to have people willing to follow you and love you. Blake says he was ready to be taken to church with that performance, while Christina says she’s always excited to see what India does with her notes after she leaves rehearsals. She calls it great, noting that it was a different dimension for her, and showing a side of her we haven’t seen yet. I agree. The vocal was off, but the performance was spot on.
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: MIA Z is up next!
-Mia never expected to be in the Top 12, saying she was just in high school, and cosmetology school. But now she’s a girl living her dreams. Pharrell gives Mia “Miss You” by The Rolling Stones, which continues in her smoky, bluesy, R&B trajectory. She sounds decent in rehearsals, but Reba doesn’t like it, saying she can’t actually understand a word Mia is saying. Pharrell says over-enunciating can be just as bad as not enunciating enough. Mia vows to work on pronouncing her words better, while Pharrell encourages her to hit a falsetto towards the end that will make glass crack and dolphins come to her. She gives him a sample and…I actually find it kind of annoying. Sort of like Ariana Grande’s piercing falsetto towards the end of “The Way”. I know some people love it, but I’ve always found that kind of Mariah Carey falsetto obnoxious.
-Mia sounds absolutely stellar here. She’s got a tone that is far more mature than her years would suggest. She just seems ready for the music industry right now. I mean, I don’t love the falsetto at the end, but I don’t think I was ever going to. Still, Mia delivered one hell of a vocal here, and sold the song with her rhythm and stage presence.
-Adam loved it, respecting the choices she and Pharrell made together. Blake loves how inventive Mia is, saying he liked the idea to have her switch to the whistle tone since she has the ability to do something only a handful of vocalists can. Christina is always curious to see what Mia brings to the table, agreeing with Blake that Mia is an inventive singer. She feels the sky is the limit with Mia, and felt this was a perfect choice for her. Pharrell asks Mia if she had a good time, and she responds, “Yeah! It was a lot of fun.” Pharrell is glad, but he’s even happier that she delivered a controlled performance, not giving the audience too much too soon. I hope Mia Z lasts until at least Top 6. This competition would be far less interesting without her, I think.
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: DEANNA JOHNSON is up next!
-Deanna is bowled over to meet Deanna Johnson, as I swear this girl gets prettier every time the camera finds her. Reba and Deanna exchange stories about who comes from the smallest hometown. Deanna’s sarcastic pride in her town finally getting a Dollar General and a Hardee’s is adorable. Adam has given her “Oceans” by Hillsong United, but Reba can immediately tell that Deanna isn’t enjoying the performance. Deanna says she loves singing Christian music, but she worries about doing too much of the same thing. Adam says a performance is less about a song’s genre and more about how it makes people feel. This helps Deanna a lot, although she’s still a bit flustered to be singing in front of Reba McEntire. Hell, I’m flummoxed just to be looking at Deanna on my TV screen. Man alive, this girl is ridiculous.
-Deanna sounds a lot like Cher here. It’s far from her best vocal, but I don’t think it’s bad either. It’s somewhere in the middle, for me. But she’s just so stunning that I find myself overlooking a lot of it. Seriously, this is actually kind of embarrassing how dazzled I am by her. It wasn’t a great performance, but there’s just a certain, ineffable star quality that she’s got. Yes, part of it is that she’s gorgeous, but the other side of it is in how she carries herself.
-Blake could barely hear her in the first few notes of the song, but feels she picked it up as the song continued. Christina agrees, saying that she isn’t sure if there are technical difficulties or what, but she does add that Deanna was able to finish strong. Pharrell talks about how impressed he is with Deanna, and how she’s grown from a four-chair turner to a nervous performer to a confident star. Adam, meanwhile, notes an adorable moment in which Deanna realized she was doing a good job once the audience reacted to one of her big notes towards the end. He says it was a bummer that technical difficulties made her difficult to hear, but he feels she did a good job once she stepped forward and started projecting.
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: SAWYER FREDERICKS is up next!
-Sawyer is thrilled to have been voted through, and says that last week was huge for him, since his father got to come and see him sing. It meant a lot to him since his father is in charge of 88 acres, and can’t always afford to take time off. Pharrell wishes Sawyer a happy belated birthday, while Reba notes that they both share the same astrological sign. Sawyer will be singing “Imagine” by John Lennon, and Reba is impressed with the power of his voice, but feels he needs to smile more, considering it’s a song of hope. Pharrell says Sawyer’s superpower is his ability to light people up. So…The Human Torch then? Ohhhh…he means from the inside.
-Yeah, Sawyer’s winning this thing. This was a very subdued vocal for the first half, but I agree with Reba’s assessment of just how much power Sawyer’s voice has. On the one hand, his voice vanishes for a moment while going for a falsetto note. On the other hand, it was a perfect choice for the song itself, whether he intended to do it or not, since it gave the sense of an emotional investment that helped the song immensely. I really enjoyed this.
-Adam is floored that Sawyer can fill the room with his voice like that at only 16. “Your ability to do that transcends any sort of coaching,” Adam says. Blake is also taken aback, and says ALMOST THE EXACT SAME THING I DID about Sawyer’s voice vanishing on that high note! I’m telling you, man, me and Blake are like this (you can’t see it, but my fingers are centimeters apart). Christina loves that Sawyer has a way of making mistakes like his feel natural, like they were meant to happen. Pharrell adds his praise, but either the audio levels on my TV are off, or the crowd is so enthusiastic for this kid that Pharrell can barely get a word in edgewise. Both are equally plausible.
TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: ROB TAYLOR is up next!
-Christina explains that she saved Rob because she sees potential in him, and feels if he taps into that potential, the sky is the limit. He’ll be singing “I Put a Spell On You,” and Christina thinks it’s an ideal song choice for him. Reba seems to as well, saying she loves cover songs like this so much she did an entire album of them. They both seem to think Rob could really be something special, and Christina feels he could knock it out of the ballpark. I maintain that Rob is really one to watch in this competition.
-Neck-and-neck with Sawyer for best of the night so far. Rob just laces into the track with a passion and ferocity that I think it’s going to be difficult for any of the other contestants to match. He’s got a powerful chest voice, but also a falsetto that’s practically impossible to match, at least for the other 11 artists. Seriously, the way he ended this song? INSANITY. This guy is special.
-Pharrell says Rob’s friends and family back home and in the audience should be very proud of him. He calls it a “masterful” performance, saying he made the stage his own. Adam can’t guarantee that Rob will win the race, but he can say that Rob just pulled ahead in the race to win The Voice. Christina says she’s speechless. She says it’s not only an exciting performance, it’s the kind of vocal she keeps coming back to The Voice for. She couldn’t be happier with how that turned out, and honestly, I don’t blame her. That was awesome.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: COREY KENT WHITE is up next!
-Corey is honored to meet Reba, calling her the “Queen of Country Music”. He wonders what he did to deserve all this good fortune, and Blake responds, “You picked me!” Blake has given him “Why” by Jason Aldean to show off more of a bad boy vibe, since he feels Corey has only been singing certain types of songs, and he needs to show versatility. He tells Corey that he needs to tackle these lyrics like he’s mad at himself, and it really does help the vocal, as does Reba’s advice that he should keep his eyes open more often (if only for benefit of the ladies in the audience). In a cute moment, Corey says this rehearsal feels a lot like family, noting he’s got his Uncle Blake and his “Good Aunt Reba.” Of course, Blake notes he’s learning a lot from Reba himself, but either way, it all leads to a big group hug that’s fairly endearing.
-I don’t think this communicated the “bad boy” vibe Blake was aiming for, but it’s still a damn good performance. For me, Corey is probably the only person who can stop Sawyer from winning this season. And really, he’s got all the hallmarks of a popular Voice contestant, from good looks and humility, to some really solid talent. Seriously, there aren’t many vocalists in the competition who are as consistent as Corey.
-Christina liked it, noting how he was singing to the ladies. Meanwhile, Adam hopes Corey takes this the right way, but says he feels Corey is “just on the precipice of something really impactful,” like he’s almost there but not quite. Blake somewhat agrees, saying Corey didn’t sing perfectly but he always delivers the lyric perfectly. He’s invested in each song, and he feels that’s why Corey is still here. He thinks people believe in him, and his emotional connection makes him a threat to win this show. I agree wholeheartedly, and I do think Corey has a lot more in him than he’s shown.
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: KORYN HAWTHORNE is up next!
-Koryn is stoked to meet Reba, feeling she is a huge role model to female singers. She thanks Pharrell for saving her, and then explains that this is why she picked “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson: America didn’t vote her through, but it didn’t kill her, it made her stronger. Koryn has some ideas for the song, and Pharrell is more than happy to hear them, noting that he loves when an artist knows what she wants. Reba suggests excising one lyric that she feels is too low in Koryn’s register, but other than that, they’re pretty happy with what Koryn is doing. Reba, in particular, thinks Kelly is going to love it. Kelly is also apparently Reba’s daughter-in-law? Man, news to me. I’m slippin’.
-Koryn does a fine job here, delivering a solid, consistent vocal. However, the band was awfully loud in places. I hate it when singers have to fight the band to be heard, but the audio setup on this show has always been a mess. Regardless, Koryn really did sell the determination and ferocity of the song. I don’t know how far she’ll go, but I’m more than happy to have her here, since I think she’s been really underrated throughout this competition.
-Blake said with that performance, Koryn seemed almost pissed that she had to be saved by America. He loved the fire and passion she showed, and welcomes her to the Top 10. Christina thought Koryn killed it, and loves how she rearranged the song. She says she came out tonight not as Koryn, but as Tina Turner, which I guess is a compliment, although I’d rather be praised for my own artistry and not aping someone else. I didn’t get Tina Turner from Koryn’s performance at all. Pharrell, for his part, wants “everyone in the Christian world, the gospel world, and anyone that needs any kind of inspiration to vote for this girl.” Pharrell then gives her a big hug on the way out.
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: JOSHUA DAVIS is up next!
