The Voice recap: Live Top 11 Performances
We may have a new frontrunner after tonight
This week, The Voice will narrow its contesant pool to the number of the season — 10 — so the Top 11 are ready to sing their hearts out for a chance to move forward past tomorrow’s elimination round. And while some of the singers are starting to break away from the rest in terms of skills and delivery, everyone’s definitely giving it their all, no doubt about that.
After a heartbreaking opening tribute to Prince, in which the coaches praise the fallen singer’s impact on their own lives — “He did things his way. Always. ‘Til the end,” Adam Levine notes — the performers attempt to rise to the occasion of all the legacies who’ve made this purple stage possible for them.
Here’s a play-by-play of the night’s performances.
1. Shalyah Fearing (Team Adam)
“The Climb” by Miley Cyrus
Shalyah Fearing might be the youngest person left in the competition right now, but she’s definitely been making some of the most mature song decisions of the season. Tonight, she genre-hops away from her usual soul selection while still choosing a song that will showcase her range and power, and — surprise, surprise — everyone’s still goo-goo eyes (and ears) for Shalyah Fearing.
The song requires her to stick around in her middle register for longer than usual, but in an unusual turn of events, it’s actually that range that works best for her tonight as some of her high notes get a little stuck from time to time. But the coaches are right: There’s something so honest about the lyrics as she sings them — considering she’s at the start of her own climb (word play!) — that it all just works.
2. Daniel Passino (Team Pharrell)
“Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper
Daniel Passino’s basically been a case study in consistency (and also one in good dentistry because the man’s teeth are literally perfect), but this week, he’s hoping to reveal himself as “an artist with multi-layers” by performing an acoustic take on a classic from the super duper poppy collection (hint: He’s inspired by Pink for this arrangement). And while he pitter-patters around in the chill zone for most of the song, he ends things on an impressively high note there at the end…and works the crowd with his sparkling smile.
Pharrell encapsulates the moment perfectly in his review by saying, “You took your time. You worked the room. The note choices were signature.” He’s not exactly the underdog of the day by any means, but is he winning over new fans right now with this? Doubtful.
3. Paxton Ingram (Team Blake)
“Break Every Chain” by Tasha Cobbs
Paxton Ingram might be a member of Team Blake, but he knows good advice when he hears it, so this week he’s taken a leaf out of Pharrell Williams’s playbook and chooses to sing a gospel song that can pack on some power. And it’s a great song choice for him, not just because it’s a good technical match for his voice, but also because he connects with it so full-bodily that even when he’s off-key, it’s still pretty goosebump-inducing. Not bad; not bad at all.
NEXT: Confidence is key…
4. Owen Danoff (Team Adam)
“Fire and Rain” by James Taylor
Owen Danoff squeaked through to the Top 11 thanks to a Twitter save from last week’s bottom two (sending home fellow folk artist Emily Keener instead), so he knows he’s got to do something special if he’s going to live up to his coach’s relentless promotion of him during that voting process (ahem). And while he gets special permission from James Taylor to use his song tonight — he’s cool like that, guys — he’s just one of those divisive performers that really can’t take chances like he’s done tonight.
It feels like he’s trying to navigate away from his John Lennon-esque roots and imbibe some rocker action here and there, but he’s too shy to fully commit to the effort, so he ends up going back and forth between modalities — and the transition is not seamless at all. Whatever elevation and energy he is able to throw in gets drawn back from far too quickly to stick. Adam’s still all heart-eyes emoji over him — “I’m always proud of you because I always think you do a fantastic job,” he says — but was it really on par with everyone else tonight?
5. Mary Sarah (Team Blake)
“Johnny & June” by Heidi Newfield
At this point, you either like Mary Sarah or you don’t. It’s that simple really. She’s the twangier version of Carrie Underwood on American Idol season 4 — she’s got the talent, she’s got the direction, and she rarely misses. Tonight’s song choice is the very definition of her wheelhouse, and she does a pretty great job with it, even if most of the coaches don’t know beforehand. (And, as Pharrell points out, she’s a snazzy dresser, for whatever that’s worth.)
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6. Alisan Porter (Team Christina)
“Stay With Me” By Lorraine Ellison
If you were wondering which of this season’s singers can stay at full-tilt the longest, well, now you know. Because Alisan Porter, who usually draws us in a little bit before hitting that throttle, wastes no time getting into hyperdrive and spends almost the entire song belting away (masterfully, of course — of COURSE) on what is basically the epitome of a power ballad.
