The Voice 9 – Live Blog and Recap – Live Top 11 Performances (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 9, “Live Top 11 Performances”! Coaches Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams pit their teams against each other as we continue the race to the Season 9 finals!
Last week, we said goodbye to Mark Hood, as Team Pharrell lost its first member after America chose to keep Korin Bukowski after the sing-off and the live Instant Save! We’re down to 11 acts, which means we only have two more weeks until the big bloodbath: as we learned last week, we’ll be losing a massive FIVE singers at Top 9 week, as we go straight from the final nine to the grand finale! Basically, no one is safe and everyone is at risk!
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!
-Let’s go over tonight’s song spoilers!
(Click on the title to download the song on iTunes)
TEAM ADAM LEVINE
TEAM GWEN STEFANI
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON
Call me insane, but I actually love all the song choices for Team Gwen — but for personal reasons. I actually bought the soundtrack for A Walk to Remember as a teenager, so I loved “Only Hope”, while I basically grew up on 80s music, which resulted in “True” becoming one of my all-time favorite songs. And Jeffery will knock “Dancing On My Own” out of the ballpark. That said, I kind of feel like Pharrell is subtly busing Evan McKeel with all these out-of-date song choices. Still, I’m interested to hear what he does with it, because he’s got a hell of a voice on him, and I think this might be a good fit for him. But I don’t know if it’s the kind of song that will keep him in the competition. I guess we’ll see how it all plays out tonight.
-We open with Carson Daly introducing all the coaches and noting that Pharrell will be performing his single, “Freedom” later. This essentially destroys my mother’s theory that the reason they’re jumping from 9 singers to the final four during Top 9 week is because they didn’t want to pay money anymore for celebrity guest artists to fill two hours once it got down to below six singers. Ah well. Anyway, the artists will get to be hanging out with their families this week as part of Thanksgiving week. We begin with Team Adam’s country singer…
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: SHELBY BROWN opens the show!
-Shelby’s father has taken an insane amount of time off of work to be here with Shelby, and he couldn’t be more proud of her. Shelby will be singing “You and I” by Lady Gaga, and I’m not sure she has the sass to pull off a song like this, but I’m interested to see her try. There’s a lot of cute little moments here, such as Shelby talking about how much her father means to her, and then switching gear to talk about her obsession with giraffes, as Adam promises to buy her one if she does well tonight. Why would you even want a giraffe? Taking care of one sounds like an absolute nightmare.
-Shelby did a FAR better job with this than I was expecting. Granted, this never seemed like a natural song choice for her personality, but her voice adapted pretty quickly. She had some real powerhouse moments, particularly during the bridge and the stretch into the final choruses. She’s also got an awesome growl to go with it, making her seem a bit more mature and world-weary than her sweetness would suggest. I don’t really know if this is enough to keep her in the competition, particularly since she went first, but I enjoyed this.
-Shelby asks Adam if she’ll get a giraffe now, and Adam deflects by saying they’ll get to it after the other coaches talk. Blake says it’s apparent how much Shelby loves Alabama, and he praises her vocal technique. Pharrell agrees, but I’m instantly distracted by his shades, which I guess is to hide his black eye? Anyway, Gwen loves Shelby’s voice, but wishes she’d save her growl a bit more. Adam, for his part, has no idea how he’s going to pull off buying Shelby a giraffe, but he feels she certainly deserves one after that performance. He then gives the audience a hard time for not clapping in sync.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Shelby Brown Sings ‘You And I’ on The Voice (VIDEO)
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: EVAN MCKEEL is up next!
-Evan brings his mother, Christy, to his rehearsal session with Pharrell. Evan feels it’s really special to have both the people who’ve nurtured his love for music there with him. Evan is excited to go back to the style of music he’s been making, and feels “Smile” by Charlie Chaplin is the way to do it, noting it’s one of the most lyrically powerful songs ever written. He feels it’s a song that the world really needs to hear right now. For her part, his mother fights back tears as she notes that Evan was destined to be here. You know, I rag on the old fashioned nature of this song choice, but the guitar arrangement Evan and Pharrell have developed for this sounds pretty chill and cool.
