The Voice 9 – Live Blog and Recap – Live Top 12 Performances (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 9, “Live Top 12 Performances”! Coaches Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams pit their teams against each other as we begin the race to the Season 9 finals!
There were some pretty big surprises after last week’s results show, with some really huge artists going home, such as Viktor Kiraly, Regina Love, Morgan Frazier, Ivonne Acero and Riley Biederer, just to name a few. This left us with a Top 12 that is sort of a mixed bag, since some seem ready to take the music industry by storm right now (Jordan, Jeffery, Barrett, Madi), while others seem like they’re going to need a lot more work (Braiden, Korin, Zach). But I’m definitely excited to see how these competitors grow as the competition continues, since I generally like this group of finalists.
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!
-Published this early again, so while we wait for the show to start, let’s go over the song spoilers for tonight…
(Click on the title to download the song on iTunes)
TEAM ADAM LEVINE
TEAM GWEN STEFANI
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON
I have no idea what the hell is up with these song choices tonight. “Renegade” for BRAIDEN SUNSHINE?! Richard Marx for Barrett Baber? And hey, look, I love Mark Hood to pieces, but Pharrell deserves to lose him tomorrow night for giving him “Against All Odds”. Seriously, every inch of that song choice can go to hell. Anyway, let’s see how this all plays out tonight…
-We open with Carson Daly and the Top 12 onstage, and lights arranged in the color of the French flag behind them. Carson offers the thoughts and prayers of everyone in The Voice family to the people of France at this incredibly difficult time. We then open the show with a preview video, and return to the studio, as Carson reminds us that ONLY ONE PERSON will be going home tomorrow. Oh, and voting is open NOW. So let’s get this show rolling…
TEAM GWEN STEFANI: BRAIDEN SUNSHINE opens the show!
-Gwen asks Braiden what kind of song he’d record if he were signed tomorrow, and he recalls singing AC/DC around his house at age nine. So he’ll be singing “Renegade” by Styx, which is still an utterly puzzling choice, regardless of what he used to sing as a kid, or what bands he used to be a part of growing up. He sounds decent in rehearsals, but I can’t see a situation where this looks anything but awkward.
-Okay, I’m willing to admit I was wrong about my initial reservations. Granted, this isn’t AMAZING or anything, but Braiden looks quite comfortable up there as a rocker. I don’t think this is the direction he should be going in, but I can’t pretend he doesn’t sound good here. Seriously, he impressed the hell out of me here. The raw-throated roar that ended the song was kind of badass. Again, I didn’t love this, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this.
-Adam talks about doing the math, and realizing that Braiden would have been nine when he was in that band he started six years ago. He thinks Braiden is a badass, and so does Blake. He notes they’ve seen Braiden do every style of song, and now Blake wants to see him do a country track. Pharrell is impressed with all the cool runs Braiden infused into the song, and feels he can do anything he wants. Gwen, meanwhile, praises Braiden for his confidence in doing a rock song, and is really proud of him for trying to find his way and discover who he is as an artist.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Braiden Sunshine Rocks Out With ‘Renegade’ on The Voice 9 Top 12 (VIDEO)
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: AMY VACHAL is up next!
-Amy will be singing “Hotline Bling” by Drake, and she feels it’ll be a chance for her to show who she is. Adam even plays on the guitar for her to help her decide on an arrangement. In one of the coolest little moments of the season, Pharrell appears and offers some tips of his own, recommending an upright bass. This arrangement sounds so freaking cool. It’s going to be hard to top this song choice tonight.
-There are pitch issues at the start, but her tone is impeccable. I am absolutely in love with this woman, and with this awesome arrangement. She’s even playing the guitar for this one, and it adds a certain rhythm to her movements onstage, so that it feels like she’s ranting at the subject of the song. It’s like she’s taking Adam’s note about how she should be a little angry during this song to heart. And it’s working wonders for her. It’s not her best vocal of the competition, but I think she revealed her artistry clearer here than in any performance so far.
