The Top 12 performers on "The Voice" Season 7 sang live on episode 18 Monday night as they tried to showcase their best to ensure that they would not be sent home. With no more judge saves, the live stage gave some performers a chance to prove why they belong there -- and left the audience scratching their heads on others.
Before the performances kicked off, host Carson Daly announced that, for the first time since Season 1, the final singers will perform an original song created with the help of their coach (Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton or Pharell Williams). With the Top 12 about to become the Top 10, the team mentality was strong. With that, we thought it'd be a good idea to break down the perormances last night based on the judges.
There’s a pretty clear and sad reason to begin with Pharrell – Luke Wade. During his performance of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” Wade made a very small yet very noticeable mistake early on. He came in too early on the track and was forced to pause and wait for the right queue (video below). Luckily, the singer was able to dust off the misstep and finish the song beautifully. It’s a shame that the performance was marred by his mistake since the rest of the song was arguably one of the best performances of the evening. Entertainment Weekly notes that he appeared on the verge of tears after his song, despite the judges praising his ability to remain professional and save the moment. Still, it’s a bit of rookie mistake for a Top 12 performer to make.
Pharrell’s save from last week, Sugar Joans, underwhelmed with her performance of Al Green's “Take Me To the River,” which TV Line describes as “scream-y.” The song was bombastic at parts but restrained for Joans overall. The standout performer here was DaNica Shirey, who sang “Creep” by Radiohead. With her coach’s help, she was able to rub some Al Green funk on the angst-riddled rock song. It’s hard to imagine those two worlds colliding into a decent performance but that’s just what Shirey produced.
Adam Levine’s team is perhaps the most talented lineup in the Season 7 competition so far. The most impressive moment for his team was when Chris Jamison showed us all that we like a Nick Jonas song. It was a bold choice to pick such a recent hit, “Jealous,” but he was able to pull off the falsetto with the right flare - and his goofy, yet oddly hypnotic, dance moves put the cherry on top of a stellar performance.
Meanwhile, TV Line hit the nail on the head with Damien’s performance of The Hollies' “He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother,” saying his approach to vocal interpretation “seems based more on a youth spent watching ‘Star Search’ than on truly connecting to his lyrics.” While his range is almost unparalleled, his long runs and over performing tend to turn the audience off compared to others.
Finally, Matt McAndrew played things safe with a rendition of Hozier’s “Take Me to Church.” Similar to his teammate Jamison, McAndrew picked a relatively recent hit to swing into his Top 12 performance. However, unlike his teammate, he wasn’t able to put his own flavor to it. He spent his stage time singing a song the audience knew with precious few surprises.
If Gwen Stefani had any doubts about her save, Ryan Sill, she should feel totally vindicated now. Sill’s performance of Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World” proved to judges Levine and Williams that he’s suited for rock ‘n’ roll. The Hollywood Reporter notes that both judges were forced to rethink their initial impression of the former college a cappella singer. Still, the performance was a little lacking compared to some of the others who took the stage Monday.
Anita Antoinette performed Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” in an effort to represent her Jamaican culture. Levine commended her for being an ambassador for her home. However, as THR points out, there is a fine line between representing one’s home and leaning on a gimmick (see last season’s Tessanne Chin).
Running perfectly in the middle of the road last night was Taylor John Williams, who sang “If” by Bread. The song was a safe choice, the interpretation was a safe choice and the entire performance seemed like a safe choice. This doesn’t put Williams head on the chopping block necessarily, but it certainly doesn’t put his name on the tip of anyone’s tongue either.
Jessie Pitts played an interesting rendition of Swedish House Mafia's “Don’t You Worry Child,” on the piano. The performance worked… until it didn’t. It wasn’t bad but as both Entertainment Weekly and TV Line note, when she got up from the piano, things started to go down hill for the Alabama native. Meanwhile, Reagan James gasped her way through Lenny Kravitz’s “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over.” OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, it was the judges only real complaint about an otherwise on point performance. While James wasn’t the best singer of the night, she wa by no means anywhere close to the bottom of the barrel.
To that end, Craig Wayne Boyd enjoyed one of the best performances of the evening with George Strait’s “You Look So Good in Love.” Boyd not only let the audience hear his amazing voice, but his performance let them feel the emotional weight of the song, which is what set him apart from the others on Monday.
“The Voice” will return on Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 8 p.m. EST with the results of Monday's live performances on NBC. Who do you think will get sent home? Let us know in the comments section.