The Voice 8 – Live Blog and Recap – The Live Playoffs, Night 1 (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 8, “The Live Playoffs, Night 1”! 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, Blake and Pharrell will see their teams compete! It’s an eclectic mix of country, pop, R&B/Soul and rock artists, so it should be a pretty exciting night, even if I’m not exactly crazy about all of the song choices (but then, I’m notoriously difficult to please, in that regard).
But what will the finalists sing? Check out the song spoilers with iTunes links below:
Team Blake Shelton
Brooke Adee, “Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding (iTunes)
Hannah Kirby, “I Feel the Earth Move” by Carol King (iTunes)
Meghan Linsey, “Love Runs Out” by One Republic (iTunes)
Sarah Potenza, “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd (iTunes)
Corey Kent White, “To Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan (iTunes)
Team Pharrell Williams
Caitlin Caporale, “Best Thing I Never Had” by Beyonce (iTunes)
Sawyer Fredericks, “Trouble” by Ray Lamontagne (iTunes)
Koryn Hawthorne, “How Great Thou Art” (iTunes)
Lowell Oakley, “Jealous” by Nick Jonas (iTunes)
Mia Z, “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers (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 kick things off with a performance of “Sugar” from Maroon 5. This is dependably solid, although Adam’s voice sounds a bit thin during the chorus. I kind of prefer Chris Jamison’s version from last season, actually, if we’re judging by live versions of this song on The Voice stage, which…I mean, really, no one is doing that. Of course, we’ll get to see Chris Jamison on Wednesday, performing on the results show alongside Wiz Khalifa. Should be a good time. I’m fully convinced he’d have a hell of a chance at winning this season had he just waited a few more months to audition.
-Back from break, and we check in with the coaches for some random platitudes. Blake talks about how the coaches are out of the mix as far as choices go, since they can only pick one person of the three to go forward, while America will pick the other two. Of course, he’s ignoring that the coaches still get to pick all the songs, which could spell disaster for some of these contestants. We then get a Happy Birthday for Pharrell, who hasn’t aged since the first N.E.R.D. album, while Christina is looking pretty slick tonight. I’m getting a very “Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct” vibe from the white outfit. Adam talks about how important it is to break through, and tells his team to pay attention to what Blake and Pharrell’s finalists do tonight. Well, that was thankfully shorter than I worried it would be.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: SARAH POTENZA opens the show!
-Sarah talks about how fame has changed her, noting that she now has a pizza named after her, which is kind of surreal for an Italian-American. She then talks about the struggle of being an artist, eating from cans of tuna while saving money to play shows. She’ll be singing “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, presumably to preempt the jackwad in the audience who will inevitably shout of this request. If nothing else, the song is timely, considering the tragic death of the band’s original drummer this past weekend. Blake helps produce Sarah’s version of the song, and from what little we hear, it sounds good. I do like her classic rock vibe, as she reminds me a lot of a Janis Joplin type soul rocker.
-This was one of Sarah’s better performances, and it’ll probably secure her a spot in the Top 12, although I still don’t feel like she has a realistic shot at winning this thing. Still, it’s not all about winning, really, as long as she makes it deep into the competition. And that’s something I think she’s more than capable of doing. This was a great song choice, and Blake is pretty hyped by it, giving her an enthusiastic standing ovation.
-Christina loved the song choice, and says it reminded her of her dear friend Linda Perry. She also loves the rawness of her talent. Meanwhile, Pharrell agrees that it was a great song choice, and praises Sarah’s willingness to explore the different areas of her voice. Adam was initially concerned that the guitar solo would take prominence over Sarah’s vocals, but he was pleasantly surprised to find that Sarah’s vocals supplanted the guitar solo. Blake says that when you work with Sarah, you’re going to get a barrage of emails from her, such as song suggestions and arrangement ideas. He notes that this was all Sarah’s idea, and he praises her for her artistry.
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: CAITLIN CAPORALE is up next!
