VOICE OVER: The Top 10 Take Risks & Instigate Change
The Top 10 on NBC's The Voice took the stage tonight, vying to keep their spots on the show. The stakes were very high because the decision is completely up to America to vote for their favorite. No coaches can save them now. So Christina Aguilera's last two contestants performed, as well as Blake Shelton's two, Adam Levine's three, and CeeLo Green's three. As they did so, it seemed like they all wanted to turn this competition upside down, trying out new styles and challenging themselves hard-core.
Before reading any further, make sure to click here and review previous re-caps to get reaquainted with the current contestants on The Voice.
To open the night, Christina and Blake sang "I'm Just a Fool" in a beautiful duet. And then they got down to real business.
Christina brought in Rob Fair, who signed her on her first album, as a guest coach. So her first mentee, Sylvia Yacoub sang "Girl on Fire," and during rehearsals, Christina said, "She reminds me of a young me." Sylvia liked this song because she felt like she could relate to it and really express her own emotion through this music. Accompanying herself on the piano initially, Sylvia delivered this performance passionately, but the notes themselves were wanting for the most part, with the exception of the higher ones. The judges, however, loved her. Christina couldn't help saying, "You were on fire!" (see what she did there) " She also told Sylvia, "You just made me so proud, because I know there were some issues with changing it up, but you excelled and went above, you have it all. You blew me away."
Terry McDermott, the Scotsman, was the first of Blake's team to sing, and he chose, "Summer of '69." Scott Hendricks, Blake's producer, helped coach contestants tonight, and of Terry, he said, "He goes for it, and there's nobody else on the show like him. I don't know how anybody hits those notes." Blake emphasized how Terry can connect to his audience in such a powerful way on a regular basis, "That connection that you have with people really is strong." Terry emphatically stated, "I'm determined to try to give Blake a win." Terry is one of those that I find myself looking forward to. And yet again, he did not disappoint. He knocked this song out of the park and garnered a standing ovation from his coach. CeeLo gave him some concise, powerful praise, "Terry, you remind me of everything that I genuinely love about rock 'n' roll. I've become such a fan of yours that I'm ready to hear your own music." Sweet coach Blake confessed, "I'm not good at conveying my thoughts and feelings," so he just restated CeeLo's sentiment, adding, "You're doing something that people don't dare do. You're walking on sacred ground, and you're welcomed. Thank you for choosing me as your coach and making me look so smart."
Adam said of his 17-year-old contestant, "Melanie Martinez carries herself with so much grace and maturity. She's very emotional in a great way. That's what I love about Melanie." She sang, "Seven Nation Army," and Adam cautioned her, "If you want to win, you need to surprise people." Aware that this is the time to show the audience that she can do more with her voice, Melanie Confidently said, "I'm a softer singer, so... I definitely need to find those moments where I can highlight that power." She successfully featured the supported part of her voice more, and as she accompanied herself with the guitar, this sounded like her best performance so far. The dress she wore in the performance looked like an average dark dress, but it actually had her own photography on it, allowing her to connect her photography passion to her singing. Following this performance, Adam said, "You pushed really hard to do this song, and I'm really proud of you because you stuck with your guns on this, and I'm proud that you stayEd Strong on this. You made me really proud." Wow, I think Adam might have been proud of this performance.
CeeLo brought in Jennifer Hudson, who got her start from American Idol, to guest coach his team. "I'm a fan of The Voice. This is the perfect way to prepare you for the industry. Cody's personality is so huge, and that turned out to be more memorable than his voice." CeeLo and Cody himself wanted Cody to break out of his shell completely and just be a game-changer as he performed, "Crazy in Love" with what he called a "Cody twist." He had back-up singers, a crazy outfit, and really seemed to channel his inner Adam Lambert. Every coach simply ate up his performance, but Christina seemed like she was making a conscious effort to make up for what she said last week, when he took offense at the fact that she told him she wanted more from him. So she seemed a little over-eager, saying, "Cody, you worked it like a true diva! I do enjoy watching you move." She addressed last week's comment seeming to turn it around to attribute his success to her, "What I say pushes people to do better." Contrary to what she seemed to think, an awkward comment does not cancel out an earlier awkward comment. But Cody's coach CeeLo said, "You just bring me so much joy. I love you so much; you're so cool, and I think everybody gets that positive imagery from you. You'll be one of those artists that encourages people to be themselves, and that's very imperative."
New York native Bryan Keith of Team Adam sang, "New York State of Mind," to which he had an emotional connection. "I'd listen to this song with my dad and brother; it's just in me," Bryan told his coach, Adam, who was encouraging Bryan to be real with the honest in order to win. Blake was unusually exuberant with praise for this guy, so much so that he could barely articulate what he thought, throwing an extremely southern "gosh-dangit" in there. The coaches reached the consensus that Bryan successfully sang like a man and connected with his audience, as he had sought to do. Adam was brimming over with excitement about his contestant, "Billy Joel is one of my favorites. You did that song justice; you did exactly what we talked about. You have a certain spirit that lends itself to that song. It's really important that you sing that song like a man. You kicked that song's booty." Yes, like a 9-year-old, he did use that term.
