The nice guy could very well finish first on The Voice. Team Pharrell and Team Gwen took the stage for the live rounds Tuesday night, and it quickly became clear that Pharrell has the strongest team of all. All of the standout performances Tuesday night came from Pharrell’s team, so it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to one of them on Wednesday night, when the top 16 become the top 12. And Team Gwen? Yeah, they were pretty good, I guess.
High Performances: In a competition filled with Top-40 hits and karaoke classics, DaNica Shirey was assigned Joni Mitchell’s “Help Me,” which on top of being an immensely challenging track, is also one that she, along with likely a ton of The Voice viewers, had never heard. So no one could have expected it to be the performance everyone was talking about, but Shirey made it just that by slaying it and all its intricate key changes. And when Sugar Joans sang Aretha Franklin’s “I Say a Little Prayer,” it was so beautiful that it made me want to lead some glittering Doris Day, Rock Hudson extravaganza.
Middle of the Pack: Anyone in the middle of Pharrell’s powerhouse of a team is still leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the competition. So if for some reason you’re reading this, Elyjuh Rene and Luke Wade, worry not. Rene’s take on Sam Smith’s “Latch” was sensational—showing off a killer range with Olympics-level vocal gymnastics. Luke took the exact opposite approach for his performance of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” In fact, it came across like he wasn’t trying that much at allhe sauntered across the stage like he owned it, sang what seems to be an untouchable classic with ease, all while still being pitch perfect. And that made it all the more sexy. Besides, after all, being overly eager is not going to help you get it on.
Low performance: To me, Jean Kelley on Brenda Russell’s “Piano in the Dark” was like watching one of Joey Tribbiani’s acting audition. It was overly dramatic, bordering on whiny. No doubt this girl’s got a strong set of pipes, but as Adam put it, “sometimes the drama was overwhelming certain aspects of the vocals.” In other words, be more like Luke and don’t try so hard.
High Performance: We already knew 17-year-old Bryana Salaz could sing, but on Tuesday night, she showed us something else with her performance of 5 Seconds of Summer’s “Amnesia.” A song about saying goodbye hit close to home for the military kid, who’s constantly changing schools and whose father was in the audience for Veteran’s Day. The performance may have started off rather ordinary, but as Blake Shelton pointed out, her voice grew stronger throughout the performance, ending with a remarkable high note (and some tears to boot).
Middle of the Pack: Let this be remembered as the day that a Voice contestant took a OneRepublic song and made it actually pretty good. Future boy bander Ryan Sill was tasked with OneRepublic’s “I Live,” and not only was his pitch perfect, but he broke out of the shell he’s been hiding in and veritably owned the stage.
Low performance: Apparently the judges completely disagreed with me on this one, but I thought Anita Antoinette’s take on Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” was underwhelming at best. She definitely had the attitude and stage presence required of the kiss-off to “skinny bitches,” but in terms of vocals, she left me wanting more. But hey, girlfriend had some killer dance moves, and apparently the judges totally loved it.
Please visit the EW Community to read season 2 semifinalist Katrina Parker’s take on last night’s episode of The Voice.