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As the pressure intensifies on The Voice, the top ten contestants took the opportunity to shed another emotional layer and showcase their versatility. Guest mentors Sheryl Crow, Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, Pharrell Williams and Cee Lo Green returned to offer the coaches a second opinion on the potentially game-changing performances — some of which turned out much better than others on Monday night.
Adam Levine kicked off the two-hour broadcast with a visually rich performance of Maroon 5’s new single “Love Somebody,” singing to Shakira, coiffed with a voluminous lion mane, and a very chic Usher, dressed in an all-white ensemble. The broadcast checked in regularly with Blake Shelton and his contestants, whose loved ones are currently affected by the Oklahoma tornado tragedy.
Holly Tucker took a risk by revealing her religious side with the hymnal “How Great Thou Art,” explaining that it would be dishonest of her to not to share her spiritual priority with viewers. Though altogether graceful and enjoyable, the choice was a departure from what she’s performed before. “What an incredible statement to make on a show that obviously, everybody is watching,” said Usher, while Shakira deemed the performance “heavenly.”
Hoping to top last week’s success, The Swon Brothers opted for an upbeat performance of Randy Houser‘s “How Country Feels” to truly showcase each of their solo voices on the verses. The coaches agreed that it was nothing but fun and applauded the duo’s emotional range onstage thus far.
Danielle Bradbery chose to sing “Heads Carolina, Tails California” by Jo Dee Messina — a relatively mature song, despite being the youngest contestant in the competition. During rehearsals, Crow opened up to Bradbery about her battle with breast cancer to help inspire her to connect with the audience. Though she was a bit off on some of the high notes in the chorus, her performance was another big hit. “You came out here and made country cool once again,” said Usher, praising Shelton in turn. “I understand now why he’s won, and why he’s such an incredible coach.”
Levine challenged Judith Hill to not only perform “The Way You Make Me Feel” as an upbeat song to add to her repertoire but also one by her mentor and former duet partner, Michael Jackson. Her jazz-influenced introduction and unique phrasing gave feelings of both originality and tribute, as opposed to the Jackson imitations that fellow contestant Kris Thomas and eliminated singer Vedo offered last week. “That was equal parts you paying homage to someone who was a big part of your life and you being you,” said Carson Daly to a teary Hill, as Usher genuinely echoed, “I miss him. I miss him so much.”
Amber Carrington sang “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson (who is to Carrington this season as Avril Lavigne was to season three winner Cassadee Pope, in my opinion). She struggled to create a memorable ending moment in the song during rehearsals but nailed the track’s closing during the live show and blew the coaches away — wind theatrics aside. Shakira called it a perfect mix of country and pop for Carrington.
Sarah Simmons chose to showcase her sassy side with “Mamma Knows Best” by Jessie J — a performance dedicated to all the men who didn’t treat her well in her past. The powerhouse ballad proved that her voice pairs as well with electric guitars and booming trumpets as with a simple piano. “My gosh, you can’t fake what you just did — that was rock ‘n’ roll,” saluted Shelton. “Sexy!”
Refreshed after a Mother’s Day visit from her family in New York, Broadway alum Sasha Allen was assigned current chart-topper “Next to Me” by Emeli Sande to loosen her up and spotlight her marketability in pop music. “I think it was time for you to come out, be up-tempo and rock out,” Shelton praised her. “Most importantly, it was a great vocal performance, but we’ve come to expect that from you.”
Falsetto crooner Kris Thomas put his vulnerability — and his constant emotions about his on-and-off relationship — on hold for Miguel‘s “Adorn.” Though the rendition was much more lighthearted and current for Thomas, Usher and Levine noted that he was constantly “thinking” about the performance while he was in it. But a passionate Shakira fought back, telling them to give her singer a break. “We’re covering the talent of America, not who’s got the strongest personality not to feel nerves at all,” she explained aggressively, pushing Thomas’ constructive critics to hide behind their red chairs.
Once again, Josiah Hawley struggled to hit the high notes of Coldplay’s “Clocks” during rehearsals. Though he turned them out with less strain while onstage, the performance — like his others thus far — felt too much like an imitation of Chris Martin‘s original vocals. “There were certain moments where you weren’t comfortable,” said Levine of Hawley’s inconsistency throughout the song. Nevertheless, the ladies of the audience had to be shushed repeatedly while Usher offered words of consolation.
Closing out the night was Michelle Chamuel with “Just Give Me a Reason” by P!nk and Nate Ruess of fun. — a perfect vocal blend of her last two performances, complete with her signature onstage theatrics. “You take the competition away from us because we’re all beaming over the success that you’ve had,” said Levine, while her coached deemed it the performance of the night.
The two singers with the lowest votes will be sent home on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. on NBC.
What did you think of tonight’s performances? Which singers deserve to advance, and which should be sent home? And which won tonight’s hair wars: Shakira’s lion mane or Christina Milian‘s fiery updo? Sound off in the comments section below.
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