“The Voice” is of course a show about music and its influence on fans, artists and people in general. As a result, the NBC competition simply couldn’t ignore the loss of one of the industry’s most famed icons this week.
The episode opened on a somber note, with the stage lit up in purple to commemorate the life of the artist Prince, who died on Thursday at 57 years old. Host Carson Daly quickly turned things over to the celebrity panel of coaches to hear their individual thoughts on the life and influence of Prince.
Adam Levine, who previously shared his thoughts on the matter, kicked things off explaining that he was inspired by Prince’s refusal to compromise his musical vision throughout his very successful career. Pharrell Williams followed with a touching story about his aunt in Virginia Beach owning a Prince album that he played each summer of his childhood. He explained that he would never again be able to look at something purple without thinking of the artist. Christina Aguilera echoed Levine’s sentiment, discussing how much Prince affected the music industry for the better. Blake Shelton closed by confessing he never met Prince, but understood his music’s impact as a fan and how it made the mood in any room better.
Although it was a tough note to start the show on, the NBC reality competition pushed forward with another night of live performances. As always, as a gauge for viewers to how well each artist did before casting their vote this week, below is a rundown of how each artist performed:
Shalya Fearing, Team Adam
“The Climb” by Miley Cyrus
Despite her coach's rumored feud with the artist, he put his most promising artist front and center at the top of the show with the emotional country-leaning ballad that he believed would help her express her ongoing journey. It’s hard to tell if his plan worked, or if Fearing’s natural ability to turn every song she gets into a showstopper simply did what it does best. Either way it was an inspiring and uplifting song that lightened the mood following the Prince memorial in a big, yet respectful, hurry.
Daniel Passino, Team Pharrell
“Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper
As he did last week, Passino took the stage with a song he personally arranged. His coach was there simply to give him a push to move forward, open up and be braver than he’s already been. When the time came to sing live, Passino was working with a song that was near and dear to his heart. Although the performance was incredibly emotional and showcased his voice very well, it didn’t necessarily show the range that the song demands. However, it was a conscious choice on the part of the artist, not a deficiency. It will be up to America to decide if it was the right call.
Paxton Ingram, Team Blake
“Break Every Chain” by Tasha Cobbs
After a suggestion from Pharrell last week, this artist wanted to do a song that was inspirational. Blake agreed and sent his artist into the top 11 with the powerful gospel hit. It was right in Ingram’s wheelhouse as he was previously the lead of his church choir. Obviously, armed with the advice of two coaches, he absolutely brought down the house, taking full command of the song’s highs and lows and introducing a choir at the exact right moment. Make no mistake, although this artist puts on a happy face, he came to the live rounds to play.
Owen Danoff, Team Adam
“Fire and Rain” by James Taylor
Danoff made it clear that this is a song about someone losing a childhood friend and shared with “The Voice” audience that he had a friend who deployed with the U.S. Marines and never came back. After almost getting eliminated last week, the artist knew he needed a song he could connect to and one he knew like the back of his hand. When the time came to prove his worth onstage, he did so with a touching performance that did the song and its message justice. However, it wasn’t necessarily the heart-stopping and innovative performance that some of his opponents are capable of.
Mary Sarah, Team Blake
“Johnny and June” by Heidi Newfield
Sarah is Blake's last female country-leaning artist, so she’s very special to him. With an eye on the prize of the iTunes charts, Blake chose the emotional love song and tried to let this artist’s voice put a unique spin on it that people can only get from her. Sadly, the artist didn’t quite capture that magic onstage, as her performance fell a bit flat. While it wasn’t bad, it didn’t meet the standards of her coach’s team and even had pitch issues on the higher notes. Overall, it wasn’t one of Sarah's stronger performances on “The Voice.”
Alisan Porter, Team Xtina
“Stay With Me Baby” by Lorraine Ellison
We learned that not only is Porter a devoted mother, but that she uses music to both show her kids that she can be strong and to give herself an outlet to let loose and, for a brief moment, become someone who isn’t a mom. She took the stage with a highly complicated song that’s been covered by a slew of artists, and rubbed her own style on it. Porter has been one of the strongest in the competition, and her stage presence during this song was a perfect example. She’s got the vocals down, and her competition still struggles to have the same fully realized stage presence that she exhibits week after week. In many ways, Porter’s the most complete artist on the show.
Bryan Bautista, Team Xtina
“Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars
This artist, taking a queue from Prince, wanted to make sure his time onstage this week was about staying true to himself. What that translated to was a well-arranged performance with a lot of swing, funk and old-school charm. His voice was good but sounded strained on some of the song’s longer runs. He carried a lot of attitude and sexuality to the stage, but it wasn’t necessarily enough to overcome his vocal issues. However, anything the artist was struggling with was stripped away when he connected with his sister in the crowd. He dedicated the song to her and she was brought to tears by the gesture.
Adam Wakefield, Team Blake
“Lights” by Journey
Wakefield took a big risk by picking a song well outside his genre of country music. His coach hadn’t looked this excited for an arrangement for a while, and it was well worth the wait. Wakefield's performance was completely unique and the stuff that iTunes downloads are made of. He brings some professionalism and hard work to the stage that some of the younger competitors lack. Each week he delivers a fully realized cover that’s unique to him, and Monday was no exception.
Nick Hagelin, Team Xtina
“Your Body Is a Wonderland” by John Mayer
Christina believes this artist thrives in a live environment, so she gave him a very showy song to showcase that talent and ride his confidence to new heights. If anything, the plan worked a little too well as the artist took the stage and was a little too comfortable. The result was a song that lagged vocally and was often hard to understand. While he is without a doubt the artist that’s having the most fun, it may come at the cost of his performance value.
Hannah Huston, Team Pharrell
“I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt
Last week, Huston gave a much more upbeat performance that allowed her to move around and take command of the stage. Rather than go for a repeat of what worked, on Monday she went with a significantly stripped-down song. While it wasn’t one of the more entertaining performances, the decision to showcase her voice alone may have been a wise one, as no one was performing strong and it allowed her to build some credibility going into the upcoming rounds. Her voice was on point and demonstrated a control and improvisational quality that had the audience on its feet by the time she was done.
Laith Al-Saadi, Team Adam
“Make It Rain” by Ed Sheeran
Al-Saadi is well-aware he’s not necessarily what America is looking for in its next big music star. He is, by his own admission, neither the most attractive man nor the youngest. However, when he does his classic rock thing, he’s far and away the best at his craft on “The Voice” Season 10. His take on the Ed Sheeran song was no exception, adding his soulful yet haunting vocals to the powerful ballad. It’s not surprising that America continues to vote him forward, and if he continues with slam-dunk performances like this, he may not have too much to worry about.