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'The Voice' recap: 'Live Top 12 Performances'

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Trae Patton/NBC

The Voice

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams, Christina Aguilera
Reality TV, Music

Things are starting to get pretty intense now that The Voice season 10’s talent pool has been whittled down to a quaint little dozen. Right now, all four coaches (Adam LevinePharrell WilliamsChristina Aguilera, and Blake Shelton) are on equal footing with their teams, size-wise, but all that will change this week as America’s votes start to roll in, irrespective of who belongs to which team, to narrow down the remaining contestants one by one (with no more of those last-minute saves, either).

So, how will that public pecking order look? Well, after tonight’s round of live performances, we might have a few ideas. 

1. Mary Sarah (Team Blake)

“So Small” by Carrie Underwood

This country gal has some big shoes (boots, of course) to fill, but they’re all her own pairs because every time she’s taken this stage before, she’s been an absolute force to be reckoned with. Her song choice for tonight in particular is one that’s near and dear to her heart (cue the family story feels) and has the added benefit of potentially proving her pipes can extend past those Patsy Cline-ish bluesy Southern roots she’s been working with all season.

Indeed, her tone strength carries through quite well with the note, though at some points it’s a little too much of a cover performance. Even so, Blake believes Mary’s done enough of “walk[ing] that fine line between that traditional feeling and…contemporary” that she’ll get another vote-through for this week.

2. Laith Al-Saadi (Team Adam)

“Born Under a Bad Sign” by Albert King

Adam hits the nail squarely on the head when he describes Laith Al-Saadi as being an “if you love music, you should love what I do” type of performer because he doesn’t stray from his comfort zone one bit (and doesn’t need to). His decades of experience wailing on bluesy numbers like he does tonight — which he handily dominates, even earning a “proper handshake” from Carson Daly in due respect — shines through time and time again. The guy can sing, he knows himself, he’s consistent, and he makes great song selections. What else can we say?

3. Daniel Passino (Team Pharrell)

“Human Nature” by Michael Jackson

As a guy who’s recently done the “impossible” by leaping from comeback kid to one of the lucky few getting voted through by audiences, Daniel Passino knows he’s still got some proving to do, so this time he’s going back to his favorite fountain tonight by plucking from the Michael Jackson archives. “The origin of everything that I love about pop music comes from Michael Jackson,” he reminds us.

Pharrell thinks the song choice is “brilliant” and is especially impressed with his acoustic production of the number (while Adam’s into this all-new, super-confident version of Daniel that he somehow didn’t see before, and Christina’s heart is set aflutter by his slick mid-song nod to her). Daniel’s always presented himself as a ~performer~ and that’s exactly what he proves (AGAIN) tonight.

NEXT: A total pro proves himself AGAIN


4. Emily Keener (Team Pharrell)

“Lilac Wine” by Jeff Buckley

Whereas Emily Keener’s drawn consistent comparisons to Joni Mitchell and Janis Joplin in the past, Team Pharrell’s special unicorn has got a serious Fiona Apple vibe going on tonight as she tackles a song that, in her words, “has a deeper insight into human emotion” than most.

Her delivery is solemn and pretty and pure and leaves all the coaches stunned by her ability to sail through the various nuances of the number with grace. You might recall that Pharrell used his save to keep Emily in this thing (no surprise there), but with Christina calling it “magical” and her “favorite of the night so far” and Adam praising her for introducing the world to this prized Jeff Buckley gem, she’s given herself a good chance to earn the votes for next week.

5. Nick Hagelin (Team Christina)

“Mine Would Be You” by Blake Shelton

Like Daniel Passino, Nick Hagelin was brought back from a knockout and given America’s voted blessing to make it to this point, and as he dedicates tonight’s performance to his loving wife and waxes nostalgic about their up-and-down love story, it’s no wonder why. The guy’s got a LOT of heart and soul, and he definitely puts that through in his music. (It also doesn’t hurt that his cutie patootie of a kid says ridiculously adorable things, like how he wants to get a time machine to go back and re-live the moment he got voted through to the Top 12 a bazillion times. D’awwww.)

His performance has some nice moments here and there, but there are more often points where he feels a little out of his league in this stage of the game by zoning out on a dull note or even losing the key. But the coaches seem to disagree with that assessment because Pharrell says he could imagine that version of the song hitting the charts, and Blake jests that he’s just been bested at his own game by all Nick’s “cool ideas” (and that he’ll be asked for the Nick Hagelin version at his next show to boot). From this seat, it was only okay. Sorry.

6. Adam Wakefield (Team Blake)

“Soulshine” by the Allman Brothers Band

All Blake Shelton needs to get into the mood for some Adam Wakefield music is a cooler (presumably full of beers), and we’re basically like SAME because this gem is just the shiniest. While the coaches have previously touted others as being radio ready (ahem), none can claim that distinction quite as honestly as Adam Wakefield can. His gospel-driven take on the Allman Brothers Band’s “Soulshine” (an emotional reminder of his late brother, no less) is yet another notch on his belt of awesome on this show.

Here’s where the coaches get it 100 percent right in their insta-evals: Pharrell calls this “taking people to church on television and setting them free” (correct); Adam pegs him as “so far beyond the real deal” and says the performance could’ve easily been mistaken for something from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; and Blake predicts that Adam’s “going to be around for a long, long time,” and not just on this show. And it might be a “shallow note” to make, but Blake’s also right when he observes, “You’re doing what you’re meant to be doing and…you look cool as hell doing it. You’re a star, man.” Yes to all of that.

