The first series of live playoff performances on The Voice season 10 was definitely impressive, so Adam Levine and Pharrell Williams‘ teams have a lot of ground to cover if they want to match the gamesmanship displayed by everyone on Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton‘s squads.
While some miss a few marks that might just cost them a ticket to the next round, a few of these artists bring their A-game so hard we really need to invent a new grading scale to accurately award them.
Here’s the play-by-play, followed by our predictions for the Top 12!
1. Daniel Passino (comeback artist for Team Pharrell):
As Pharrell Williams rightly points out, Daniel Passino had the cards stacked unfairly high against him when he went into the knockouts round against probable finalist-in-the-making Alisan Porter. So it was a major bummer when Pharrell didn’t have a steal to save him right then and there because this guy is not only an enthusiastic performer, but his vocal skills are so solid and sophisticated. He definitely deserves to have made it through to this moment, and to the surprise of absolutely no one, he KILLS it when he gets his much-deserved second shot.
His tempered rendition of Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” is comprised mostly of his signature silk and comfort with the crowds, but then he throws in some whizzy high notes here and there and effectively shuts down any doubt that may have lingered as to whether he’s the real deal.
2. Emily Keener (Team Pharrell):
This gal might be 17 years old in reality, but in spirit/wisdom/cool points earned she’s already 129 (quick, someone call Guinness World Records). She’s completely one with the Joni Mitchell vibes during her rendition of Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years,” easily laying down (again) all the skill and honesty she’s been working with in her performances all season long with one dramatic stand-up-’cause-the-note’s-so-high moment to cap off the excellent number. Pharrell in particular is feeling her “emotional intelligence” and dubs her an “amazing unicorn” — one who clearly has the secret gift of leading a group time travel session since she basically just took everyone back to a chic ’70s coffee shop with her transcendent tones.
3. Laith Al-Saadi (Team Adam):
Laith is easily the most seasoned vocalist on the show right now, with actual decades of experience going at it six days a week with zilch interruption. So, at this point, it’s not about him proving that he’s got the pipes. That’s unquestionable. Now, it’s about earning those votes, so Laith brought in a friend — his trusty electric guitar — to sprinkle in sick solos and compliment his “giant barrel voice” during his take on Joe Cocker’s rendition of “With a Little Help from My Friends.”
NEXT: A performance that actually stops the show…
4. Moushumi (Team Pharrell):
Moushumi’s popularity extends across the entire globe as she inspires fellow teens with her background to pursue their dreams, so when she tries Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” on for size, it feels a little like she’s tucking herself away into a safe zone in response to all that attention. Sure, she’s still got really pretty tones, but her control waivers quite a bit with every note stretch throughout. Pharrell’s still sure she belongs in this biz, but we suspect she might have a tough road to the Top 12 after tonight.
5. Lacy Mandigo (Team Pharrell):
Having a metal rockin’ dad to show her the ropes has proven to be beneficial to Lacy Mandigo in more ways than one. Not only has she utterly rejected the “cute little girl” image Blake Shelton says she gives off at first glance (EYEROLL for that one, Blake), but she’s also had the chance to meet cool people like Pat Benatar, whose “Love Is a Battlefield” she’s jamming out with tonight. Lacy, who’s been saved not just once but twice throughout this competition, doesn’t really show us anything new with her performance of the song. Per usual, she’s got no trouble landing all the marks for ferocity and grunt-style singing the tune calls for, and she closes out with an eyebrow-raising bang again, but given the depth chart on Team Pharrell, she might not have done enough to keep going.
6. Owen Danoff (Team Adam):
The second musical legacy of the evening is Owen Danoff. He originally planned to go into film scoring and hasn’t always considered himself a vocalist, but this show is making him realize that, yes, he’s definitely got it. After the knockouts, he’s developed a new sense of confidence (“something really clicked”), so when he lands on “Hero” by Family of the Year as his first live performance on this stage, he’s really ready to own it.
As Blake mentions, it’s as though no one else ever sang the song before because he surrenders so completely to the music that it’s a seamless performance. Is it dynamic? Not really, even though he was aiming for something more contemporary. Is it a showcase of his entire range? No way. But it’s still a solid performance that proves he’s definitely got it. If Team Laith slacks even a little, he might just make it through.
7. Shalyah Fearing (Team Adam):
It’s hard to believe that Shalyah Fearing’s future on this show has ever been in question because she is, without a doubt, the most riveting singer of them all. There’s something so incredibly magnetic about the way that she performs that, pardon the pun, it makes everyone within earshot stop and really listen to what she’s doing — as with tonight’s rendition of “Listen” by Beyoncé.
During the rehearsals, it sounds like this might be just a little too difficult of a challenge for her, but she’s a great listener (agh, sorry again) to her coach, who wisely advises her to make it a “slow burn” to the tippy-top notes, and what she pulls off is literally show stopping. As in, they actually have to slice coaching commentary time in half because of the endless ovation that follows her booming, colossal performance. Even Carson Daly is compelled to chime in with his verdict on what just happened, accurately pegging it “like watching an Olympic skater stick every landing.” Masterful.