-This was easily my favorite Evan performance since his impromptu “Overjoyed” at the live auditions. He sounds fantastic here, and although the arrangement doesn’t really contemporize the song, I think it’s absolutely lovely. If I have one issue, it’s that the silhouetted dancer in the background is a bit distracting. Evan is good enough that he doesn’t need anything more than a spotlight. I think Evan deserves to stick around after this performance, although I worry audiences might find it boring. Personally, I thought it was beautiful.
-Gwen states it was her favorite performance from Evan so far, noting that the song allowed his voice to shine. Blake loved watching the B-roll to see the production instincts Evan has, adding that he’s a total pro up there. Pharrell is proud of Evan, and feels he let people in. He adds that this is exactly the right way to use this show, to allow people to connect with you. That’s a good point, actually.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Evan McKeel Sings ‘Smile’ on The Voice (VIDEO)
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: BARRETT BABER is up next!
-Barrett feels this will be the week he finally proves he’s a man who sings/writes/thinks outside the box. Blake is impressed that Barrett is willing to take an iconic track like “Delta Dawn” by Tanya Tucker and take it in a different direction. Blake never wants to question any of Barrett’s ideas. We get to meet Barrett’s wife, Sarah, who talks about meeting Barrett in college and making a connection to him through his music. Barrett beams when he says that Sarah made his dream her own, noting that he hopes to one day realize that dream for the both of them. They’re a cute couple, and this made me want to root for Barrett (what can I say? I’m easily manipulated).
-This was one of the most fun performances Barrett has served up, in my opinion. A lot of energy and tons of swagger to the twangs in his vocal. That said, the band and chorus drowned him out for half the song, to the point where he might as well not have even been singing at all. But I was still impressed by Barrett, because he’s grown as a performer by leaps and bounds. Case in point, his movements were far less jerky and awkward. I thought this was a blast.
-Gwen praises Barrett for his command of the stage, noting that she doesn’t even care what he’s singing anymore, she just loves watching him perform. Adam loves seeing Barrett deliver a high-energy performance. Throughout the critiques, Blake keeps shouting “yeah!” for Barrett, prompting Adam to note that this is apparently the only way Blake can communicate, comparing it to the cast of Storage Wars. Blake gives it up for Barrett, as Adam now starts shouting over Blake. That got annoying pretty quick, actually. From both guys.
-And now we get a Christina Grimmie fashion segment from Kohl’s, with Season 7’s Sugar Joans dropping by to talk about her favorite look from her time on the show! Apparently, it was the white, floor-length gown she wore during the live shows. It was great seeing Sugar again here, even though it wasn’t to plug any music or anything.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Barrett Baber Sings ‘Delta Dawn’ on The Voice (VIDEO)
TEAM GWEN STEFANI: KORIN BUKOWSKI is up next!
-Korin’s father, Steve, notes how last week was the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows after the Bottom 2 appearance. Korin thought it would be her last performance, which is why she was so emotional when she was saved. She sings “God Bless America” to thank America for saving her, but that’s not her song choice for tonight. She’ll be singing “Only Hope” by Mandy Moore, which is a song she got excited about once she remembered it. Steve talks about what Korin was like as a baby, and we get to see a home movie of her singing “Just a Girl” by No Doubt, with Korin adding that she wasn’t lying when she said Gwen was her idol.
-This song is a favorite of mine, no lie. And I thought Korin did a decent job with this, although I don’t think this will be enough to keep her out of the Bottom 2. It just felt sort of like a pageant performance, which I don’t think necessarily has to be a bad thing, especially with an arrangement this orchestral and pretty. But in a competition with this many heavy-hitters, it’s going to be hard for a performance like this to really stand out. And that’s a shame, because I really like Korin and think she has loads of potential.
-Adam is proud of Korin for approaching each song in her own unique way. Pharrell praises Korin for recognizing that this is her moment, and for being more comfortable and less nervous onstage. “You’re on the right path now,” Pharrell says, as Korin visibly ages ten years on that stage from stress. Seriously, she’s so pretty, but she looks like she could be Gwen’s sister right now with how they’re styling her. Gwen talks about Korin coming into her own, as we complete the circle of “criticism that isn’t really criticism at all”.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Korin Bukowski Sings ‘Only Hope’ on The Voice (VIDEO)
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: AMY VACHAL is up next!
