'The Voice' live blog: The Top 20 take the stage as Season 5's live shows begin
Team Adam and Team Blake will take the stage tonight, but before that can happen, it's time for a special performance from coach Christina takes the stage with Flo Rida to perform the rapper's new single. Welcome to live show filler!
(Also, can we get an amen for the return of dapper Adam? Gone are the days of that sloppy, bearded mess of the blind auditions, with the clean-shaven, suited Levine back in his rightful place.)
Up first: Team Blake's Shelbie Z.
Newlywed Shelbie, who tied the knot in mid-September, is kicking things off with Reba McEntire's "Fancy," turning it into a redneck country rock track. As her performance reveals, Shelbie is Blake's strongest country singer in the game. She's solid on Reba's song and country fans will likely vote in droves. The performance isn't likely to win over any non-country fans, but judging past seasons of this show, are there any non-country fans even watching?
Christina praises Shelbie's performance, growls and all, as CeeLo says she's "consistently charismatic." Adam calls it a "pretty flawless performance," with coach Blake saying coma victims would assume she was the world's biggest country star if they woke up and watched -- or something. Either way, everyone loved it.
Taking the stage next: Team Adam's James Wolpert
For his first live performance, Adam wants the unassuming rocker to take on Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You" so the audience can "hear his voice again." James takes the stage with his guitar for a stripped-down performance that lets his incredible vocal ability shine. It's an emotional moment that seems to have the in-house crowd rapt.
Blake exclaims, "You can't be a geek and be that awesome!" Uh, okay. Christina praises James for grounding himself in the song, while CeeLo praises coach Adam's song choice. As for the coach himself? He heralds James' ability to bounce back from his rough showing during the Knockout Rounds, telling his artist, "I could not possibly be more proud of you."
Before we can get to the next performance, it's time for host Carson Daly to read some inane tweets from the Spring Skybox. The upside? No more Christina Milian.
Third up for the night: Team Blake's Nic Hawk
Nic, who's taking on Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," brags about his fans, which seems bold considering he's only sung three times on TV. Let's wait a little longer before announcing your fanbase, huh? Blake jokes that he wants to get Miley Cyrus to come in and twerk on Nic.
What to say about this performance? Nic always goes for it (and his rapping skills are surprisingly adept), but the vocal range of the actual singing seems to be too much of a struggle for him. He can barely hit any of the falsetto notes Robin does in the song, and he seems more focused on his on-stage antics than his vocal. It's the night's first major misstep.
Christina says it was a ton of fun, while CeeLo says he loves to see Nic perform. Adam focuses on the fun of watching Nic, as well. A trend? No one says: "You sang that perfectly." Blake admits Nic harped on his singing, himself. At least Nic has the courage to be honest. Love the show, but sometimes these coaches are too nice. Nic needed to be scolded for biting off more than he could chew.
Up next: Team Blake's Ray Boudreaux
Ray's taking on Marc Broussard's "Home" for his first live performance. There's some talk about swamp pop, which sounds scarier than it probably is. During rehearsals, Blake says it'll be the performance of the night. So, is it? It's certainly a performance of the night. As for the performance of the night? Too soon to tell. That said, Ray sounds great.
Another Team Blake artist takes the stage: Austin Jenckes
For his first live performance, Austin's taking on "She Talks To Angels" by the Black Crowes. It's another performance right in Austin's wheelhouse. All this guy needs his a guitar and a microphone and he can move mountains. He's incredible on the song, both powerful and tender. It's not an easy feat to pull that off, but Austin does it in spades.
Christina says that when Austin sings, she sets her notes aside and just listens, while CeeLo praises his "effortless strength." Blake raves about Austin's ability to not only sing well, but put his entire heart into every performance.
Up next: Team Adam's Grey
As she takes the "Voice" stage live for the first time, Grey's performing Paramore's "Still Into You." The performance isn't bad, per se, but there seems to be a disconnect from her vocal tone and the feel of the sing. It just seems like a ill-fitting glove, which leads to the performance falling apart by the time Grey reaches the bridge. It's not her best showing.
Up now: Team Adam's Will Champlin
Back on Adam's team, Will admits he's got a lot to prove. You can only be runner-up so many times. For his first live performance, he's performing his own arrangement of One Republic's "Secrets." The song's nearly unrecognizable as Will sings it, but that's not a complaint. It sounds like he's brought his own composition to the stage, highlighting his status as an artist and not a mere singer.
Christina says she wishes Will was still on her team, even though she cut him, while CeeLo loves Will's choice to perform at the vintage Rhodes piano. Coach Adam gushes that Will belongs in the competition. It's a lovefest.
Taking the stage next: Team Adam's Preston Pohl
For his first live performance, Preston's taking on B.O.B's "Nothing On You" featuring Bruno Mars, which is a challenge because of the rapping verses. On stage, Preston sounds great, but the timing sounds funky. Those rap verses don't hold up as well as they ought to.
None of the coaches comment on the wonky timing, instead praising Preston's talent, and the talent in the season as a whole. Christina says she can't wait to see where he goes next, while his coach Adam says no one in the competition has anything as unique as Preston. Big words from Mr. Maroon 5.
Up next: Team Blake's Cole Vosbury
For his first song as a member of Blake's team, Cole's taking on Rod Stewart's "Maggie May." Cole sounds great on the track, but he doesn't do anything especially revelatory, which begs the question: At what point on a show like this is just a simple recreation of someone else's performance enough? It's indicative of what Blake lacks as a coach. He rarely challenges his artists to bring anything new to a song. There's nothing bad about this performance. It's good, but it never rises to a point where it's worth raving about.
Last, but not least: Team Adam's Tessanne Chin
For her first live performance, Tessanne's singing "Many Rivers to Cross" by Jimmy Cliff. Taking the stage hoping to do her people proud, it's safe to say that she accomplished what she set out to do. It'll be interesting to see whether the unfamiliar song will limit her votes, but Tessanne knocks this one out of the park. She's a force in this competition, and she better be here next week.
What did you think of tonight's live performances? Who do you think deserves to move on to the Top 12?