-Caitlin talks about putting her career in customer service on hold in order to pursue music, and notes she feels as though she’s coming into her own now. She’ll be singing “Best Thing I Never Had” by Beyonce, saying this is the kind of artist she wants to be, “a sort of pop-R&B singer.” Pharrell likes when Caitlin engages with her eyes, and encourages her to work the stage more. However, he notes that if she forgets the lyrics, to just sing through it. It’s a strange bit of advice since we don’t see her forgetting the lyrics, nor do I remember her forgetting the lyrics at any point before this. Either way, this sounds like a good song choice for her.
-This is easily Sarah’s best performance, to me. Caitlin is a singer who’s grown a lot over the past few weeks, initially looking a bit like filler, but becoming someone who feels like a potential candidate to go far in this competition. I think she’s a real dark horse in the vein of Kristen Merlin, one of those singers people expect to go home the first week, but who sticks around a surprisingly long time. I mean, I could be wrong, and probably will be, but I’d love to see her last.
-Adam says it was “[Blanking] amazing” and then makes a pun on the song lyrics, which Blake feigns laughter over. Blake feels Caitlin is really starting to show herself as a threat, looking like a star and navigating a melody like a pro. Christina loves having Caitlin here on The Voice, and is impressed at how much confidence she has on a song. She tends to go over on the high notes, but it’s better to be over than under, so she’s still pretty sad about her team being full before Caitlin came along. Pharrell says he’s very proud of Caitlin, noting she embraced who she is. He declares that Caitlin just proved why she deserves to be here. Agreed, Pharrell. Agreed.
-Back from break with Carson pointing out the super annoying “Voice boop” that’s been going on the past few weeks on Twitter, as people post videos in which they touch the coaches’ noses on their screens and say “boop”. Blake is as surprised to find this exists as I was.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: HANNAH KIRBY is up next!
-Blake notes that Hannah has had a similar journey to last season’s winner, Craig Wayne Boyd, as she was on Team Blake, was stolen to another team, and then stolen back by Blake. Hannah feels it’s good to be home. She’ll be singing “I Feel the Earth Move” by Carole King, and while she sounds good, she worries about her ability to connect with the song since she’s never had a boyfriend before. Blake advises raising the key, and Hannah feels now is the time to bring out the pure, unadulterated Hannah that we haven’t seen yet.
-Hannah sounds pretty damn good here. She shows more vocal versatility here than she has in any song so far. That said, I do find the song choice a bit on the boring side. Carole King has so many lovely songs, yet this is the one they go with? I mean, I guess I sort of get it, since they probably wanted her to do something uptempo, and this is as good a choice as any. But I just couldn’t help but feel nonplussed by the song choice, even though she sounded really good, especially towards the end. Christina, Blake, and Pharrell give her a standing ovation.
-Christina loved Hannah’s moves onstage, and says she was really entertained by the performance. Pharrell declares, “THAT’S entertainment!” From the bottom note to the top note, he felt she was perfect, as her voice didn’t crack once. Adam addresses his team and says that’s the kind of fearlessness they need to have tomorrow night. Hannah didn’t allow any insecurities to manifest onstage, she simply tackled the song without fear, and he praises Hannah for that. Blake feels Hannah was possessed by the song she was singing, and he wants to be sure that everybody notices just how perfect her singing is, as she hits every note with precision. He says singers like Hannah are the reason there even is a show like this. It was a damn solid performance, but I didn’t really get all the winner-sized praise she was getting. But Hannah is so likable that I can’t find fault with any of it.
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: LOWELL OAKLEY is up next!
-Pharrell asks if Lowell has worked on not overthinking things so much, and getting too lost in his own head. He notes that he saved Lowell because he believes in him, but says Lowell has to be the one driving this thing, not him. Lowell will be singing “Jealous” by Nick Jonas, since he wants to show he’s capable of modern songs and not just old fashioned crooner classics. Unfortunately, this sounds like a complete mess in rehearsals. He goes for a note that he doesn’t hit, and cringes. But Pharrell notes that there has to be an improvisational element to performance. Pharrell has an encouraging amount of faith in Lowell, but I just don’t know about this song choice.