-We meet Richard, Amy’s father, whom she introduces as “Walter White” due to his bald head and goatee. It’s an awesome little moment. Richard taught Amy to play guitar, but notes she’s far surpassed any talent he’s ever had. She’ll be singing “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift, and the arrangement has Amy proclaiming that Adam is a total “badass coach”. While she starts out planning to play the guitar, she and Adam agree that she doesn’t need it once they run through final rehearsal. Amy is more excited for this than she’s been for any performance so far, and I’m stoked to see, given how cool this arrangement is.
-I’M IN LOVE WITH THIS PERFORMANCE! Amy’s voice is pure magic, and this mellow, upbeat arrangement is utterly delightful. Never mind that Amy looks like a total star up there. It’s like the opposite of what Gwen is doing with Korin, as Amy’s styling is very classic and unique to her individuality. She’s like a cross between a folk singer and an actress from the Golden Age of Hollywood. And she’s got the pipes of a classic blues singer. There wasn’t a single note of this that I didn’t love. I almost wish I were back in high school so I could take this performance to prom.
-Blake loves these little “flips” Adam and Amy are doing, and even goes as far as to suggest one of his own songs, “Boys Around Here”, for Amy to flip in the future. This was his favorite vocal of hers so far. Pharrell, meanwhile, declares that the arrangements highlight her voice so well, adding that everyone needs to go on iTunes and buy that single. Adam feels Amy has succeeded this season by turning each of these songs into her own, since she can’t exactly perform her own material due to the nature of the show. He couldn’t be prouder, and loves that she’s created this album of her own songs, despite each track being a cover. Totally agreed. I thought this was one of the best performances of the season so far.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Amy Vachal Stuns With Amazing Version of ‘Blank Space’ on The Voice (VIDEO)
PHARRELL WILLIAMS performs!
-Pharrell sings “Freedom”, and it sounds exactly like the record. And that’s a compliment, even while the song largely stays in one gear for most of its duration. Still, this was a good performance overall.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: ZACH SEABAUGH is up next!
-Zach talks about growing up with sisters who all look like his mom, stating that it’s like having five mothers. His sisters get teased about how handsome their brother is, but they’re all proud of him, and they even sing along once they learn his song for this week is “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?” by Thompson Square. It’s a good song choice for him, although Blake wishes Zach would inject a bit more attitude into it, stating that it’s a guy asking the girl to just come over here and kiss him already. Zach takes the advice to heart, and the performance improves a bit. In a funny little moment, Blake reminds Zach that his mother views him as her retirement, so he needs to do his best. Trust me, it sounded better coming from Blake.
-Nope. Sorry, Zach. For such a great sobng choice, this was a downright anemic performance, with a tired-sounding vocal that was easily drowned out by the band at points. It’s to such an extent that I wonder if the audio mix is off for Team Blake, because only Zach and Barrett have had these issues so far. I suppose if Emily has audio leveling issues, we’ll know for sure. Either way, I really didn’t get this at all. I mean, I get that he’s a heartthrob and all, and he seems like a really nice, lovable guy, but this was not a Top 11 performance. Like, at all.
-Gwen jokes that the song choice was unfair, since the girls already like him, and this was playing up to that demographic. Adam thinks Zach has the chops to go along with his heartthrob status, noting that it kind of pisses him off how good Zach is. Blake asks the audience if it’s just him, or if Zach has some Elvis in him. He seems genuinely proud of this performance, so good on Blake. But I’m a world apart, unfortunately.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Zach Seabaugh Sings ‘Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not’ on The Voice (VIDEO)
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: MADI DAVIS is up next!
-Madi is thrilled to have her mother here with her, but warns her that if she says anything weird, it’s going to be a long ride back to the hotel. But in all seriousness, Madi notes that her mother supported her from the very start, as soon as she realized that this was what Madi wanted to do with her life. Madi will be singing “Love Is Blindness” by U2, and it’s already gorgeous. Seriously, there’s nothing about this I would change, although Pharrell does make a suggestion of an Adele-like run that works beautifully. This has “performance of the night” potential, in my opinion.
-This is outstanding! It takes a while to get going, but once it picks up, it gets really stirring and emotional. I loved how it started with Madi at the piano and moved to her commanding the stage to coincide with the rising passion of the song’s story. She did some beautiful runs here, and hit some amazing high notes. Her father is in tears in the audience, and Pharrell rushes the stage to give her a hug, while Gwen fights back tears. Just outstanding, from front to back.