-Blake doesn’t think there’s ever been a more elegant or classy performance of a song about a booty call. Adam, meanwhile, is shocked Blake has even heard of the song. He responds by saying Gwen sang it to him on The Tonight Show once, prompting the crowd to go INSANE. Even Pharrell needs a minute to compose himself from laughing so much. Pharrell and Gwen both loved it, with Gwen adding that it was definitely better than the version they did on Fallon. Adam applauds Amy’s bravery in listening to him on the song choice, saying that her decision to take a risk and do something bold defines the show. “I want that version in my life,” he declares, and I’m right there with him. I am SO buying this on iTunes, dude.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Amy Vachal sings ‘Hotline Bling’ on The Voice (VIDEO)
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: MARK HOOD is up next!
-Mark still can’t believe Pharrell put him through to the top 12, although I feel like the song choice he’s been given is going to end up making him wish he hadn’t been put through in the first place. Yes, he’ll be singing “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins, the song of doom for singing talent show competitors. Pharrell is smart enough to suggest a stripped back, almost hymn-like arrangement, but this is just such a tired-ass song to hear on a show like this, and I truly thought we were past the point where we’d ever have to hear it again on any show. But nope. I love Mark to pieces, so I hope he’s able to overcome the handicap of this song.
-As great a vocalist as Mark is, I really didn’t enjoy this. It’s just a song choice that is so painfully dated that even Mark can’t make it sound like anything other than karaoke. It didn’t help that it sounded as though he was straining through half of it. Seriously, you’re on a show without theme weeks, and THIS IS WHAT YOU SING?! This is ridiculous. I love you, Mark, but I just wasn’t feeling this.
-Gwen enjoyed the performance and she really likes Mark, while Adam loves Mark’s passion and determination, saying he gives 200% every time. Pharrell loved it so much, he ants to do it again, getting the crowd to go wild for him. Mark is absolutely stunned by the reaction, and honestly, I love Mark’s humility and how bowled over he is by this entire experience. It’s really endearing.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Mark Hood sings ‘Against All Odds’ on The Voice (VIDEO)
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: EMILY ANN ROBERTS is up next!
-Blake tells Emily that putting her through to the Top 12 was a no-brainer. For her part, Emily is shocked that she’s No. 13 on the iTunes Top 200, and No. 2 on the country charts. Blake has given her “Blame It On Your Heart” by Patty Loveless, and he asks if she can connect with the song. “Of course, it’s about stupid boys!” she says, in possibly her most endearing moment on the show yet. She then talks about how all her friends are obsessed with Zach Seabaugh, and want to talk with him over Facetime. Zach teases her about it, and she gets back at him by saying her closest friend on Team Blake is Barrett Baber. Can I ship two people on a reality show? Because these kids are adorable.
-This is my favorite Emily performance yet. Not only was the vocal on-point, but her eyes were full of vibrancy and personality. She really sold the emotion and story behind the song, the way a true performer would. As a result, this felt a lot like a Carrie Underwood performance. I think she’s someone a lot of people are overlooking, since she has the potential, in my opinion, to go all the way. Don’t sleep on Emily, you guys!
-Gwen pulls a Blake and admits she doesn’t know the song, but she absolutely loved what Emily did with it. Adam is similarly impressed, saying Emily is someone who’s ready right now to take the industry by storm. Blake agrees, saying it feels as though she’s graduated from The Voice already. Yeah, I think Emily is going to be someone who surprises a lot of people with her popularity this season.
TEAM GWEN STEFANI: KORIN BUKOWSKI is up next!
