NBC’s “The Voice” continued its first round of live performances this week as six members of two teams each sang one song in a battle for America’s vote. With each coach bringing in a comeback artist for Season 9 and 50 percent of each team getting voted off tomorrow night, the odds have never been more against the contestants.
After showing off what they’ve got during Monday night’s show, coaches Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani took a back seat on Tuesday as Blake Shelton's and Pharrell Williams’ artists took the stage to show voters why they deserve to take the whole competition in the 2015-2016 season. In addition to the five artists each coach came to the live rounds with, both Shelton and Williams were allowed to select one person who was previously eliminated in Season 9 to return as their Comeback Artist. Shelton chose Nadjah Nicole and Williams went with Celeste Betton, both of whom were axed during the Battle Rounds.
To help make sure those planning to vote for their favorite singer can make an informed decision, below is a rundown of all 12 performers from night two of “The Voice” Season 9 live playoffs.
Darius Scott, Team Pharrell
“Love Locked Down” by Kanye West
Scott knew the first time he took “The Voice” stage live he wanted to do it with a song that he could rearrange and make his own. With the help of coach Pharrell Williams, he arranged a wonderful song that demonstrated his ability to navigate a melody with soul and a professional flare. Throughout the competition so far, he has been one of the most musically creative contestants. Rival coach Blake Shelton said he thinks Scott is the person to beat on Team Pharrell.
Ivonne Acero, Team Blake
“One of Us” by Joan Osborne
This artist showed off her incredible vocal control with the popular hit. She made her coach proud and didn’t miss a note. Unfortunately, the shy performer, while technically proficient, lacked that star quality that could make her more entertaining than some of the others. With her voice and style on point, she needs to work on her stage presence just a little bit to be one of the bigger contenders in Season 9. The early rounds are meant for stripped-down performances, so a boring performance isn’t necessarily the end of the world just yet.
Morgan Frazier, Team Blake
“Lips of an Angel” by Hinder
In a bold move, this singer took a popular rock cover of a country song and took it a step further by adapting it for a female voice. Not only did she pull it off, it was obvious she could tell she was absolutely nailing it early on in the song. Her presence on stage was incredible, particularly when she dragged the mic stand with her as she moved to the front of the crowd. Her coach even went so far as to call anyone who doesn’t send her through to the next round “full of hate.” However, while she was an entertaining delight to watch, her singing wasn’t as strong as some of her competition.
Evan McKeel, Team Pharrell
“Overjoyed” by Stevie Wonder
The singer took the stage and was clearly having more fun than any of his predecessors of the evening. His voice accomplished some pretty impressive notes that set him apart from the rest of the singers in Season 9. That, and his stage presence and unusual flare for looking like he’s having a great time behind the microphone, make him a wonderful contender. Like Darius Scott, McKeel has a passion for the professional side of music collaboration, which often ends up meaning more to the coaches and voters than anything else.
Madi Davis, Team Pharrell
“Songbird” by Fleetwood Mac
Davis told her coach she felt a lot of pressure going into this performance as she was dedicating it to her mother, given that it’s her favorite song. She clearly had a vision for the live show and accomplished it swimmingly. As Shelton noted, it was a real breakout moment for the young artist as the pressure propelled this 16-year-old prodigy to a stellar performance that showed off her ability to switch in and out of falsetto with ease. If Season 8 winner Sawyer Fredericks taught us anything, it is that the younger singers are often the most impressive.
Celeste Betton, Team Pharrell (Comeback Artist)
“Something in the Water” by Carrie Underwood
There seems to be a trend with the Comeback Artists that might be giving them a slight advantage over their competition. Each one who’s performed so far has done so with an unprecedented level of confidence now that they’ve already tasted failure. As many know, if you’re confident in your performance, it ends up being significantly better for some reason. This was absolutely the case for Betton, who delivered a stunning showing that left all of the coaches and even host Carson Daly speechless.
Zach Seabaugh, Team Blake
“Brand New Girlfriend” by Steve Holy
This 17-year-old heartthrob may have ruined himself with his song choice. It began slow with some sing-talky parts and when it came time for him to launch into the peppy chorus, he leaned on his sex appeal to propel the performance forward. It worked and the crowd of young ladies were overjoyed. Although both the coaches and the audience were into it, the dancing and crowd work just felt like it wasn’t genuine. However, Seabaugh's voice remained clean the entire time -- so he’s still done nothing to send him home just yet.
Riley Biederer, Team Pharrell
“Should’ve Been Us” by Tori Kelly
Biederer brings something to the "Voice” stage that’s been drastically lacking so far -- attitude. Everyone at this point in the competition has a decent enough voice, but stage presence is often lacking. This young rocker wasn’t shy about commanding the stage and adding the performance value that will set her apart from the competition both on the show and in the music industry at large. Her only problem is controlling that voice of hers in a way that allows it not to falter when she’s doing her bad girl thing.
Nadjah Nicole, Team Blake (Comeback Artist)
“Upside Down” by Diana Ross
This artist is another who clearly had blast returning to the grand stage once again after being rescued by Blake Shelton. Wanting to make sure that America gets a decent glimpse at what she’s capable of, she went with a more upbeat song that allowed her to showcase both how entertaining she can be on stage as well as her vocal range. The song felt polished and could have very easily been recorded and sold right on the spot.
Emily Ann Roberts, Team Blake
“In the Garden” originally by C. Austin Miles
The performances didn’t get any more stripped down than this. Roberts, who celebrated her birthday with coach Shelton before her big show, chose to honor her grandfather with a gospel song. It was a chance to show off her voice, but it didn’t exactly have any long runs that allowed her to show off what she can do. It was a moving performance but didn’t give the audience a great idea of what the singer is capable of.
Mark Hood, Team Pharrell
“What Do You Mean” by Justin Bieber
Pharrell Williams decided to give the typically classic singer with a more contemporary song to show the audience what he’s capable of. He took to it well and when he finally took the stage he absolutely crushed it. His performance was anything but stripped down as he started out at the piano and ended with the audience practically on its feet dancing to the upbeat number. Without a doubt, in terms of stage presence, vocal ability and song arrangement -- Hood is, across the board, the performer to beat.
Barrett Baber, Team Blake
“I Drive Your Truck” by Lee Brice
The drama teacher and father chose a very emotional song about loss with the hope of proving to the crowd he is capable of hitting country notes with soul. When he finally took the stage for his first live performance, he managed to captivate the audience with a stripped-down performance that left them wanting more. While there are a lot of country-leaning singers in the competition, Baber may be Shelton’s ace in the hole for the genre.