-I feel so bad for Lowell here. He’s a really talented kid, and could have knocked it out of the ballpark had he changed the arrangement to fit more in with his style. If he’d pulled a Postmodern Jukebox, this could have been something special. Instead, it resulted in Lowell’s weakest performance. And that’s a shame, because I’ve liked literally everything Lowell has done so far thi season, and thought he’d be a shoo-in for the Top 12. But now, I’m really thinking this is where his run ends.
-Adam was really happy that Lowell was pushed to do this, saying he had high expectations since this song resulted in one of his favorite moments from last season (Chris Jamison shoutout!). He respected Lowell for stepping outside his comfort zone, and praises his chops. Blake feels the same, saying he has Adam Levine-type vocals in his upper register. Lowell says he’s been doing his homework, and Blake gives him kudos. Christina really likes how natural Lowell’s performance felt this time, saying he added his own inflections and stylistic choices that added to the performance, since she knows that song backwards and forwards due to how much her son loves it. Pharrell says he could really see how focused Lowell was, and praises what he achieved up there. I think he deserves kudos for giving it the college try, but I just didn’t like that, unfortunately.
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: MIA Z is up next!
-Mia is thrilled to be here, but she’s getting a little homesick, since she’s so used to be having them here. But they help her get through her homesickness with calls and texts, and their support means everything to her. She’ll be singing the Eva Cassidy version of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” which is an absolutely BRILLIANT choice. Whomever made that call, whether Mia or Pharrell, is a genius. Pharrell warns her against the falsetto notes, saying he wants America to hear the purity of her tone. Mia says she wants to make her family and Pharrell proud, and resolves to deliver the performance of her life.
-You know what? I’m only coming to realize it now, but I think I love Mia Z. She makes really exciting vocal choices. She also perfectly bridges the gap between soulful maturity and youthful mainstream relevance. I can’t get over how much I enjoyed this. Seriously, Mia has been a revelation these past few weeks with the way she dissects a melody and delivers something entirely new and fresh. I loved it from front to back.
-Adam is impressed with Mia, and says he isn’t going to pick apart the performance. He simply feels she’s going to deliver so much more as this competition goes on. Blake says if he could have any person on his team who isn’t already, it’d be Mia. He calls her the most underrated singer in this competition. Christina praises Mia for not doing a cliche pop song, and says Mia inspired her: “I kind of want to do this in my own set!” Pharrell, meanwhile, says how proud and confident he is, saying that Mia took her time with the track and delivered something really special.
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: KORYN HAWTHORNE is up next!
-Pharrell feels that while he gets to work with a lot of talented people, he thinks Koryn has something special. He’s given her “How Great Thou Art” since he sees her as an inspirational artist. Koryn feels this is her chance to show that spiritual side of her. She talks about her father, who wasn’t around because he was in prison. However, he turned his life around and is now a minister. They’ve reconnected over spirituality, and that adds a poignancy to her rendition of the song. Pharrell seems genuinely moved by her performance and her story, and Koryn is just as moved to see how much faith Pharrell places in her. She wants to make it to the Top 12, and with a song like this, I think she has a better shot than some might be giving her credit for.
-This is a rich vocal from Koryn, showing a depth I didn’t hear there before in her more pop-oriented performances. I was really impressed. If she doesn’t get through on votes, I think this performance makes a solid case for why Pharrell should consider putting her through as his coach’s choices. Pharrell and Christina give Koryn a standing ovation, and I have a hard time arguing it wasn’t well-earned. Her family is in tears, and I don’t blame them. This was lovely.
-Adam was riveted by the battle she was having with her nerves, and says it was so cool to see her triumph over her nerves and pull through. Blake says it’s almost like Koryn is flexing her muscles while she’s singing. He’s blown away that she’s only 17. “Welcome to the Top 12,” he tells her. Christina, meanwhile, says she misses having Koryn on her team, but praises the awesome job she did. She notes that Koryn clearly feels it all in her body, much like Beyonce, and that’s something you can’t teach a performer. Pharrell is so happy for Koryn, and says if anyone just saw what he saw, then they’ve been lifted up like he was. “I’m so happy that you are on my team. Thank you so much,” he says. Yeah, I think Mia Z and Sawyer are getting America’s vote, and then Pharrell puts Koryn through, although I actually think Caitlin Caporale did the better job.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: COREY KENT WHITE is up next!