-Korin will be singing “Titanium” by David Guetta and Sia, and…well well, big surprise: we get a couple seconds of song rehearsal before we see Gwen start in with the ridiculous styling suggestions. She continus her gradual process of transforming Korin into a mini version of herself by suggesting she go platinum blonde, arguing that one of the coolest things about Korin is that she has no idea how cool she is. No, Gwen, the coolest thing about Korin was that she’s absolutely nothing like you. Sorry, I’m just getting heated because Gwen is literally stripping away everything I loved about Korin, by taking away her quirky look and Regina Spektor-type performance style, and turning her into a mini-Gwen. I’m not loving Gwen as a coach right now, and I think it’s the Curse of the Second Chair, because Cee Lo sucked out loud too once live shows would start.
-Korin looks pretty good with platinum blonde hair, but I’m still kind of annoyed by her “Gwenonization”. Still, I can’t front on the vocal, as this is Korin’s best since the live shows started. I’m really hoping she survives another week, so we can see her hopefully do more songs like this. She’s got the soft tone on the verses and the power in the choruses, and it’s such a rare and beautiful thing to hear that I’d miss her if she were gone.
-Blake agrees with what Gwen said in the video, saying that the less cool Korin thinks she is, the cooler she gets. Pharrell loves Korin’s artistry, and also talks about how purely cool she is. Gwen thinks that song was written about Korin’s life, and she performed it just the way it should have been done. She loves watching Korin go on this journey, and loves working with her.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Korin Bukowski sings ‘Titanium’ on The Voice (VIDEO)
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: BARRETT BABER is up next!
-Barrett will be singing “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx, and he notes that this isn’t just about trying to make his own dream come true, it’s about trying to achieve this dream for his family. I knocked this song choice when I first heard it, but listening to it in rehearsals, I was actually pretty impressed with how well this matched Barrett’s vocal range. This might actually be one of the smarter song choices of the night, honestly. I mean, at the very least, it’s not “Against All Odds”.
-I really dig this vocal, even if the song choice is kind of sleepy. He actually sounds a bit like the lead singer of NewSong, the group who performed that sappy “The Christmas Shoes” song. Not that that’s a bad thing, since I think Barrett did a hell of a job with the vocal here. I find it kind of amusing that even on a ballad, he can’t help but let loose and work the stage. The dude is so awkward to watch, but so much fun. He’s seriously one of the most entertaining artists in the competition, to me.
-Adam loves how Barrett attacks the song, no matter what kind of track it is, whether a rock song or an emotional ballad. And he loves watching that every single time, because it speaks to his passion and dedication. Blake loves it too, saying Barrett managed to stand in front of the microphone for as long as he could take it, before ripping away the microphone and working the stage. “First and foremost, you are a GREAT singer, man,” Blake declares. “First and foremost”? But that was the last thing you said!
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Barrett Baber sings ‘Right Here Waiting’ on The Voice 9 Top 12 (VIDEO)
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: MADI DAVIS is up next!
-Pharrell tells Madi that he doesn’t want to change her artistry, he only wants to amplify it. For his part, he’s not surprised America voted her through, and neither am I, since I think she’s one of the strongest female artists on the show, personally. She’ll be singing “Who Will Save Your Soul” by Jewel, and together, they come up with a funky, soulful arrangement that hews close to the original while also sounding completely new. I dig it.
-I wasn’t sold on this at first, but Madi just has such a beautiful way of selling a song. I found her spoken line readings of “After those lies that you told, boy” really charming. She found a way to really get the feeling of this song across, while also delivering a genuinely strong vocal. Sure, she’s sang better than this before, but I think her stage presence has grown by leaps and bounds. I love Madi!
-Gwen compliments Madi on her shoes, leading to the two gals gabbing about how they dress like each other (you get the hell away from Madi, Gwen! It’s bad enough you’re changing Korin!), before praising her on the boldness of her voice. Blake is similarly impressed with how Madi has grown, saying she’s really snuck up on him over the course of this competition. Pharrell is enthusiastic, getting on his feet and shouting, “Just sixteen-years-old, ladies and gentleman!” The crowd ROARS for Madi as Pharrell praises her for knowing exactly who she is and what she wants to be as an artist at such a young age. I love Madi, and I hope she sails through to next week’s show.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Madi Davis sings ‘Who Will Save Your Soul’ on The Voice (VIDEO)
TEAM GWEN STEFANI: JEFFERY AUSTIN is up next!