Adam has basically said this gal is on on cruise control to the victory lane since her first audition, and he’s sticking to that prediction again tonight, telling her, “You’re going to take this thing, and you’re going to win this thing, and you deserve it.” But is anyone kind of getting scream-sing fatigue from this one? A little attention to the mid-octave range might be in order for next week, just sayin’.
7. Bryan Bautista (Team Christina)
“Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars
Bryan Bautista’s got (at least) two things going for him right now. For one thing, he can sing. He’s not perfect, but he’s still definitely got some skills — especially when he hits those ultra-high notes and has everyone fanning themselves off from the hotness of those moments.
Then there’s also the fact that he’s just very, very charming. He’s suave, well-dressed, and clearly feeling himself at all times, and it has a significant impact on his performance. Tonight, he sings a song that’s dedicated to his younger sister, whom he sang it to on her 16th birthday before. The anthem is about encouraging self-esteem and self-love, and he seems like the perfect source to deliver that message because he’s practicing what he’s sing-preaching right now. As they say, confidence is sexy.
NEXT: Is this the new frontrunner?
8. Adam Wakefield (Team Blake)
“Lights” by Journey
When Adam Wakefield says he’s about to “Otis Redding out” a Journey song, the only reasonable response is to grab the arms of your chair and hold on for dear life because this man is about to take you on a ride.
There’s some serious depth to the season 10 talent pool, but Adam Wakefield is the most polished and ready performer of them all right now. He is a musician through and through and just doesn’t slip. Even when he’s pulling out ridiculously high new notes that leave Pharrell literally naming off the record company that should be tuning in to hear this guy go. After tonight, we’re scratching him into our unofficial finals ballot because he’s got as good a chance as anybody to win this whole thing right now.
9. Nick Hagelin (Team Christina)
“Your Body Is a Wonderland” by John Mayer
How far can Nick Hagelin’s popularity carry him through? Nick’s a confident, happy family man who’s earned some serious fan favor over the course of this season for his “energy,” as Christina Aguilera puts. But, let’s be honest. He’s got a very long way to go in the talent-grooming department if he really wants to compete with the season’s heavy-hitters, like Adam or Shalyah or Alisan or Laith. Nick claims to “thrive in this live environment,” but his performance says otherwise, when he bounces his way through a chaotic rendition of the John Mayer song, seeming completely oblivious to any missteps he may have made throughout. Sure, he’s got some nice moments sprinkled into it, but otherwise, it’s a gooey mess. Judging by the audience’s reaction, though, it sounds like he’ll fare just fine in tomorrow’s results show anyway.
10. Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell)
“I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt
Hannah Huston says she “felt very Beyoncé” by working her body into her performance last week, which means 1) Beyoncé’s officially reached the point in her pop culture ownership that it is now correct to use her name as a verb and 2) we should expect to see some Hannah Huston movement tonight and onward because she’s hooked on that feeling.
Really, though, what Hannah should credit herself on is her choice of costuming and stage imagery because she is literally burning it up tonight with this song. Her song is strong and emotional standing alone, but with that environmental oomph thrown into the mix, too she’s reaching next-level impact status. A really, really nice job this time.
11. Laith Al-Saadi (Team Adam)
“Make It Rain” as performed by Ed Sheeran
Laith Al-Saadi’s a seasoned pro with three albums, but he’s still self-deprecating enough to find himself a little shocked to be counted among the Top 11 right now. The only thing that’s surprising, though, is that he has any doubt that deserves the spot right now because his air of confidence on the stage never betrays him.
Laith is in good hands on Team Adam because his coach wisely advises him to draw back on the punches a bit to keep them surprising and entertaining, so when he gets up there and shreds right on through yet again without overloading us with the yells, he’s basically signaled his own green light for the next round.
- Adam Wakefield, Alisan Porter, and Shalyah Fearing will be the first to go through based on votes.
- Paxton Ingram and Hannah Huston will also make it through, but they’ll have to sweat a little bit.
- Nick Hagelin will get voted through because people love his family.
- Mary Sarah and Owen Danoff will be in the bottom two because not enough people have been interested in her style and Owen’s performance left a lot to be desired when it had to be perfect. Owen will go home.
- Team Pharrell: 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