'The Voice' live blog: The live shows begin with the Top 16

shakira-adam-levine-usher-blake-shelton-the-voice-live-blog-nbc.jpgWell, "Voice" fans, it's the moment we've all been waiting for: The live shows. With last week's knockout rounds whittling the playing field down to the Top 16, it's time to see what coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Shakira and Usher have done to prepare their artists. Who will rise to the top and who will flounder? 

Adam's first artist to hit the stage is Amber Carrington, performing Rihanna's "Stay." It's really exciting to see Amber step outside her comfort zone. She sounds really terrific on the moody ballad. There's still a taste of her twang present in the vocal, but it was really wise to switch it up and show America that she's not just about country.

"Normally it would suck to be the first artist to sing in a live show," Blake says. "I gotta say it's gonna suck to sing after that." Solid start to the season, indeed.

Christina Milian in the fancy new Sprint Skybox. Zzzzzz.

Usher's first team member to take the stage is dreamboat Josiah Hawley. The hunk is tasked by his coach to take on Muse's "Starlight." A great song, not so sure how he'll handle it, based on those rehearsal clips.

Live on stage, he handles the song better than I would've thought. There are certain moments where his voice quivers or falls off the note, but he doesn't ever seem lost in it. It seems like Usher made the right song choice. Shakira praises him for his honesty in the performance, while Blake calls it "haunting" but "energetic."

Shining star on Adam's team, Sarah Simmons, is up next. Adam wants her to bring a quiet moment to the stage because she hasn't had one yet, so he's having her sing Sarah McLaclan's "Angel," which she's dedicating to the memory of her friend who passed away. I'm grabbing some tissues, to prepare.

I mean, is there anything Sarah can't do? She absolutely slays this song, and she looks gorgeous in that Florence Welch-esque gown. Chills, you guys. Chills. The coaches are overwhelmed by the performance, with Blake admitting he can't keep saying how much he likes her because it isn't helping his artists advance. Adam notes that the stillness of the room, rapt in her performance, is evidence enough of how well she did.

Hey guys, "Today"s Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker are in the house. Gotta love that network synergy.

Time for Team Usher's Cathia, who's tackling Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing," which is a ballsy song choice from her coach. His coaching technique of waltzing with her is, well, it's interesting.

Maybe Usher knows what he's doing? Cathia handles the song really well. I mean, real talk, she's no Whitney. But, there's a strength to the vocal that I hadn't noticed yet. Shakira notes that Usher set the bar too high, which I don't disagree with.

The moment they've teased all night, it's time for Adam and Usher to tackle "Superstition"! The coaching superstars sounds great together on the Stevie Wonder classic and the horn section is incredible.

Adam's obsession Caroline Glaser is up next. The way he stole her when Blake was ready to cut her loose was adorable. Tonight, he's having her hit the stage with Ed Sheeran's "The A Team," which is a beautiful song.

Caroline brings her typical coffee-house charm to the stage, and the number sounds perfectly, but I keep waiting for the pay-off moment that she and Adam talked about during rehearsals. There's certainly nothing bad about the performance, but there's no real moment that would drive the crowd wild. Adam tells her that she doesn't need a powerhouse moment, that she's unique enough to catch attention based on what she already does well.

Up next is Usher's R&B stud, Vedo, who's shockingly never heard of Phil Collins. Jokes on you, Vedo -- you're singing "Against All Odds"! I'll admit, I haven't been a huge fan of Vedo's so far. I don't think he deserved to win his battle against the delightful Jessica Childress.

His performance is alright, but it sort of fell apart towards the end. It was the first of the night that felt amateur-ish. Shakira seems hesitant to to share her own thoughts, which leads me to believe she wasn't much of a fan. Usher says he was 100 percent pleased and expects him to make it to the next round. Whatever.

This Team Usher/Christina Milian interview? Oof.

Team Adam will perform for the first time together on Florence + the Machine's "Shake It Out," but not before we get to watch Adam take the ladies shopping at his family's store. The ladies sound incredible together, proving this team Adam has amassed is quite strong. I'll admit that her solo bits seemed tough for Caroline, who definitely doesn't have the belting power of the other three.

Michelle Chamuel's going to take on Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" because Usher says he wants to be vulnerable with the audience, hoping it'll be a breakout moment for her. The intro is a little shaky and, as she takes out her earpiece, I'm wondering if there were some audio issues. She recovers masterfully and, true to her coach's hopes, she did create a beautiful moment. All of the coaches agree, with Shakira praising Michelle for her authenticity and Blake telling his team to take notes.

Last up, it's Adam's other buzzed-about artist, Judith Hill. Adam's having her sing "Feeling Good" by Nina Simone, which is such an overdone song on these shows, but I don't doubt that Judith can turn it out.

Stunning in something straight of Cher's closet, Judith really makes the song her own. There's a jazzy element, wherein she plays the melody, and it sounds terrific. Fighting that vocal nodule or not, that final high note creates the exact moment she was hoping for. Can Judith be beat?

Coming up tomorrow: Shakira and Blake's teams take the stage. Fingers crossed we get a cool duet between those two, as well!

What did you think of tonight's performances, "Voice" fans? Who was your favorite?





Photo/Video credit: NBC