-Jeffery credits Gwen with propelling him into a position where he could potentially be a contender to win. He’ll be singing “Let It Go” by James Bay, noting that it’s a very emotional song for him, as he lost his father at a young age. Gwen thinks it’s beautiful how he connects with the song, but feels the dynamics are too strong and it’s drowning out the notes. You know, I rag on Gwen a lot for what she does with her younger contestants, but when she’s working with fellow adults, she’s really on-point. I’m excited to hear what Jeffery does with this song.
-This was absolutely, positively STUNNING! I don’t even feel like it’s hyperbole when I say I liked this more than the original version, and I say that as someone who generally loves James Bay and his music. Artists like Jeffery are why I watch this show. I didn’t know I needed someone like this in my life until he entered it. This vocal was just so impeccable, with such superb control. He’s also a very passionate singer, and that always comes through in his performances. I couldn’t have been more captivated by this.
-Adam thinks that Jeffery is their greatest dream on this show, someone who develops into a complete artist on this show, putting all the skills they’ve acquired together into a total package. He’s proud of Jeffery and proud of Gwen as well. Blake thinks it’s unbelievable how on-point his control and pitch is, and agrees with Adam that Jeffery could win this thing. Gwen thinks the performance was crazy, but quickly ignores this to talk about how hot Jeffery is with his hair dyed. Ugh, you’re killing me, Gwen. She finishes her critique by noting how excited she is for Jeffery, and how proud he’s made her. Yeah, he’s a lock to go through.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Jeffery Austin Stuns With ‘Let It Go’ on The Voice 9 Top 12 (VIDEO)
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: SHELBY BROWN is up next!
-Shelby breaks down during rehearsal, and Adam comforts her, reminding hr that America saved her, he didn’t. Shelby admits she’s already a pretty emotional person as it is, and the nerves seem to be getting to her. But Adam helps boost her confidence with the song choice of “In Color” by Jamey Johnson. Honestly, I don’t know what she’s worried about. She sounds great here, at least as good as Emily Ann Roberts did. While Emily is likely the more popular of the country songstresses, I like Shelby’s voice a lot, since I find it far more dynamic. So I’ll be interested to hear how this turns out.
-Shelby looks great here, with a slightly different hairstyle, and an all-black outfit. She just looks way more mature up there. She sounds more mature too. I think this was one of the better song choices of the night, particularly since Shelby is the kind of artist who can really belt out the bigger song choices. We don’t have many of those artists left among the females in this competition, which is why I’m glad she’s around.
-Blake thought Shelby got a little ahead of the band on the song, but he states she did a good job overall. Adam admits that Blake’s critique has some merit, but feels Shelby really showed her true character and resiliency by recovering from the mistake so gracefully. Adam says he doesn’t care about mistakes, and praises Shelby for delivering above and beyond his expectations.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Shelby Brown sings ‘In Color’ on The Voice (VIDEO)
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: EVAN MCKEEL is up next!
-Evan admits that he wasn’t as comfortable singing “Overjoyed” last week as he’s been in the past. He’s thankful America voted him through anyway, but it’s difficult for him to shake off his uncertainty this week. He’ll be singing “This Is It” by Kenny Loggins, and Pharrell wants him to do whatever he needs to do to produce a natural-sounding performance, whether that means working the stage or standing at the microphone. Evan chooses to do a bit of both, starting at the microphone and then moving around stage. He’s intent on making it to the Top 11, because he doesn’t want to go back to weddings and bar gigs. Pharrell doesn’t feel that’s in the cards for Evan anyway though. Here’s hoping he’s right.
