'The Voice' Recap: Top 12 Perform Live, Kristen Merlin Handles Technical Malfunction With Grace
The Voice's top 12 performed in the first live episode of the season, with Josh Kaufman delivering a scene stealing performance and Kristen Merlin singing through a microphone malfunction.
Top 12 Perform Live
Bria Kelly from Team Usher started it off with Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” with a little rock twist. For those who have waited until the live rounds to begin watching, Bria made a splash last week, with all the coaches declaring her the one to beat. Her vocals and her rocker rasp are all favorites of the judges. Her take on “Rolling In The Deep” was different enough from Adele’s that she didn’t have to live up to the all around adored singer. The only downside to the performance was her guitar, which she carried around for the entire performance and only played it for the last few bars. It looked more like a prop than anything else, and felt really awkward. Usher was nothing but proud of his artist, and Bria received a handful of praise from all the judges. Adam Levine did tell her that she did venture a bit off key, and out of all the judges he seemed the most hesitant to pack on the love in his comments.
Delvin Choice went for a simpler song for his first live performance, singing “Unchained Melody.” For all you viewers out there with a budding crush on Delvin: he’s single! In rehearsals, Adam encouraged him to connect to the emotion of the song, and he revealed that he doesn’t have a girlfriend right now, so he’s dedicating this song to his parents, who are celebrating their anniversary.
Delvin, a Team Adam stunner, has been a standout ever since the beginning, and this performance proved he more than deserves his spot in the lives (and possibly the finale). Delvin showed control with his vocals, not overdoing it, and also managed to hit a few high notes that wowed the crowd and the judges. He also worked the crowd, singing directly to a girl in the audience, taking advantage of the stage.
Dani Moz from Team Shakira made her live show debut with Pink’s “Just Give Me A Reason.” Dani impressed the judges with her performance of “Edge of Glory” in the Playoffs, securing her a place in the live rounds and making her an unforgettable contender. Pink is a bit of a tough singer to pull off, especially with an overplayed song, but Dani did it justice without trying to imitate Pink’s unique tone, proving that she’s more than a one hit wonder. Needless to say, Shakira was thrilled.
Audra McLaughlin of Team Blake Shelton performed her spin on Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning.” Audra has a powerful voice, and yodeled her way through the song with quite a bit of emotion. Usher was thoroughly impressed with how long she holds her big notes, and Adam professed his love for Audra.
Team Usher’s TJ Wilkins was up next, taking on John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change.” TJ wants to be an R&B singer with rock, pop and jazz on the side, and “Waiting on the World to Change” definitely hits those genres. Usher dubs his old school take on the John Mayer classic a “breakthrough moment.”
Christina Grimmie from Team Adam performed “Dark Horse.” Christina has been unanimously declared one of the best singers in the competition, and she certainly lived up to the title with her first live performance. Blake said she was dynamite, and even declared her the Team Adam artist to beat.
Sisaundra Lewis, an early frontrunner from Team Blake, tried to tone it down with “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.” Sisaundra is a powerhouse, no question, but her overwhelming talent and vocals can get to be a bit much, especially in a singing competition, where half the fun is watching artists grow and change over time. Blake tries to get her to relax a bit with her voice, but it’s a pointless endeavor. Sisaundra performed with her standard flair, and knocked the song out of the park.
Kristen Merlin's Mic Goes Out Mid-Performance
Kristen Merlin from Team Shakira was up next. Kristen, arguably the Top 12 artist with the least amount of screen time on The Voice, performed Sugarland’s “Stay” for her first live performance. Kristen was flawless, but her performance was not without a few hiccups. Her microphone cut out mid-performance, making her the first major victim of live show technical malfunctions. Kirsten handled it like a champ, or a true artist, and kept singing the song throughout to the end, even though we couldn’t hear it. A stagehand ran up to give her a new microphone just in time for her to sing out one last note. All four judges were impressed with her composure, and gave her a standing ovation. Adam admitted he thought he probably wouldn’t have been able to handle such an event with such grace. Blake and Usher decided to steer clear from commenting on the technical issues, and praised her vocals.
Adam’s favorite, Kat Perkins gave her best performance yet, singing Heart’s “Magic Man.” In the package, Kat says “Magic Man” is her favorite song, and her love for the song was apparent onstage, giving her performance an extra kick. The guitarists she shimmied with on stage also helped add a bit of fun to her performance. All the judges agreed that the performance was strong, but Blake was by far the most impressed.
Team Blake’s country kid, Jake Worthington was up next. The country crooner only got better with his performance of Travis Tritt’s “Anymore.” Not only is Jake a great singer, he is also adorable, and there’s no doubt he earned himself a lot of fans with his first live performance. Shakira called him “the most endearing” contestant and commended him for his honest nature and performance style. Blake added that, in country music, story telling is key and his honesty makes him a truly convincing country singer.
Team Shakira’s last artist, Tess Boyer, performed Bon Jovi’s “I’ll Be There For You.” Tess gave the power ballad her all, and it paid off. Blake said that she was the best artist on Team Shakira, and Shakira complimented her strong work ethic, both on and off stage.
Rounding out the live performances was Josh Kaufman, from Team Usher. Josh has been a surprising contestant, sneaking into the Top 12, surprising viewers and judges alike. Josh took on Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me" – the best song choice of the night. Josh sounded absolutely flawless and performed the song with truly strong and powerful emotion. Shakira, Adam and Blake were all equally blown away, with Blake calling the performance perfect. Usher complimented his stage presence, telling him, “You…have made my night.”
Two contestants will be eliminated from The Voice live on Tuesday, at 8 p.m. on NBC.
– Olivia Truffaut-Wong
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