-Blake offers his condolences to Corey, as he reveals to the audience that his grandfather tragically passed away after the Knockout Round. In a soundbite that nearly makes my lower lip quiver, Corey says his grandfather now has a better seat to watch this competition. Blake has given “To Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan, and the rehearsals are pretty solid, although Blake shows him how to better finesse the high notes. He says Corey holds all the country eggs in his basket, since he’s Blake’s only country artist. But hey, this is a positive for Blake, since Corey is super popular, revealing that he’s already gotten several marriage proposals (it also helps that Corey isn’t splitting votes with any other country artists on Team Blake, although I guess there’s still Sawyer Fredericks to worry about). Corey dedicates his performance to his future wife, as I’m sure a thousand girls just went sploosh.
-Corey has delivered better vocals than this, but I think this was his most deeply felt. There was an emotional connection here that made this instantly memorable. He’s got this sweetness to his voice that makes him feel like a more modern version of a traditional country crooner. This wasn’t his best performance, but I liked this a whole lot, just the same.
-Christina thinks Corey has a special way of engaging with the audience. He can connect without having to do much. He doesn’t need big notes, because he has a tenderness to his voice that sells the authenticity of his emotion. She notes that there isn’t a single weak link in the chain this season, calling it the most talented season of The Voice she’s ever been on. Pharrell praises Corey’s sincerity, and saying it was great. Adam admits he has to be the bad guy here, saying he actually wished Corey had brought more. He notes this is something he never says, but he thought it was a bit too subdued, and going a bit bigger could have gone a long way. Blake feels Adam has a point, but he recalls what Christina and Pharrell said about him, and notes that these are the things that make him special. I’d be absolutely gobsmacked if Corey didn’t make Blake’s team in the Top 12. He seems like a total slam-dunk to make Top 6, at least, in my opinion.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: BROOKE ADEE is up next!
-Brooke talks about being asked out on a date after being recognized in public. She then goes a bit into her backstory, saying how she was in an indie rock band with one of her best friends. Blake gave her “Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding, and you know the rest of the coaches are in trouble when BLAKE SHELTON is giving the most current song choice. Brooke is a little worried since she’s so used to singing in one key, but Blake is confident she’ll be able to managed the key changes. “I know Brooke won’t sing out of key, because she pinky-swore she wouldn’t.” Adorable.
-I suppose there’s an argument to be made about Brooke being too young to sing a song like this, but I love the song choice. She sounds current and relevant in a way that few other artists have tonight. I think she could be a real dark horse contender if given the chance. Much like Corey Kent White, she’s had better performances than this, but she’s just so magnetic to watch. Her smile, her stage presence, her overall style. There’s a sweetness and innocence there that’s cut through with pure pop potential. I’m probably on an ocean alone on this one, but I totally love Brooke.
-Christina gets where Brooke was coming from about her concerns regarding the vocal being all over the place. But she felt Brooke hit all her notes, and was clearly focused as well. Her only advice is to open up. Pharrell agrees with Christina on Brooke delivering a great performance, but his only note is for Brooke to add more of her own original ad-libs. Adam thought it was good, but agrees with Christina about being looser. He’s a fan of having a blueprint, but felt Brooke was sticking too close to the plan. However, he feels she’s here for a reason, sugar-coating what is essentially a negative critique. Blake says Brooke showed America “what a great, perfect singer” she is. He feels her lower register cut through with real strength, and he couldn’t be prouder of her. I think Brooke is very clearly in trouble, and I doubt she makes the Top 12, but if she somehow earns a spot, I wouldn’t mind it one bit, honestly. I don’t think we’ve seen all she can do, although I guess you can make the argument that if she hasn’t shown it yet by this point in the competition, it’s too late now. But whatever, I’m still a Brooke fan.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: MEGHAN LINSEY is up next!