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8. Nate Butler (comeback artist from Team Adam):
For Adam’s knockout comeback, he draws from his own squad and plucks Nate Butler because, he’s right, Nate did get a “raw deal” in that round. The guy has proven himself to be quite the smooth stage operator, so him choosing Hall & Oates’s “Sara Smile” seems like a perfect tonal match for him.
While his performance is pitchy in some instances, it’s also impressively laden with range and, as Adam puts it, “subtleties and nuance” that he might just develop enough of a following here to avoid sending him home (again).
9. Caity Peters (Team Pharrell):
Even thinking about approaching an Adele song is like walking a tightrope over an interstate. But Caity Peters wants to break free of her ballad shell and show a new, up-tempo side of herself by way of the British icon’s “I’ll Be Waiting.” And if we hadn’t just had Shalyah Fearing in our ears, this might arrive as more of a power punch than it does, but by comparison, this effort is unfortunately a little humdrum.
NEXT: Is this who’ll make the Top 12?
10. Caroline Burns (Team Adam):
There are a lot of teen talents on this show, but the tiniest one of all is Caroline Burns, the little engine that could who worked her way back from a season 9 rejection and has made it all the way here. She’s got a lot of heart, and that definitely comes through in her performances, even when there are certain imperfections scattered throughout. Such is the case tonight as she belts out Kodaline’s “All I Want.” Her tone on the verses is controlled and extremely pretty, and she takes her coach’s advice to accelerate on intensity during the chorus well. Still though, Adam thinks she’s still holding something “explosive” back that we have yet to see from her, thanks to her shyness, and we can’t help but agree that we haven’t felt that fist pump happen with her yet.
11. Brian Nhira (Team Adam):
Brian Nhira’s the kinda kid you can’t help but root for — and not just because he’s an actual saint (Okay, that’s a tiny bit of an exaggeration, but he does spend his off-time hanging out with children around the world). He also gives 110 percent of his very being to every show he puts on, and even in those moments when he sounds a bit pitchy or breathy from all the running around he’s doing, he’s still so very present that it’s hard to impeach the quality of his delivery.
It’s also worth noting that he’s chosen a ridiculously difficult song (Sia’s “Alive,” which required him to be at full-tilt the entire way), which Adam is certain is at the absolute end of the difficulty spectrum which he’ll never reach again. His fan favor won’t go anywhere after tonight.
12. Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell):
For a preschool teacher who’s only just now finding her passion for music, Hannah Huston’s definitely got some lungs. She even brings Pharrell to tears during her rehearsal of Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way.” Her live performance of the same is a little less precise, with her struggling to reach some of the strongest notes, but Pharrell’s impressed by her “super colorful” singing style and thinks she’s definitely done what she needed to to steal all the hearts (and votes).
TOP 12 PREDICTIONS:
1. Adam Wakefield (Team Blake): C’monnn. This man already sounds like he’s on the radio.
2. Alisan Porter (Team Christina): Of course. This girl is on fire.
3. Brian Nhira (Team Adam): Whatever technical difficulties he might have experienced tonight, he makes up for in droves with his spirit. People will vote for this kid; we just know it.
4. Daniel Passino (Team Pharrell): He came back as though he’d never been gone and earned an enthusiastic wave-through to the next round.
5. Emily Keener (Team Pharrell): She’s a “unicorn.” How can you beat that?
6. Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell): She wasn’t perfect tonight, but she’s still definitely in this thing.
7. Joe Maye (Team Blake): His performance last night was a game-changer.
8. Laith Al-Saadi (Team Adam): Laith’s a power performer who is so legitimate and memorable that he might just have the edge over his equally qualified teammate Owen Danoff. But we’re not 100 percent on that just yet.
9. Mary Sarah (Team Blake): As Blake mentioned last night, she’s already a team favorite, and her skillset is so defined and real that it’s hard to believe she won’t get a nod.
10. Ryan Quinn (Team Christina): Who doesn’t love this guy? The Quinnsanity will surely carry the day.
11. Shalyah Fearing (Team Adam): We’ll be surprised if she isn’t the top-voted contestant of all time after what she accomplished tonight. She’s a *star* already.
12. Támar Davis (Team Christina): Támar has definitely proven that she’s ready to advance because this gal is a total pro.
- Team Adam: Shalyah Fearing, Brian Nhira, Caroline Burns, Laith Al-Saadi, Owen Danoff, and Nate Butler
- Team Pharrell: Lacy Mandigo, Caity Peters, Emily Keener, Hannah Huston, Moushumi, and Daniel Passino
- Team Christina: Ryan Quinn, Bryan Bautista, Alisan Porter, Kata Hay, Támar Davis, and Nick Hagelin
- Team Blake: Joe Maye, Paxton Ingram, Mary Sarah, Adam Wakefield, Katie Basden, and Justin Whisnant