-Adam didn’t know Madi had that in her, and wants her to know how amazing she just was. Blake asks the cameramen to focus on Madi’s father, saying that’s what it’s all about. He feels this was the performance of the night so far. Pharrell, meanwhile, is speechless and turns to the crowd to give it up for her. Pharrell loved it, naturally, and as we go to break, all we hear is Pharrell shouting “WOW!” to Madi as she walks offstage. Well, if anyone ever deserved to be gushed over, it was Madi.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Madi Davis Wows the Coaches With ‘Love Is Blindness’ on The Voice (VIDEO)
TEAM GWEN STEFANI: BRAIDEN SUNSHINE is up next!
-Braiden has brought his father with, noting that he’s his best friend. For his part, Braiden’s father loves seeing the report Gwen has formed with his son, noting that she’s not just making him the best artist he can be, there’s an emotional component as well. Braiden will be singing “True” by Spandau Ballet, one of my favorite songs of all-time. And it actually sounds pretty good in its original key, although Braiden doesn’t feel comfortable singing it in that key, so they move it up a bit higher. Gwen’s goal here is to take Braiden back to where he was when he performed the Michael Buble song in the live playoffs. Basically, she wants everyone to forget he’s just fifteen. I’d been hoping Gwen would take him back in that Buble direction at some point. Here’s hoping it works as well here as it did the first time.
-Honestly, this started out pretty rough for me, as Braiden was inaudible in certain points. However, this REALLY picked up at about the halfway point, once the song began to rely entirely on Braiden’s strong, controlled belting. It just became a fantastic rendition that hewed close to the original, but not so much that it was an exact copy. I was really impressed with what Braiden accomplished here, even while I wonder if it’ll be enough to keep him here. He’s got clear talent, and I’d give him at least another week off the strength of this performance.
-Blake loves how Braiden and Gwen work together, meeting in the middle. Pharrell knows Gwen wants to get away from reminding everyone that Braiden is just 15, but he can’t get over his emotional connection to the song at such a young age. He also loves the little runs Braiden throws into the song. Gwen can’t help putting her hands on her cheeks in a maternal “WOW!” She lets Braiden know she loves him, and this is probably the cutest coach-contestant connection this season, more so than the Barrett-Blake bromance (try saying that five times fast).
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Braiden Sunshine Sings ‘True’ on The Voice (VIDEO)
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: JORDAN SMITH is up next!
-Jordan’s mother is there to support him, and she talks about how he had an imaginary friend as a child, prompting Jordan to respond that his mom is being too much of a mom right now. Adam cuts through the awkwardness by offering his own embarrassing story, saying he wrote an original song for a recital as a child, and it was so awful that the only one who even still knows about it is his mother. Jordan will be singing “Who You Are” by Jessie J, which had Adam nervous at first, although he feels it actually fits the inspiring trajectory of Jordan’s journey. Jordan admits he’s had issues with self-perception, and so this song is something he can relate with ona personal level. Should be a hell of a performance.
-Jordan offers a fairly straightforward rendition of this song for the first half. It’s definitely good, but not otherworldly like his previous performances. However, at the halfway mark, Jordan just RIPS into this song with his trademark runs and his incredible falsetto. This guy has massive range, and his vocals are as dynamic as they are impeccable. By the end of the performance, he’s fighting back tears, telling Carson that he wants everyone to know it’s okay to be who you are. Jordan’s mother is in tears in the audience, and this is just so beautiful, with the crowd completely losing it for the guy.
-Pharrell loves the detail when Jordan sings, saying it’s effortless. He adds that the people can feel his intention with each song, and that he shares his emotions with the people. He states Jordan is very generous in that regard. Gwen adds that it’s hard to even speak after something like that, saying it’s so incredible, and noting how happy she is for him. Adam declares that there isn’t enough time on the show left to convey everything he wants to say. He states that Jordan does have issues with his performance, which is why he wants Jordan to know that he’s one of the best performers he knows. Jordan seems like he’s genuinely trying to hold back the waterworks, and even seems so stunned by Adam’s comments that he freezes onstage with Carson. He and Carson hug it out, and that might have just been the most unexpectedly adorable moment this season.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Jordan Smith Delivers Emotional ‘Who You Are’ Cover on The Voice (VIDEO)
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: EMILY ANN ROBERTS is up next!
