And somehow, we’re at The Voice quarterfinals! We’re not sure if we’re more upset about the fact that we’re getting closer to the end, or more excited about the prospect of crowning the next "Voice."
This week, we’re back to Team Christina and Team Blake, but with a major change: After the performances, the coaches must instantly eliminate someone.
Riding the high of his 11th No. 1 single, Blake Shelton had an extra spring in his step tonight — and maybe even a little spunk, saying he would "kick” whomever came up with this “instant elimination.” Um, that would be the producers. As in the people who sign your paychecks, sir.
Since we cut the competition in half, tonight’s show gave us a chance to slow down and learn a little more about our quarterfinalists, as they sat down with their coaches to share some intimate heart-to-hearts. And we got a little more of our beloved judges, as they pulled double duty on both sides of the stage, performing alongside their team.
To kick off, we had little sassy songstress RaeLynn. First, she sat down to chat with coach Blake about how her life has changed (she ain’t seen nothing yet!). After they flaunted their southern roots and awkwardly discussed her relationship status (fyi, she’s single and a “heartbreaker”), we finally got to her performance.
This week, she sang Jason Aldrean’s “She’s Country,” and it was a perfect choice — because, frankly, she is. Decked out in a denim tutu and her cowboy boots, RaeLynn growled her way through the song, with a few PG-13 hip rolls. With her soft looks and hard voice, mixed with her spunky edge, she reminded us a little bit of a country Katy Perry, though we’d be OK with her opting out of the whipped cream bra and green hair.
Christina Aguilera called the underage ingenue a “badass,” and Cee Lo Green compared her to the country version of AC/DC. As for coach Blake, he said it was the “most proud moment he’s had,” which is pretty high honors from the chart-topping singer.
In his sit-down with Christina, single dad Jesse Campbell recognized that he would have to “get out of his head” for this week’s performance. Hoping to get him out of his comfort zone, coach Christina gave him Beyonce’s “Halo,” looking to have him do a more current song.
Standing inside of a picture frame, surrounded by adorable pictures of his daughter, the song clearly hit a personal note with him. It was obvious this choice was a departure from his norm, and we could see he felt a little uncomfortable in it at first. Midway through, though, he took it to the next level, foregoing Beyonce’s lyrics, in favor of his out-of-this-world wailing we know and love.
Judge Adam Levine praised him, but noted that his problem, moving forward, obviously wouldn’t be his ability, but his “crucial choices,” while Blake loved what he called his “Jesse thing.” Christina agreed, saying he did a “wonderful job.”
Riding high off her 11th hour save after the first live rounds, Jordis Unga was ready to go, saying that “people should be scared of [her].” Blake understood her fire to prove herself, wanting to show America the “singer, and not the screamer” in her.
Singing Sara Evans' “A Little Bit Stronger,” the usually gruff Jordis looked absolutely stunning in a pink, floor-length gown, as she roamed the stage littered with random, apparently metaphorical (empty metal bed frame?) set pieces.
Though we were pleasantly surprised to see this softer side of her, we kind of wish she had gone all out, because, as judge Adam reminded us last week during eliminations, now is the time to go balls to the walls.
Christina liked the “more intimate, softer approach,” and Adam loved her connection the song. Coach Blake was clearly pleased, calling it “perfect.”
At this point, we took a break from singing to do a little charity and a little bit of product promotion. Sitting in a Starbucks in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles, Christina explained how she uses her voice for more than singing. Then, making a stop at the Crenshaw High School choir room, Christina and her team invited the singing students to join them in their live performance.
And what a performance it was. Clad in a teeeeeny, skin-tight leotard and tights, and flanked by some half-naked cowboys (who gave some extra TLC to Blake, of course), Christina and her team, sang one of her fiercest hits, “Fighter.” Along with the fist-pumping support of the Crenshaw choir, the whole thing was over-the-top and beyond in the best possible ways, making us nostalgic for the Christina of her “Stripped” days.
When that’s new album coming out again, girl?
Ashley De La Rosa
Reeling from being in the bottom three of the first live rounds, Ashley De La Rosa was hoping to find her voice once again this week.
Doing a rock version of Jewel’s “Foolish Games,” it seemed like Ashley also went the Jordis route, choosing to go with a more emotionally resonant, quieter performance. Starting out on the floor in another gorgeous dress number, she really sold us on the song, ending on a super passionate high note.
