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The Voice

The Voice Season 3, Live Show Playoff Round 1 Recap: Fight For Your Right!

Yes, it’s the live shows on The Voice Season 3, but no, we’re still not out of the battleground metaphors of weeks past! This time it’s the “playoffs,” and even though NBC knows it can’t compete with a little thing called the “presidential election” tomorrow, they’re still doing their best to create that same sort of voting tension among American audiences with this round of performances.

That’s right, NBC is all about the public’s democratic right to choose, so it’s up to us watching at home to vote through our faves to the actual real live rounds.

First up, our favorite bros — Adam Levine and Blake Shelton — were pitted against each other. So without further ado, let’s get to the singing!

Joselyn Rivera

First up was the young upstart originally from Team Christina, Joselyn Rivera. And while in rehearsals coach Adam Levine, in his stained ratty T-Shirt, looked like he’d just rolled out of bed, and we still wouldn’t kick him out of our bed. Old clothes notwithstanding, he still managed to dole out some sage advice to his young charge, telling Joselyn that she had to still had to have that “human quality” while performing.

On stage singing Demi Lovato’s “Give Your Heart a Break,” the lady in pink may have forgotten that little piece of advice because, at first she seemed stiff and dare we say, pitchy? We’ll give the kid a break because she was the first to test this new setup and what she lacked in vocals she more than made up for in stage presence.

Former coach Christina Aguilera was nothing but positive, saying that she “shined” on stage. We were too wrapped up in Cee Lo Green’s spot on impersonation of David Bowie meets Prince to really get his take, but we’re sure it was nice and included a vague come on.

Proud mentor Adam told her she “killed it” under the live lights, but we think there was still room for improvement.

And since it's live and there's always extra space to fill up, we're taken to social media correspondent, Christina Milian’s new digs, “the Sprint sky box” — a small stage above the audience where she’s cornered the singers just as they exited the stage to rest. And then it was on to the next!

Credit: Trae Patton/NBC © NBC Universal, Inc.    

Terry McDermott

Calling the man a "stud" even before he got on stage, coach Blake Shelton was clearly in bro love with the super talented Scottish talent Terry McDermott. The dude has an adorable twang and an even more adorable family, so it's not hard to root for this rocker. Especially when he hit the stage singing the Journey classic "Don't Stop Believin,’" which he pulled off with unbelievable precision and talent.

Judge Christina had it right, Terry just sang like it's "effortless," with the practiced ease of a seasoned vet, and it was easy to raise a lighter to his classic rock style that somehow felt "new” as his coach Blake put it.

Melanie Martinez

Next we had the gal whose style and swag rose way beyond her 17 years. Melanie Martinez, in true fashion, took a different route in her first live showing, going with an old classic in Ray Charles' "Hit The Road Jack." Going at it with a confidence and adorable sass that even had coach Adam swaying with his eyes closed, she bopping to the song with a sweet ‘40s era swing that made us want to tap right along with her.

Christina, unfortunately didn’t feel the same, diplomatically saying that she was “married to the original,” while Adam, like a supportive coach, swooped in to say that he was convinced by her pure “artistry.” We’re with you on this one, Adam.

Credit: Trae Patton/NBC © NBC Universal, Inc.    

Liz Davis

Unless it’s your first time at the rodeo, Coach Blake’s agenda to get a country singer the whole kit and caboodle is known far and wide in these Voice parts. And blond bombshell Liz Davis was his last and only chance of the season, so no pressure, hon.

But you’d have no idea she was singing for all of country music when Liz hit the stage in a sparkly number ready to kill it from the first note. Singing the probably not so accidental, and super timely “Independence Day” by Martina McBride, she was making her bid to America with her absolutely stellar performance.

Coach Blake noted once again that there was a lot on the line, if she hadn’t been getting that every day in rehearsals, but did add that she was absolutely the country horse he was betting on to go the distance in the live rounds.

Cassadee Pope

Cassadee Pope is no stranger to the limelight, but in the playoffs, all bets are off, so she’s still got to climb her way to the top like everyone else. Singing “My Happy Ending” by Avril Lavigne, a truly inspired song choice for the pop rocker, she went out on a ledge and changed up the uptempo break up ballad into a fun, if slightly saccharine, tune.

Working the stage like an old pro, she had that disaffected Avril edge mixed with a heavy dose of actual talent that had us rocking out to her voice. The coaches weren’t quite convinced of her, with Christina doing her “oh cute, but I can still sing better” one-two punch, and Adam wondering what was behind the shiny smile that she’d obvi perfected after a couple of gos in the spotlight. Blake, meanwhile disagreed, as is his coachly obligation, perfectly fine with tagging her as the “pop rock” ticket to the live rounds.

Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC © NBC Universal, Inc.    

Bryan Keith

As the lone Y chromosome on Team Adam, Bryan Keith hoped to "play to his strengths" with a buttery soft ballad aimed right at the ladies. Enter Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris." Knowing he had to turn it on to charm for America, a fedora-festooned Bryan certainly stepped up to the plate, and delivered a sultry performance that only got better as it went on and the girls in the audience got louder.

Blake compared his lower register to “Neil Diamond” and coach Adam praised the way his “comforting” voice got the crowd roaring. Yea, this kid could sing us to sleep anytime.

MIchaela Paige

The youngest contestant with one of the biggest voices in the competition, Michaela Paige was more than happy to let her “freak” flag fly under those lights. Hitting the stage with a blonde fauxhawk that was almost as big as her personality, Michaela gave even the old pros a run for their money with her version of “Everybody Talks” by Neon Trees.

Well, first Melanie and now this. We have no idea what they’re feeding tweens these days, but there’s gotta be something in the water, because these youngins can WORK. In what Adam called her “best performance” to date, she managed to keep the tempo and the crowd’s energy up all at the same time. Coach Blake was practically giddy in his smugness, reminding us that he was the only person to turn his chair all those weeks ago while also telling America to make sure she made it to see another round.

Julio Caesar Castillo

Up next was the mariachi man himself Julio Cesar Castillo. The baby-faced singer, who was rocking a J. Biebz style side swept bang, went back to his roots this time, choosing to sing the classic Mexican ranchera-style song, "El Rey" by José Alfredo Jiménez.

And it turned out to be a actually a stroke of genius for the young star. Not only did he have the courage to get up on stage and sing a song that clearly meant so much to him, he did it knowing that, as coach Blake reminded him, most of his target audience wouldn’t understand the words. And extra points to him because since most of us couldn’t understand, we paid that much more attention to his voice, getting us to invest in the song like no other artist had.

Awarded with the first standing ovation of the evening, the audience clearly got the message, and so did the judges-especially our Ecuadorian diva Christina Aguilera who praised his fiery Hispanic roots.

Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC © NBC Universal, Inc.    

Loren Allred

Earning the “most improved” award from coach Adam, Loren Allred had to deal with being both the underdog and the one to watch tonight. Adam wanted to make sure she didn’t want fade into the background and “play it safe,” and in her LBD, swaying to "All Around the World" by Lisa Stansfield, she certainly made her mark. A great performance sure, but it didn’t hit the same notes with us as her all or nothing battle round until the last few seconds, when she really let it fly.

Cee Lo Green, who’d “always been a fan,” gave her high marks, while coach Adam wanted her to hold those last notes for her whole performance next time-if there was a next time (insert dramatic music here).

Amanda Brown

Closing out the night was powerhouse vocalist Amanda Brown, formerly of Team Cee Lo. The easy going songstress with talent for days clearly had her game face on tonight, choosing Aerosmith’s “Dream On” to take it to another level. If anyone could take on that huge task of a song, it would be Amanda, so it was no surprise that as the lights turned on, she shone on the stage with a high energy version of the rock ballad that absolutely killed.

You never know what you’re going to get with Amanda-first a power ballad then a girl power anthem, and then this. Ending it on a legitimately incredible high note, Amanda shut the stage down, earning thunderous applause from coaches and audience alike. Christina couldn’t even throw shade on the girl, telling her to “go ahead,” while Adam dubbed her the true best performance of the night.

And with that we end our first live rounds of season 3. What did you think of tonight’s performance? Has the game changed now that’s it’s live?

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11.6.2012 / 09:29 AM EDT by Chelsea Sanders
Related: The Voice, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Recaps

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