-Blake encourages Meghan, saying there are always haters online who are going to complain that she already had her chance in the music industry, but what they don’t realize is that she’s having to start all over again. Meghan says starting over after her duo broke up has been the hardest thing she’s ever done. But Blake believes in her, and has given her “Love Runs Out” by OneRepublic to show America how diverse and current she is. I’m not sure I love the song choice on her, but I’m interested to see her step outside of her comfort zone, since she’s certainly got the voice to give it a try.
-I liked this. Didn’t love it, but liked it quite a bit. It was the type of enthusiastic, high-energy performance this show needed, considering things have been a bit subdued since Hannah Kirby was onstage. This was a fun, fast-paced rock vocal, and Meghan proved she has the chops to keep up with it. The crowd is super enthusiastic for her too, as Christina can barely even get her word in edgewise before the audience takes over.
-Christina absolutely loved it, and allows the crowd’s enthusiasm to speak for her. Pharrell is proud of Meghan, and says “No” should be her biggest motivation, since she’s fought through all the criticism to stand on that stage, doing what she wants to do. Blake says he doesn’t know how Meghan doesn’t make the Top 12 after that performance. He gives Meghan the praise for the track, saying she wanted to do something more current. He thought she did a fantastic job, and while I’m not as enthusiastic on the performance, I did really like it. And yeah, she’s pretty much a lock for the Top 12, whether America puts her there or Blake does.
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: SAWYER FREDERICKS closes the show!
-Sawyer talks about how the media has supported him, and notes how he could barely play a show back home since people were swamping him for CDs. His song even made it to the Top 25 on the iTunes singles chart. He’s actually a bit overwhelmed by all the attention, but he’s getting back to his basics by singing the type of music he wants to sing, namely “Trouble” by Ray Lamontagne. He says this is the kind of song he would put on his album, and Pharrell is impressed with the choice. He’s doubly impressed by how Sawyer describes the song to him and to the band, essentially producing on his own. Pharrell likes that although Sawyer is only 15, he knows what he wants, and that’s what an artist is made of.
-Sawyer plays the guitar for this, and I think it’s a solid choice. It sort of gives him an anchor to hold onto as his passion overtakes him on the song. I don’t love the vocal, but I do like Sawyer. I think he has loads of potential, and a subtle charisma that’s really compelling. Of course, for a brief moment at the mid-point of the song, it looks like he forgets the words. He lets the moment pass and keeps playing, although the pause is incredibly awkward. Still, he’s able to recover and finish strong, so I doubt that little flub is going to hurt him too badly. I mean, he’s the youngest dude in the competition. I’m honestly surprised he’s holding it to together this well at all.
-Adam is amused at how Sawyer’s soul is way older than he is. He really enjoys watching Sawyer perform. Blake says he got saved by a woman when he was 16, so it’s not that weird for Sawyer to be singing that song. “Awkward and inappropriate!” Adam sings, which is just plain wonderful. Blake goes on to say that he doesn’t care what happens on the show, Sawyer is a star. Pharrell considers Sawyer to be a super-rare, natural talent. He’s sure a lot of people look at him and wonders how he does it, but he’s certain that if people keep watching, they’ll instantly see what all the hype is about. Ultimately, I think Sawyer is still one of the ones to beat in this competition.
-And that’s a wrap! I’m predicting Corey and Meghan get through on votes for Team Blake, with Blake giving the third spot to Hannah. Meanwhile, I think Sawyer and Mia get through on votes for Team Pharrell, with Pharrell giving the third spot to Koryn. But I guess we’ll see on Wednesday. Sia will perform tomorrow, as will Adam and Christina’s teams. Then we get results on Wednesday, with a performance by Wiz Khalifa with Chris Jamison! But for now, let us know what you thought of tonight’s show in the comments! Until tomorrow night, thanks for reading and hanging out, everyone!