Following the biggest night of eliminations thus far in Season 9, the top 12 contestants remaining on NBC's “The Voice” took the stage for the first time. Having beaten the odds last week, each person to take the stage this time did so in an effort to show the voters what makes them different.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the live rounds, the show took a moment to honor and pay tribute to the victims of the recent attacks in Paris. Host Carson Daly was joined onstage by the coaches and top 12 artists as he extended condolences to those affected by the terror attack and paused for a moment of silence. After that, the show turned over to its decidedly more lighthearted fare.
With only three players left on all four teams, the time has come for the coaches to get competitive as the decision for “The Voice” Season 9 winner is now entirely in the hands of the American voting public. Coaches Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton and Pharrell Williams each talked their artists through the most important night of their lives to date and made the decision really hard on fans looking to pick their favorite.
To help make sure voters make a reasonable and informed decision for the top artists of Season 9, below is a rundown of how each performer did during Monday’s live show:
Braiden Sunshine, Team Gwen
“Renegade” by Styx
Sunshine took the stage with his trademark curls straightened professionally again. He wasn’t even three words in before the audience was already clapping along with him. He took on a song with a lot of personality and attitude. While he’s proven adept at singing beyond his years in the past, he waned a bit when it came time to really rub some rock 'n' roll on the melody. Blake Shelton noted that he’s impressed with Sunshine’s ability to sing more than just one genre. He’s a solid performer, but his rock chops might need a bit of work. Overall, given his age, style and general personality, he’s still a top dog in the competition.
Amy Vachal, Team Adam
“Hotline Bling” by Drake
Vachal was taking the stage for the first time after her coach, Adam Levine, rescued her from elimination last week. It was a classy, stripped-down performance that allowed the singer to show off her disciplined vocals, while leaving wiggle room for her more jazzy runs. She performed it beautifully and managed to captivate all four of the coaches who gave her shining, if awkward, reviews.
Mark Hood, Team Pharrell
“Against All Odds” by Phil Collins
This singer wanted to try something a little different during his second live performance on “The Voice” Season 9. He took the stage with the slower, more impactful Phil Collins song in an effort to show off his voice over his performance value. After all, what good is an electrifying performance without the talent to back it up? Still, he wasn’t completely boring to look at, as he took to the crowd to sing among his screaming fans. At one point, coach Pharrell Williams had to stop his post-song review to quiet down one spastic fan.
Emily Ann Roberts, Team Blake
“Blame It On Your Heart” by Patty Loveless
Shelton’s female country star took the stage with a song that was perfect both for her style and attitude. She navigated the melody perfectly and gave what Stefani noted was a “cute” performance. While she’s nailing her specific style, if she doesn’t find a way to innovate, she may bore or alienate a good portion of the crowd. Then again, coach Blake Shelton has proven himself adept at knowing exactly what America wants. If she keeps listening, there may be hope yet.
Korin Bukowski, Team Gwen
“Titanium” by David Guetta
When it comes to song choice, no one is better than coach Gwen Stefani. Once again, she chose a song that was perfect for this often shy young artist. She took the stage with another bold new look and sang with heart, soul and, above all else, attitude. Now that the contestants are decreasing in numbers, the ability to showcase something different each night is important. If she continues to be able to innovate like this, she’ll be a top artist when the time comes.
Barrett Baber, Team Blake
“Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx
Giving Blake Shelton an artist who’s got a naturally flawless country-leaning voice is kind of like shooting fish in a barrel when it comes to his chances to win. The artist took the stage and demonstrated an ability to tackle almost any kind of emotion on the stage that the song throws his way. As far as the country artists on the show are concerned, Baber is absolutely the player to beat.
Madi Davis, Team Pharrell
“Who Will Save Your Soul” by Jewel
It’s rare for an artist to be so free with changing the arrangement of their cover this early in the competition, but it almost always pays off. With everyone fighting to stand out, Davis’ cover rose high above the rest. This 16-year-old artist took the Jewel song and upped the reggae elements of it and made it a song all her own. Her coach, Pharrell Williams, was flabbergasted by the way it came out and encouraged the audience to vote for her, if for no other reason than to see what she can do with a few years’ experience in the business.
Jeffery Austin, Team Gwen
“Let It Go” By James Blake
Austin confessed to his coach during rehearsal that he lost his father when he was 9 years old. As a result, he was able to channel some of that pain and emotion into his performance. Once again he proved to be a standout artist in the competition. While some are still struggling to find themselves on “The Voice” stage, Austin’s performances feel like a guest spot from a professional. If he can beat out the wild popularity that some of his other competitors have (mainly Mark Hood), he’ll likely be able to make the finals with ease.
Shelby Brown, Team Adam
“In Color” by Jamey Johnson
During rehearsal, Brown had a bit of a confidence issue in front of her coach. Despite being saved with America’s votes last week, she still felt like a fraud being on the competition. After a heartfelt pep talk from Levine, Brown took the stage armed with her impressive vocal range and brought the house down. While her performance still lacks a bit of confidence, she’d come miles away from the shy girl she was while practicing it. America sent her through last week and her showing this week was, arguably, much better. Unfortunately, she got out ahead of the backing band’s rhythm at one point and the coaches noticed. However, her recovery impressed them more than a straightforward performance ever could.
Evan McKeel, Team Pharrell
“This Is It” by Kenny Loggins
This Virginia native has always been one of the more energetic performers in the competition thus far. He’s a rare combination of a performer with a solid voice as well as natural stage presence. He told his coach that the Kenny Loggins song might not be possible for him to sing without command of the entire stage. With Williams’ permission, he utilized every inch of the space and every dance move in his repertoire to get it done. Both the coaches and audience responded well to the utter freedom he exhibited during his top 12 showing.
Jordan Smith, Team Adam
“Great Is Thy Faithfulness”
Time and again this artist has brought incredible emotion to “The Voice” stage. This time, he took this gospel hymn and made it his own in what can only be described as a restorative gift. Each coach felt as though his rendition of the song was a welcomed gift after a very difficult week in the world. Not only do the coaches continue to love this humble young performer, but the audience can’t seem to get enough of him either.
Zach Seabaugh, Team Blake
“My Love” by Little Texas
After channeling the dance moves of Elvis Presley during last week’s live performances, Shelton’s heartthrob contestant slowed things down significantly in his second show for America’s votes with the stripped-down country song. Shelton wanted the singer to get a little more emotional and show the audience that he can connect with his music, his emotions and the young ladies in the crowd. He did a good job of showing his tender side, but it was significantly less eye-catching than his previous high-energy songs.