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7. Bryan Bautista (Team Christina)

“Kiss From a Rose” by Seal

There are two different performances put on by Bryan Bautista tonight. The first is a withdrawn and breathy introductory effort at Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” that doesn’t sound like himself and certainly doesn’t stick out among the night’s performances. But then there’s another moment when he walks down the crowded aisle, recognizes that his swagger is quickly doing a disappearing act, and decides to switch it up altogether and return to his original, more confident form. His penchant for the high notes on the second leg is well-played tonight and reminds us exactly why it was that Christina Aguilera decided to put him through over her other strong team members. We’ll just pretend that first measure didn’t happen.

8. Owen Danoff (Team Adam)

“7 Years” By Lukas Graham

Adam Levine didn’t have time to explain his rescue of Owen Danoff from the exit sign last week (not that it was a bad call, per se, but the Brian Nhira faithful may have been a little miffed). Apparently, there were a few different factors that went into his snap decision during the last minute of the first results round, including the fact that he believes he and Owen are “cut from the same cloth” and that he deserved the green light to this week. Also, he thinks Owen might be an underdog of this competition due to his notorious shyness but that it can (and will) be overcome under his guidance.

This week, he wants Owen to hit the stage sans his protective bass instrument and give it all to the singing. And while he starts off a little subdued, per usual, he does have a moment there when he’s feeling the power of the nostalgic anthem and works the crowd with a burst of interactive energy. Or as Adam puts it, “You looked like you were about to kill somebody.” Will it be enough to make him a Top 11 votee, though? That’s a giant question mark, but we somehow doubt it (unless the Nick Hagelin voters are somehow all busy tonight.)

9. Alisan Porter (Team Christina)

“Stone Cold” by Demi Lovato

Alisan Porter’s the kind of singer that warrants a much higher expectation level than a lot of the others because — like Adam, Mary, Laith (and arguably even Emily) — she doesn’t really have to prove that she’s got skills behind the mic anymore. Now, it’s about showing us through a variety of lenses that one day we’re going to want to hear this woman perform her own music and not just as a cover artist.

For the coaches at least, she’s met and exceeded that bar tonight — “epitomiz[ing] what the show is all about” for Adam and causing Blake to wonder if she ever gets “bored with being so great.” From here, though, there were a surprising number of scream-singing moments where her power wasn’t quite synching up, but then again, she definitely still ultimately brings on the chills, so she must be doing something right tonight. 

NEXT: Is this really “the complete package”?


10. Paxton Ingram (Team Blake)

“Hands to Myself” by Selena Gomez

For Blake, Paxton Ingram is “the complete package when it comes to entertainment,” which is precisely why he’s selected Paxton, an admitted “crush” of his (cue the audience turning into a collective giant green-eyed monster), to carry onto the next round. And while Paxton tries his best with an admittedly unique take on the Selena Gomez pop number, he’s left a lot to be desired — in particular, that he stick to his roots of confidence and go with a more inspiring melody next time…if there is a next time, that is. As stiff as the competition is right now, Paxton may be on the chopping block tomorrow for this relatively uneventful showing.

11. Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell)

“Something’s Got a Hold on Me” by Etta James

Hannah Huston loves her some Etta James. It was Etta James whose song earned her a spot on this show to begin with, and you know what they say about “if it ain’t broke…” Well, it ain’t broke. The peppy-but-soulful rendition she pulls out tonight proves that well enough as she easily flexes her “mountain ranges of notes” (Pharrell’s take) and bears her “alien soul” (Adam’s somehow accurate definition of her sound). There’s nothing here to write home about exactly, but she’s done enough to stay another day on the show for sure.

12. Shalyah Fearing (Team Adam)

“Up to the Mountain” as performed by Kelly Clarkson

If there were any remaining doubts that Shalyah Fearing is the human version of the 100 points emoji right now, she puts them to rest tonight. After her live playoffs, some were wildly impressed with her octave ownage (two hands raised right here), while others thought she did a little too much shouting to stick the landing for them.

The 17-year-old sensation must’ve heard those few criticisms and decided to answer them tonight because the beginning of her ballad of the evening is slow and steady and simply cannot be accused of being over the top. But then she escalates to the place we all know her voice can go and it’s YASSS for days. As Pharrell astutely notes, she knows exactly “when to press the gas.” And when she does, she knows how to GO alright. Calling this lady for the finals already.


  • Shalyah, Alisan, Daniel, Adam, and Mary Sarah will be among the first voted through. They’re all strong and did nothing that’ll jeopardize a vote in their favor this week, too.
  • Emily might be among the last to know whether she’ll get America’s vote this week, but she’ll squeak through at the tail end. Same for Owen, who might even be in the bottom two. 
  • Either Paxton Ingram or Nick Hagelin will go home tomorrow. Probably Paxton since he doesn’t have the background story draw-in that Nick does. 


  • Team Pharrell: Emily Keener, Hannah Huston, and Daniel Passino
  • Team Blake: Paxton Ingram, Mary Sarah, and Adam Wakefield
  • Team Christina: Bryan Bautista, Alisan Porter, and Nick Hagelin
  • Team Adam: Shalyah Fearing, Laith Al-Saadi, and Owen Danoff