Judge Adam thought that she was “the biggest surprise,” and Blake noted that it was amazing to “see her progress.” Coach Christina agreed, telling her she “made the song her own” and that she was excited to see where she would go. Later, we found out that it was also her 18th birthday. And really, could you get a better present? All we got was a sweater and a phone bill from our parents.
We can never have too much of our Voice BF, Adam, so his Maroon 5 performance, which we got next, was a nice little mid-show treat for us. Singing their new single, “Payphone,” featuring Wiz Khalifa, he reminded us why we love watching Mr. Levine every week in the first place.
After Erin Willett confessed she doesn't feel like she quite fits in the music biz, coach Blake sacrificed himself on the altar of dignity and told her about his mullet days, even providing America with a cringe-worthy visual. In addition to their non-mainstream looks, we also learned that both Blake and Erin had lost their dads within the same month, providing Erin with a much-needed sympathetic presence.
Singing “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele, she was given more than enough song to let her powerful voice roar. Even though we were a little wary of her taking on the well-known song, she proved us wrong, and was able to squeeze out a memorable rendition of the radio favorite.
Christina told her she “sang her heart out,” and Cee Lo thought she did the song “great justice.”
Coach Blake thought that she was one of the few who could do Adele right, and he was sure that “America agrees.”
Tonight, we learned that Lindsey Pavao was the top selling Voice iTunes artist, which left her surely feeling overwhelmed and with something to prove in her next performance.
After changing her song from a Rihanna mashup to Katy Perry’s “Part of Me” during rehearsals, Lindsay was feeling a little uneasy, seconded by coach Christina, who warned that the performance felt a little “one dimensional.”
Among some sort of postmodern set littered with obsidian mannequins and otherworldly dancers, we had a bit of trouble focusing on the singer throughout the song, but we did appreciate her original edge, which managed to shine through.
Cee Lo also referenced the staging, noting that it was becoming “more and more elaborate,” which he appreciated, of course, and despite some “pitch problems,” Adam liked it, too. Coach Christina said that she respected her “unique style,” and that she had a very “special place” in her heart.
After the third check-in with Christina Milian (yes, we know The Voice is still trending, we’re on Twitter too), and a nice, but not altogether noteworthy performance of “Heartache Tonight” by Team Blake, we were down to the last couple singers.
Up next was backup-turned-center-stage singer, Jermaine Paul, who was looking to turn this chance into his big break for both him and his family.
Singing “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins, he was already getting emotional in rehearsals, feeling the lyrics so much that he was choking up mid-song while singing for Christina.
And with the performance he gave, we weren't the ones who ended up choking back some tears. Singing simply, with just a piano backing him, we could tell he really lived it, and made us live it, too. Clearly at home on the stage, he took control of the song, and added a rich beautiful aspect to the classic, causing us to question whether or not we may have been underestimating this guy.
Christina loved it, saying that he was “very connected” with his songs, and that he was her “favorite” of Blake’s team, while Cee Lo praised his “soul” and “conviction.” Blake adored it so much he called it a “turning point” for him in America’s eyes.
Worried that his opera background wouldn’t be able to pull off Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida,” the classically trained Chris Mann got some much-needed support from coach Christina, who assured him that he was “genuine and real,” he’d be just fine.
Though we can’t deny Chris’ pipes, we couldn’t quite get over the obvious operatic tone of his performance, and with his slick suit and slicked back hair, we thought may have belonged in Carnegie Hall over The Voice stage.
Adam thought the performance was a “little odd,” but wanted him to stay true to his training and sing straight opera. Christina disagreed, and loved that he “stepped out of his comfort zone.”
And then, after a quick commercial break, we were back for the tough part: instant eliminations. After some procrastinating from Christina, which was, of course, cut short by Carson, she finally made her choice.
In a move that stunned everyone, as shown by the open-mouthed faces of both her team, judge Adam Levine, and the silent audience, Christina cut the fabulous Jesse Campbell.
Over on Team Blake, he got straight to it, and cut Jordis, who was instantly (and understandably) upset. In true host fashion, Carson quickly broke up the supportive love fest from her teammates, and got a few parting words from the booted singer.
Tomorrow it only gets better, with more live eliminations and a performance by the original Belieber, Justin Bieber. Tune in on April 17, 2012 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC!