The Voice 2013 Live Recap: Live Rounds — Top 20, Part One (11/4/2013)
At long last, we've reached the live rounds of The Voice Season 5! While we've enjoyed almost every minute so far, we have to admit we're more than ready for the audience-participation portion of this season to start.
Thankfully, all our waiting will not go unrewarded. There's so much amazing talent that one night of live performances simply can't contain it all, so this first week of live performances is a two-parter. A special, third night of The Voice will air on Thursday, where each coach, sadly, will have to let two of their team members go.
But let's not dwell on that sad moment in the near future! Tonight is all about amazing, show-stopping vocalists performing for the first time on live network television. Well, except for veteran performer and coach Christina Aguilera, who will be performing "How I Feel" with Flo Rida.
We'll be bringing you all the action here in real time, along with video highlights as they become available. So check back often and let us know who will earn your votes and who you think may be in danger!
Christina shows the contestants how it's done with a high-production performance of her new single. While she looks amazing and the song is great with its catchy hook (lifted from Nina Simone's "Feelin' Good") it's not exactly her best vocal performance. Could she be recovering from shouting her butt off for her team last week?
Newlywed Shelbie Z. (congrats, Shel!) returns with another powerful country vocal. She aimed for gritty and delivered. However, we can't help but feel she was missing the confidence she had in the Knockout Rounds — and it shows when she gets into the lower part of her register. She finished strong, but we would have loved to see some of that sassy hip shake she delivered last week in her performance of "Last Name."
Christina said it was a "powerhouse" performance, and she loves her attitude. Cee Lo said she did a great job, and that she's a strong addition to Team Blake — as much as it pains him to say. Adam says Blake gets too much credit — Shelbie is flawless. Well, agree to disagree, Adam — we thought she's done better... but you look very handsome tonight.
Coach Blake said if he had just woken up from a coma, he's think she must be one of the world's biggest country stars. He can't believe she's just a contestant on The Voice.
The more we learn about James Wolpert, the stronger our nerd crush grows. Like the fact that he was in an a capella group called "Sound Bites." Aborbs! Singing a stripped-down version of a folk classic, it wasn't as bombastic as Boston, but it was beautiful. We closed our eyes for a minute and could have sworn we were hearing Tracy Chapman. Crush confirmed. (You can iMessage us any time, James!)
Blake said you can't be a geek and be that awesome at the same time, which Adam strongly refutes (as do we). Before this performance, Blake had been on the fence about James, but no more. Christina says she'd always admired his range, but she could tell he felt vulnerable without his guitar in the earlier rounds. She calls his performance "heartwarming." Cee Lo first complimented Adam for song choice, then said he loved the "irony" of James' voice and his appearance. Adam applauded his mentee for bouncing back from a less-than-great performance last time around and said he couldn't be prouder of his performance.
Nic Hawk is stunned by his overnight fame! In his pre-performance confessional, Nic talks about the 13-year-old girls obsessed with him, as well as his fan club, cleverly dubbed The Flawk. For his first live performance, Nic tackles all the vocal parts in "Blurred Lines," including the rap solo. While it was entertaining enough, we really weren't feeling it before the rap, and sadly we weren't feeling it much after, either — though the rap solo itself was pretty great. But what was with the weird accent?
We hate to say it, but the Hawk did not soar tonight.
After the break, Christina said there was a lot going on, but she commends him for his multitasking and said his performance was a lot of fun. Cee Lo said it was amazing, and Adam called it "bittersweet" because he let Nic go. Coach Blake divulged that Nic confessed during the break he felt his vocals could have been better. We agree, obviously, but Blake says the only thing Nic's performance lacked was boobs.
Ray Boudreaux brings his swamp pop sound with Marc Broussard's "Home" and totally transports us to a dive bar on the bayou. It was a great performance, and Blake's so happy with his back-to-back contestants' performances he looks like he's about to pee his pants.
Christina loved his cool, bluesy vibe, and it was her favorite of his performances so far. Cee Lo says he's excited by how well everyone is performing under the pressure, including Ray. Adam was also impressed. Blake is excited about Ray's future, not just on The Voice, but beyond.