Another fan favorite from Team Adam, Amanda Brown sang "Stars." (Not the Les Mis song; the Grace Potter one) Amanda said, "There's a big risk with this song because it's so intimate and personal. I think America's going to see a side of me that people haven't seen before." There are few words that more aptly describe this performance besides just "Wow." She was simply amazing, and her emotion was great. She totally owned it. She started to cry towards the end, which made it even more powerful. Adam reminded her, "We tried to match what you did with that moment in 'Dream On.' Not many people know this song, so it was your turn to deliver it. It's not a huge song, so the first time people hear it, might be from you. They all loved this song, and they loved you. We did our job." They certainly did. Amanda's was the best performance of the night.
When CeeLo's Nicholas David saw the guest coach, he endearingly said, "Holy buckets, that woman is Jennifer Hudson!" He sang the classic, "Lean on Me," accompanying himself with the piano, which rendered him very comfortable. Jennifer said, "I love Nicholas; I think he's very original. He sings with his soul." Nicholas realized that while playing piano made him more relaxed, that meant he had to find a new way to connect with the audience without being in their faces. Looking great with straightened hair, he executed this song perfectly, complete with a gospel choir (the "Agape Love Ensemble") in the background. Like so many from tonight, this song was very emotional. CeeLo's listed his reasons to love this performance, and they were numerous, "Let me tell you what I heard: I heard the voice for a generation. Let me tell you what I saw: I saw an immaculate, impassioned performance. It was wonderful. Let me tell you how it makes me feel: My mother and father were both minsters, so the gospel music is my blood type. My father died when I was very young, and Bill Withers is like my godfather, so it was so sweet to me; it made me cry." And this emotional moment had to be followed by a hug from Nick. It was a moral imperative.
The next CeeLo contestant, Trevin Hunte, was also starstruck by Jennifer Hudson. But again, as seemed to be a theme for tonight, this ballad-singer thought this was his time to branch out and sing something other than a ballad, namely, "Scream" by Usher. "I have a funner side to me, and I want everyone to remember I'm 18 years old." Both CeeLo and Jennifer were hesitant to let him do it, but they trusted him. When it counted, Trevin totally went for it, but he sounded a little nervous, and when he was among the crowd, he seemed to lose his focus. This was a great performance, but with so many other brilliant singers out there, he faded and became a mediocre singer. Adam told Trevin he could sing anything, even the dictionary, and sound great, and Christina called this her favorite moment from Trevin so far. CeeLo was absolutely beaming, "A quality of a good coach is to be able to listen. I'm glad that that paid off. Apparently it paid off. It was good see you alive and happy and free and confident, dude."
Cassadee Pope, of Team Blake, was another contestant who took a risk tonight, singing Blake and his wife Miranda's own, "Over You." This was an emotional journey for both Blake and Cassadee, because he had written this about his brother's death, and Cassadee connected her own emotion to the song, relating it to when her grandfather died. She said, "This song means a lot to Blake; I'm nervous I'm going to cry when I sing it," and Blake likewise told her, "I'm nervous I'm gonna cry when you sing it!" Looking radiant in a white floor-length formal dress with white pants, Cassadee just looked so comfortable on stage, displaying some raw, genuine emotion. The best part about her performance was that she was not trying to over-do it, but she sang as if this were really her song she'd written about her life. This was the sweetest performance of the night, because both singer and coach seemed to silently bond over this song, even while she was singing it. Not surprisingly, she received a standing ovation from Blake. Adam thought Cassadee was embracing her country side with this song, so he encouraged her to explore that more. Blake told her, "You sang easily the most important and most personal song that I've ever been a part of writing in my life, but you made me feel like I was hearing it for the first time, and words can't express what that means. Ladies and gentlemen, you're looking at an artist standing right up there."
The highly-anticipated, adorable, Dez Duron from team Christina, who is the one who draws the biggest crowd, consisting entirely of teenage girls, sang last tonight. "I wanted him to dig a little deeper this time," he said, talking about how much he had studied Frank Sinatra and Billy Holiday when he was younger and wanted to emulate them. As he sang, "Feeling Good" and really sounded like Bublé, with his own flare. When he came on stage, he looked ridiculously classy in a white sport coat with a black lapel. And the addition of trumpets and saxophone were just perfect. The only word I can think of for this performance is flawless. Following his performance, all of the screaming in the audience really sounded like Beatlemania all over again. Christina semi-awkwardly shifted the spotlight from just Dez to her whole team, saying, "That standing ovation was for both you and Sylvia tonight. I'm so happy that you brought not only your stage presence to the table, but you really rehearsed that and made everyone's heart melt tonight. Everybody, vote for my team!"
Ginge's Picks for the Top 10 are yet again Amanda, Terry, Dez, Cassadee, and a new one this week: Nicholas. All of the Top 10 tonight were amazing, but two have to go home. Tune in tomorrow night at 8/7c to NBC to find out which two go home!
Visit www.nbc.com/the-voice/artists/ to view the full list of Season 3 contestants (those eliminated and those still in the competition) plus their stories, videos, and more. You can download your favorites from tonight's performances at www.iTunes.com/thevoice, or watch them on The Voice's YouTube channel: www.Youtube.com/NBCthevoice. Keep up with The Voice through the week and during the show on Twitter: @NBCTheVoice, #TheVoice.