-I think the song choice is a bit corny and dated, and Evan can’t dance to save his freaking life. But hot DAMN, this vocal is outstanding. I absolutely love his tone, and the amount of passion and groove he threw into this performance. You could tell he was fighting like hell to stay here, and I hop he’s rewarded for it, even if he does find himself in the sing-off tomorrow.
-Gwen felt Evan showed them who he is, and adds that his voice and that song were perfect together. Pharrell asks Evan how he feels, and Evan says “Awesome”. Pharrell says this is indicative of how great it is when you stay true to who you are, and share that with people. “I’m very happy for you. You earned it, and I want America to vote you through because you deserve it,” Pharrell declares.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Evan McKeel sings ‘This Is It’ on The Voice (VIDEO)
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: JORDAN SMITH is up next!
-Jordan talks about just being a kid trying to pay his way through college before this show. But now, everything in his life has changed. Tonight, he’ll be singing the gospel hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, which is an affirmation of Jordan’s faith. He even breaks down in tears when talking about how God simply wants nothing more than for Him to be able to wake up and do what he loves everyday. It’s a beautiful vignette, and while I’m not sure how Jordan is going to sound on a hymn, I trust he can deliver something memorable, particularly since Adam is suggesting a stripped-back performance, with just a black suit, a spotlight and a piano. This ought to be good.
-Jordan starts out a cappella, and it’s absolutely GORGEOUS. He also gets to show his musicianship by accompanying himself on the piano. This was one of the most purely emotional performances I can remember on this show, and I’ll be shocked if he’s not at or near the top of the iTunes charts tomorrow. He gets a standing ovation from all four coaches, and a BIG hug from Adam. His family is in tears in the audience. SO beautiful.
-Blake says that, given the tragic events in Paris, this is something we all needed tonight. He thanks Jordan for that. Pharrell agrees, and says he doesn’t care about the competition side of this, he thinks everyone should go to iTunes and buy that record. Adam feels Jordan is the embodiment of hope, and the notion that there is still good in this world. I couldn’t agree more. This really should have closed the show.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: ZACH SEABAUGH closes the show!
-Zach is thrilled to be here, saying he used to be that weird kid in high school who sang and danced, but now he’s hanging out with Blake Shelton every week and getting tips from him. He’ll be singing “My Love” by Easton Corbin, and while it matches his rich tone quite nicely, Blake has to remind him that he’s singing to the love of his life, and needs to communicate that through his performance. I don’t really care for the song choice, but I can’t argue that Zach isn’t singing it well.
-Zach delivers a solid vocal that, while not spectacular, ought to be enough to get him through to next week. Just the screams from the girls in the audience speak volumes for how popular he is with the ladies. That said, he could split votes with the other young heartthrobs of this season like Braiden and Evan. You never know though. He’ll likely make it through to next week, but he needs to show more growth as the competition rolls on.
-Pharrell loves his deep tone, and is surprised that Zach is only 17. Gwen feels Zach is so seasoned as a performer for someone his age, adding that he’s effortless and natural. “I think you’re going to be a HUGE star,” she declares. Adam notes that last week was a breakout week for Zach, between his high-energy performance and his dancing, and he wants to see more of that. That said, he did enjoy this performance. Blake isn’t sure that he’s ever had anyone on this show like Zach, who could walk right off the stage right now, get in a tour bus, and headline a show somewhere. He also isn’t sure he’s ever had anyone take his notes like Zach has. “Great job, dude!” Blake beams. I feel this was a bit overpraised, but again, I think Zach just might prove popular enough to escape the Bottom 3 (or will it only be a Bottom 2, since only one person is going home?). I suppose we’ll see soon enough.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Zach Seabaugh sings ‘My Love’ on The Voice (VIDEO)
-And that’s a wrap! If I had to guess which two performers will duke it out in the singoff, I’d say Korin Bukowski and Mark Hood will be squaring off. But who even knows, at this point? They’ve never done a single elimination this early into the competition.
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!