Blake gives Austin Jenckes this Black Crowes hit because he knows Austin has the sincerity to bring it home. What we loved most about Austin's performance is how much he seemed to be living for the moment. Carson commented on it first thing, and Christina said she loves that he sings with such heart. Cee Lo says Austin's been one of his favorites from the start. Adam says he thinks Austin's an incredible vocalist and the song choice was great. However, Adam was thrown by learning from the pre-roll that Austin does scooter tours for a living, because he looks like he should be riding a Harley. Blake says it takes a confident man to ride a scooter. As for the actual performance, he can always count on Austin to perform with 150% of his heart and sing flawlessly.
Adam wants Grey to move away from the wedding singer sound and emerge as a powerful female rock vocalist. While she definitely had the right outfit, we weren't sold on Grey the rocker, and her vocals got a little pitchy the more the jumped around onstage.
After the commercial break, Blake was trying to get Adam to get rid of her during the Knockouts so he could steal her. His plan obviously failed, and now he's all sad about it! Cee Lo said he'd never heard the original record by Paramore, but that Grey made it her own. How would he know if he doesn't know the original? Coach Adam is proud that the guys are reduced to inarticulate rambling messes by her talent (we're sure it has nothing to do with the skin-tight leather pants).
Adam is stoked to have Will Champlin back on his team after losing him in the Battle Rounds. Singing his own arrangement of "Secrets," Will started and ended his performance at the keyboard. It was a strong performance throughout, but he was clearly more comfortable behind the keys than out in front of the crowd.
Christina said his performance was touching and applauded his "money note" at the end. Cee Lo is so glad that everyone is so good that he can be honest and admire the talent rather than try to find nice things to say. Ouch! Adam says Will has a special gift, not just as a pianist but as a vocalist, and can do things in his upper register that Adam himself can't. Wow, high praise from the coach with the girliest voice, (and, yes, that includes Christina.)
Preston Pohl says The Voice has brought him back to life after almost losing his dad to cancer. (We're happy to hear he's now cancer free!) Singing his way through B.o.B's rap, we thought Preston gave the song a little reggae-soul flair. Then again, Preston could sing the phonebook and we'd be into it. His voice is like chamomile tea.
Blake continues the gush-a-thon about tonight's vocals being strong across the board, and Preston is no exception. Christina says he lends a classic, old-school sound to everything he sings and she's interested to see where he goes from this point. Cee Lo says he turned his chair for a lot of Adam and Blake's teammates, and while it should count against them for not choosing him, he can't help but root for their success. Adam says nobody sings like Preston — what he has is natural given talent.
How hilarious is it that Cole Vosbury's beard has its own Twitter? While that is admittedly the first thing we noticed about him, he's been standing out lately for his gritty Southern-fried vocals. Cole really blew the dust off an old record, making "Maggie May" sound new again. We can already see Cole becoming super famous and making "Amish chic" all the rage.
Christina admires Cole's consistency and marveled at the fact that he was a single chair turn. Yes, Christina, it was crazy. Cee Lo still loves Cole, even though he's with Team Blake now and he would love to lose to him. Adam says he wishes there was a new rule that would allow him to take whomever he wants on his team without having to fight (and lose) to Blake. Blake feels like he can win it all with Cole and he's honored to be able to work with him. Wow, total love fest tonight!
The last vocalist of the night is Jamaican Tessanne Chin, whose success on The Voice has made her major celeb back home. Singing "Many Rivers to Cross" by Jimmy Cliff, who she sang backup for before all four coaches turned their chairs for her. Tess definitely represented her mentor well, giving a powerhouse performance and tearing the roof off with her rendition. In fact, she put so much emotion into it, she was in tears at the end.
Christina tells her she's not surprised by her performance — she's been a fan since day one. Cee Lo says they saved the best for last. Adam says, talent aside, Tess has a "golden soul." But on top of that, her talent is "mind-boggling" and he's "dazzled" by her performance.
Next week, Teams Cee Lo and Christina will perform live. Talk about a tough act to follow! The performances tonight started off on a strong note and ended on flawless.
What did you think — was it really the best round of best live performances ever, or were you less than impressed?