'The Voice' live blog: Live playoffs continues with Team Shakira and Team Blake

shakira-usher-the-voice-live-playoffs-nbc.jpgIt's night two of the live playoffs on Season 4 of "The Voice," with reigning champ Blake Shelton and newbie coach Shakira's teams taking the stage to prove they deserve the shot to make it to the Top 12. With Adam Levine and Usher's teams taking the night off after a rousing night one, which of tonight's singers will rise to the occasion and which will crumble under the pressure?

Shakira is so cute with her nerves: "All my fingernails are going to be gone tonight."

Blake taking his team out to karaoke to get them ready for their first live performance is hysterical. It's quite in line with Blake's whole goofball persona. All those country kiddos singing "We Are Family" was cute.

This group performance of Little Big Town's "Boondocks" is proof that Team Blake will be playing to their base this season. I'd be shocked if there's much stretching outside of the country mold with any of these guys, under Blake's tutelage -- which is sort of a bummer, no matter how good they sound. That complain aside, their team performances are bound to be on point because they're all on the very same page. They're a giant country music supergroup!

It's time for Shakira's comeback kid, Garrett Gardner. His coach is having him take on John Lennon's "Imagine," which he's going to perform while playing the piano. It's bold for her to have him take the track on as a rock anthem, but we'll see, I suppose.

I like Garrett's performance, but I'm really interested to see how other people react to it. His voice seems to be growing stronger and more assured every time he sings, which is wonderful to watch happen. This show should be about growth and he exemplifies that. Adam's sentiment that it's hard to watch people other than John Lennon perform this song is one I expect a lot of people share.

Oh, yay, our first cut to Christina Milian in the Sprint Skybox. Zzzzzz.

Up next, Team Blake's Holly Tucker, who's worried about not looking like a superstar. Don't be silly, girl. You know you're beautiful. She's singing LeAnn Rimes' "How Do I Live," which she ought to knock out of the park.

There are a few wonky notes in Holly's performance, but for the most part, she's got a strong hold on the song.  Oof, until those unwise runs at the end. That almost broke the whole thing down. Shakira tells her she's very reliable, pitch-wise. Huh? Did we listen to the same thing?

Time for Kris Thomas from Team Shakira, who's performing Bruno Mars' "When I Was Your Man." There's some mentioning of bullying for his voice in his package which I bet didn't happen as much as he wants people to believe.

The performance is a bit pedestrian. I think Kris is relying much too much on his vibrato tonight; he trills almost every elongated note, rather than holding it. He also seems like he's pushing the tempo, rather than staying with his accompaniment. Nerves can do that to you, but it needs to be overcome. His stage presence is too tense, as Adam notes. Blake says he likes the nervous energy, which is strange because all the nervousness did was bring that performance down.

Up next, the only duo ever to make it to the live shows, The Swon Brothers. I'm very interested to see how they fare when it's up to America's vote and not their coach. Blake's having them sing "Fishin' in the Dark" by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Of course that's what they're called.

I think Blake's proud of having a duo finally make it to the live stage, but I don't think these two are the ones who should carry that distinction. Having all four of Blake's artists sing on the same night is going to grow tedious, with all of them bringing such bland, basic versions of country music to the stage. Usher says it's pretty cool, which I don't believe. Not for one second.

It's time for Blake and Shakira to take the stage. Of course it's country. Can Blake sing anything else? I don't think this performance of Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" is nearly as good as Adam and Usher's performance last night. Maybe I'm just a little cranky that tonight's been overtaken by bland country music. Blah.

Team Shakira's Karina Iglesias is up next. Phew. Finally something non-country. (I know I seem like a major hater right now, but we need variety.) Karina's taking on Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." There's something about her introduction that sounds just off to me, I can't put my finger on it. She sounds great once the band kicks in, prompting Adam to admit he shouldn't have let her go.

Justin Rivers is up next, who will be performing "Meet In The Middle" by Diamond Rio which is ironic because no one on Blake's team will meet me in the middle when it comes to how much they want to sing country and how much I don't want them to. (Kidding. Sort of.)

I mean, what is there to say? All of Blake's country artists are good. Their performances will always be good, but they will never be surprising or exciting or revelatory if they simply continue to sing country music. The problem with Blake stacking a team with all country artists is that they cancel each other out. No one on his team will really shine because they all do the same thing. (I'll step off my soapbox now. I promise.)

Time for Team Shakira's group performance, which ought to be interesting because these four singers are so disparate. Shakira's having the team take on Queen's "We Are Champions," with choreography from Hi-Hat, the silliest named choreographer in the business.

During the performance, it seemed like the choruses got awfully quiet, compared to the verses. I'm not sure what to blame that on, but it was bizarre. Sasha Allen, my Team Shakira fave, sounded incredible. The rest sound good, too, but Sasha stole it.

Danielle Bradbery, Blake's youngest country star, is up next. He's having her sing "Maybe It Was Memphis" by Pam Tillis. Predictably, she sounds great. I'd say she's my favorite artist on Blake's team, if only her inexperience lends itself to a much more natural performance. This girl was just born to sing. Adam tells her she's one of the ones to beat. All Shakira can say is, "Holy crap." Indeed.

At long last, it's time for Team Shakira's Sasha, taking on The Beatles' "Oh! Darling." Sasha's performance of this classic is so powerful, it's almost unbelievable. This is the kind of thing I tune into "The Voice" for. That's the sort of number to close a show with. America better vote accordingly for Sasha tonight.

What did you think of Team Blake and Team Sasha tonight, "Voice" fans? Who do you hope makes it through to the Top 12?
Photo/Video credit: NBC