-Emily loves having her father, Tommy, here with her, since he’s her biggest support along with Blake. Tommy notes how he first noticed the talent Emily had when she was a little girl, as he used to play Ricky Skaggs for her, and she’d rattle off each and every one of the songs like it was nothing. Emily admits she’s a huge fan of Ricky Skaggs, and she even got a tweet from the man himself! Tonight, she’ll be singing “Why Not Me” by The Judds, and Emily is thrilled to have the support of America. For his part, Tommy is thrilled to see how much Emily has grown as a performer under Blake’s tutelage. She really has grown a ton, to the point where I wouldn’t be surprised if she were Jordan and Jeffery’s biggest threat to The Voice title.
-This was my favorite performance from Emily, to date. She was a total pro up there, and while it probably reads like a cliche, this really did feel like a guest performer at an awards show, rather than a contestant on a singing competition. She could be the breakout star this show has been looking for all along, if she plays her cards right. She looks like a star, her voice is great, and she’s got this subtle, compelling charisma that makes it hard to look away from the TV when she’s performing. Hell, I spelled half of this sentence incorrectly and had to rewrite it because I couldn’t manage to look away during that performance.
-Pharrell wants a reminder on how old Emily is, and she states she just turned 17. Pharrell is all the more impressed for her ability, noting that all her runs were clean. Blake, meanwhile, states that Emily will be around for a long time, and he’s not just talking about this show. He declares that she just did a bluegrass version of a Judds song on national primetime television. Ultimately, Blake comes across as a proud papa, and he honestly has every reason to, because this was pretty great.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Emily Ann Roberts Sings ‘Why Not Me’ on The Voice (VIDEO)
TEAM GWEN STEFANI: JEFFERY AUSTIN closes the show!
-Jeffery freaked out after seeing his song went No. 9 on iTunes. His mother is on-hand here to support him, and Jeffery talks about how she’s always been extremely supportive, not only when he chose to become a singer, but also when he decided to come out. As a gay man, he’s beyond excited to sing a Robyn song on national television. He’ll be taking on “Dancing On My Own”, and this has the potential to be his best performance, in my opinion. Seriously, this song choice is SO on-point. Jeffery’s mother states that she couldn’t be more proud of her son, and it looks like Gwen is feeling the same way: when Jeffery hits his final run on the song in rehearsal, Gwen throws away her format sheet and whimsically declares, “I won!” You just might, Gwen. If Jeffery keeps it up like he has been, you just might.
-Man, the second half of tonight’s show really redeemed the rocky first half, because once again, this is a performance that ranks among my favorite of the season. What’s brilliant about this is how it builds. Sure, it’s a truncated version of the full song, but it doesn’t feel rushed at all. There’s also a cool moment where the band nearly drops out of the song entirely and allows Jeffery’s incredible voice to take center stage. This was the most impeccable, controlled vocal of the night, in my opinion. Seriously, this man is flawless, and I have no idea how he does it. The dude is crazy good. And to top it all off: GWEN IS IN TEARS! She can’t even talk, so Carson moves on to the other coaches.
-Adam says that Jeffery has qualities that can’t be coached, although Gwen has done an incredible job. Ultimately, he feels Jeffery has the qualities that inspire people to listen to him. Blake feels Jeffery could actually win The Voice this season, and says he also realized that Gwen could become the first female coach to win this show. Gwen tells Jeffery she loves him and that he’s so gifted, adding that she’s grateful to even know him. I’d be shocked if Jeffery didn’t chart in the Top 5 with that. I could easily see him even reaching No. 1. I guess we’ll see. Check back tomorrow afternoon for the chart!
-And that’s a wrap! Judging by tonight’s show, I’d think Korin and Zach would land in the Bottom 2, but I think Zach might prove to be one of those artists with a surprising amount of support, so I can’t say I’d be surprised if Evan or Braiden ended up being at risk either. But with this many people left in the competition, I can’t be entirely sure.
But what did you think of tonight’s show? Who will be at risk for elimination tomorrow night?
Until tomorrow, thanks for hanging out and reading!