After a night of stellar live performances, “The Voice” returned for night two of the live playoffs of Season 8. There were no duds tonight as the remaining 10 singers took to the stage to pour their heart and soul into the music.
After Pharrell Williams and Blake Shelton went head-to-head last night, it was Team Adam Levine versus Team Christina Aguilera Tuesday. The duo put their remaining five performers on the stage to each fight for a chance to make it through to the top 12.
Below is a rundown of how the performers from each team did as the voting moves forward into tomorrow’s live results show.
Tonya Boyd-Cannon (Team Adam)
Song: “Take Me to the Pilot” by Elton John
Coach Levine’s team got things started last night with a powerhouse performance of the Elton John hit. It was a good song choice on the part of her coach because it gave her a chance to show off her gospel and church-music roots without actually marrying her to that genre. If anything, it felt like she was really holding herself back on some of the song’s higher notes and longer runs. Still, it looked as though she was having more fun with this song than she’s ever had in the competition, and she really pushed her performance from “average” to “well above average.”
Joshua Davis (Team Adam)
Song: “Budapest” by George Ezra
Levine continued his streak of picking perfect songs for his performers by giving his stolen rocker this underrated song. It’s deeply rooted in the folk music that Davis can handle so well, but it also gave him a chance to show off what he can do with a more contemporary song. His performance was a really great cover that is totally worthy of a download on iTunes. He sang with a distinct shimmer in his eye that proved that behind the microphone is where this man belongs. Whether Davis ends up as “The Voice” Season 8 winner or just the guy who sings songs at his newborn son’s daycare, Levine recognized a born singer when he saw one. If Davis continues to have performances like that, he’ll be moving farther than the top 12 for sure.
Sonic (Team Xtina)
Song: “I’m Going Down” by Mary J. Blige
Sonic is always interesting to watch perform as her biggest claim to fame, besides her voice, is the fact that she’s the only hearing impaired contestant of Season 8. While many would think of this as a handicap, she manages to make it her advantage. When Sonic picks up the microphone, it’s not about putting on a technically proficient performance. She’s got to just trust her voice and hope that her emotion and ability to tell a story with her music will be enough to get her through. So far so good with that particular strategy, but the question remains how long she can keep it up. If she does, she’s absolutely one of the more formidable people on the show. However, this is “The Voice” and it only takes one wrong note for America to send you packing.
Brian Johnson (Team Adam)
Song: “At This Moment” by Billy Vera & The Beaters
At this point in the competition, it’s not a bold statement to say that Johnson has some seriously powerful chops. Still, he raised the bar for everyone vocally on the competition tonight when he came out singing this strong song choice. Where he thrived is in his ability to take a song’s emotion or pain and turn it into a performance the audience can empathize with. His only pitfall is that his stage time can be a little bit boring, and last night was no exception. Although the audience loved him, he’s got a little work to do if he wants to keep their attention in the later rounds. Having said that, it’s not something that seems out of the realm of possibility for the talented artist.
Kimberly Nichole (Team Xtina)
Song: “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes
This ended up being one of the more confusing songs of the competition. While she received a standing ovation from the audience and some of the most shining reviews from the judges, her performance felt like it had something missing. Again, her voice nailed it and she put on a great show, but her coach told her to try getting emotional with the song and really tell a story, which she did not effectively accomplish.
It sounded as though she was trying to show off her vocals on a song that didn’t really lend itself to the runs she was taking it on. Her cover felt like it was at odds with what she wanted to accomplish. The only emotional moment of her time on stage was when she looked at her 91-year-old grandmother, who made it out to watch her sing live. Both women couldn’t hold back tears.
Lexi Davila (Team Xtina)
Song: “All by Myself” by Eric Carmen
Lexi took a page out of Brian Johnson’s book and looked to improve the quality of the show’s singers tonight. She succeeded and simultaneously didn’t suffer the same performance issues that he did. She started out slow and powerful and, midway through her song, ripped the microphone out of the stand and started to really let her body elevate her singing to bold new levels. The only gripe with her stage time on Tuesday was simply that her cover of the song was almost identical to the original. Whether it’s the song choice or bad coaching, it would have been nice to see a more creative arrangement. Still, clearly the original was all she needed to strike a chord with the audience.
Nathan Hermida (Team Adam)
Song: “Chains” by Nick Jonas
Adam Levine said he had a problem with some of the vocal choices that his contestant made tonight. That’s probably because Hermida took his advice and went in a completely different direction. His coach warned him that the song might not be for him due to his age. He’s 17 years old and likely hasn’t experienced the kind of heartbreak that "Chains" is about. To replace the sadness that he couldn’t connect with, he used a tone of anger to bring about an intense and very raw performance. The stripped-down arrangement was also on point. It was very close to being a complete a cappella, allowing the biting vocals to really cut at the audience and ride his wave of pain. While he didn’t get a stellar grade from the judges, those kind of bold choices are exactly the type that a future artist has to make. Whether he goes on or not, fans should keep their eye on this kid.
India Carney (Team Xtina)
Song: “Hurt” by Christina Aguilera
It’s always a little uncomfortable when a contestant takes on a song of one of their coaches. Still, India took the song and more than made it her own. She had been a relatively underrated performer on the show, but really turned some heads tonight with her powerful vocals and insanely potent stage presence.
She brought some serious intensity to the stage that a lot of the top 20 performers have been striving for to less avail. If tonight was a cavalcade of performers trying desperately to connect with their music, Carney was the only one to achieve this goal. She said that she was singing for a person at home and whoever he or she is should totally call her. At this point, she’s a front-runner to win it all in Season 8.
Rob Taylor (Team Xtina)
Song: “Earned It” by The Weekend
While singers like Johnson, Davila and Carney were upping the game of vocal performances, Taylor took stage presence to the next level tonight. His ability to interact with the crowd and let the music wash over both him and the people’s he’s trying to entertain ensured that eyeballs did not leave the screen. While he may not be the best singer in the competition, his showmanship is nothing to scoff at. It could be all he needs to go to the next round.
For a singer that was worried that fans would think he’s a one-trick pony, he seriously proved everyone wrong by letting his voice hit ranges that he hadn’t in the competition so far. Anyone who can inspire Adam Levine to do that weird hip dance he was doing after the song really deserves some kind of recognition.
Deanna Johnson (Team Adam)
Song: “Down by the River to Pray” made popular by Alison Krauss
During rehearsal, Levine gave Johnson some tough love about her stage fright. He laid down the law and made sure she knew that, at this point in the competition, he couldn’t save her from herself anymore. The best he could do was stick her in her comfort zone with a song that worked for her. He chose an old folk hymn in the hopes it would make her think she was simply back singing in the church of her hometown. The gambit worked and she gave a stripped down performance that was worthy of an iTunes download. The only problem is that tonight was a triumph for her that almost every other contestant remaining has already overcome. That fact coupled with the knowledge that she was already on the show in Season 5 (where no chairs turned around for her) paints a bleak picture about her chances to handle the later rounds of this competition.
“The Voice” will reveal its results from the past two nights of live playoff performances on a special Wednesday episode of the show.