-Joshua is thrilled about America voting him through, as this suggests a wider audience for his style of music than he expected. Joshua will be singing “America” by Simon and Garfunkel, feeling it sums up a lot of his journey, his nationwide travels, and everything he’s learned from the wide variety of people he’s had the pleasure of encountering on the way. Adam suggests Joshua should ditch the guitar for this one, and he chooses to trust Adam on this one. Reba agrees with the decision, saying that a guitar can be a bit of a safety crutch, and putting the guitar down could force him out of his comfort zone, since such a practiced musician ends up feeling naked without it. Adam trusts in Joshua though, feeling he could really win this thing, and noting that they both share a lot of similarities. I do think Joshua is a dark horse in this competition, although I can’t pinpoint why. I just wouldn’t be all that surprised if he won.
-This is my favorite Joshua performance so far. Part of it is that I love this song, but just as much is centered on how tender Joshua’s vocal is. He puts some power in there when necessary, and it results in a very well-balanced vocal. He’s a compelling performer, even while standing still. I can’t even express how much I loved this. I’d still rank it behind Sawyer and Rob overall for the night, but I think this might end up being the song I listen to the most after the show is over. I’m literally itching to get on iTunes to snatch this.
-Blake admits, to the shock of Joshua and the coaches, that he doesn’t actually know that song. But he loves Joshua’s passion, saying his style makes it seem as though he’s written every song he performs. Christina praises Joshua for stepping outside of his comfort zone by getting rid of the guitar, calling it really refreshing. “You kind of took me back to the movie ‘Almost Famous’,” she says, winning some brownie points with me. Pharrell thought it was one of Joshua’s best, and says his performance really communicated the intention of the song and its lyrics. Adam feels his duty as a coach is to be true to what his contestant wants, and so he put strategy aside with Joshua, since the only way Joshua is going to succeed is if he loves what he’s doing. He feels Joshua was simply perfect tonight.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: MEGHAN LINSEY is up next!
-Meghan will be singing “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town, and Blake thinks this is a great choice for Meghan’s soul-leaning country spirit. For her part, Meghan is stunned to meet Reba, recalling that she’s been obsessed with her since she was a kid. When she got her first birthday check from her grandmother, the first thing she bought was a Reba album, and not even because of the music, but rather because of her hair. But that grew into a love for Reba’s music, and she credits Reba with inspiring her to pursue music, saying she’s an inspiration to women everywhere. During rehearsals, Reba suggests a contrast between edginess and softness, and Blake loves having that female perspective here to help him in his coaching. But Meghan isn’t surprised Reba is so on-point, calling her one of music’s best storytellers. You know, she’s not wrong.
-Man, this has been a solid night, because this was my favorite Meghan performance of the competition. There wasn’t a single false note in this. More than any other artist tonight, this really felt like her own song, and not a cover song. I could hear her version on the radio right now. Seriously, I liked this far more than the original, and I like the original quite a bit. This was a terrific job by Meghan.
-Pharrell says Meghan is living the dream, noting how rewarding it is to see her get her second chance and nail it. “You’re right where you needed to be. You did it,” he tells her. Adam says the only thing he doesn’t like about Meghan is that she’s on Blake’s team. He calls her amazing, and tells her it was a great song choice for her. “I’m sad that I’m not a part of it. I hate you Blake,” he adds. Blake, meanwhile, feels that Meghan just had her breakout moment, connecting with that song in a way that even he didn’t know she was capable of.
TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: KIMBERLY NICHOLE closes the show!
-Kimberly finds it surreal to be in the same room with both Christina Aguilera and Reba McEntire. She’ll be singing “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals, and Reba loves the song choice, saying it’s a song she’d love to record some day. Kimberly feels this is a continuation of what she showed America last week with her showstopping performance of “What’s Up”. Kimberly chooses to stand instead of sitting down, since she feels she has more power standing up, although I don’t know why sitting down would ever be an option on a song like this, unless you’re doing a subdued piano version. Christina feels Kimberly IS the “House of the Rising Sun,” saying she’s very much on the rise.
-This was a totally BADASS performance. She just owned the vocal, and owned the stage every bit as much. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention just how awesome her powder blue dress is, to boot. She’s got style, class, and a hell of a sense of showmanship, to say nothing of how great her voice is. The second hour tonight really showed who the frontrunners are, and while I don’t know if Kimberly will necessarily make the finals, I know she deserves to be there. She gets a standing O, and Pharrell can’t bring himself to sit down. And I don’t blame him.
-Pharrell says there are no words for what Kimberly just did, and she can look for herself on the iTunes charts tonight. Adam simply says “Whaaaat?!” Blake, meanwhile, says they need to start seriously discussing the possibility of Christina winning her first season of The Voice. Christina gushes about Kimberly, saying that her version of that song has never been done before, and she can’t wait to get on iTunes and buy that version for herself. And with that, the show closes.
-And that’s a wrap! What did you think of tonight’s show? Which two singers will go home? Sound off in the comments! Until tomorrow night, thanks for reading and hanging out!