'The Voice' Recap: Singing Too Early — or Too Little, Too Late

Carson Daly announced that finalists will compete with original songs for the first time since the series' first season
Tyler Golden/NBC
'The Voice'

Later this season on The Voice, the final singers will perform original songs, created with the help of their coach, Carson Daly announced at the beginning of Monday's episode. It will only mark the second time contestants will compete with new work — though winners have performed after receiving the crown, finalists haven't been tested with new songs since the series' first season.

Until then, the top 12 took the stage — and with weekly double eliminations and no more coaches' saves, playing it safe might be showing voters too little, too late, and could be the thing that sends a singer home.

Pharrell Williams' save went to Sugar Joans. Her cover of Al Green's "Take Me to the River" felt "retro but incredible" to Gwen Stefani, while Adam Levine and Blake Shelton did appreciate hearing her vocal versatility.

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Stefani's save, Ryan Sill, tried to win over America with Duran Duran's "Ordinary World," putting the No Doubt frontwoman's rock sensibilities to good use. Levine and Williams noted how suited he is for rock 'n' roll, and stood corrected about their earlier impressions of him. Said Williams, "Pick a lane where no one can do what you can do, and stay there, and that is what you should be doing right there.

Shelton's saved singer, Jessie Pitts, put her indie spin on Swedish House Mafia's "Don’t You Worry Child," including a intro with piano accompaniment. Stefani loved the deconstructed approach, and Levine encouraged her "to keep exploring the big part of your voice," since she showed a bit of fear when reaching for the high notes.

Damien, of Team Adam, hoped to showcase his passionate side on The Hollies' "He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother," and got a standing ovation from Williams after an incredibly impressive ending. "The team effort going on here is solid," added Shelton of the synergy between Levine and Damien.

Williams' DaNica Shirey took on Radiohead's "Creep," but with a touch of soul and a youthful image that put a new depth on the song. Stefani called her performance "shocking," and Levine said that she's consistently amazing, which makes the choices hard.

Team Gwen's Taylor John Williams went deep and dark with Bread's "If," which fit right in his emotional spectrum but showed off new parts of his voice. Shelton said his darkness shines through and makes him incredibly unique, and Pharrell agreed.

Shelton's Reagan James entertained on Lenny Kravitz's "It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over," which she made her own, said Williams, kindly. Levine noted the breathy moments, which were probably due to nerves yet again but did get in the way of his full enjoyment of the performance.

Team Pharrell's Luke Wade tried on his first timely track, Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud," and though he started singing a few measures too early, he regained his composure before the chorus and let his long notes soar. Levine greatly applauded how he was able to recover on live television, and Stefani admitted, "It makes you more human — people don't care about that, they actually like when that happens."

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Levine's Matt McAndrew went for Hozier's "Take Me to Church," after which Williams admitted he can't wait to buy his post-Voice album. Though Levine and Shelton couldn't hear him momentarily (because McAndrew's microphone was at a low volume,) they relied on the audience's overwhelming response.

Team Blake's Craig Wayne Boyd took on the George Strait classic, "You Look So Good in Love," after which Levine applauded Shelton and Boyd's decision: "We know how good you are at getting the room riled up, but we needed you to have a moment like this." Williams saw how his Southern rock grooves have been positively influenced by Shelton as well.

Levine's save, Chris Jamison, went way recent with Nick Jonas' latest single "Jealous" with a gorgeous falsetto that got the studio audience screaming for quite a long time. Williams called it his best performance yet, and Stefani noted how well-suited the song choice was for his vocal range.

Stefani's Anita Antoinette closed the episode with Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" to showcase her Jamaican culture (hopefully without exploiting it, although we're worried it'll soon step into ill-advised gimmick territory, as it did for fellow Jamaican Tessanne Chin last year). Levine commended her for being an ambassador for her hometown, and Shelton noted her calming tone on the song.

What do you think of tonight's performances? Sound off in the comments below!

Email: Ashley.Lee@THR.com
Twitter: @cashleelee

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