The Voice Playoffs: Teams Adam + Gwen in the Spotlight

The Voice - Season 9

The Voice has cut down to the Top 20, but as we learned at the top of the show, there’s a new twist this season where the coaches are allowed to bring back a former competitor for a second chance. How will this affect the proceedings? Simply put, it will just make the final cuts that much harder.

As The Voice begins their live shows, Teams Adam and Gwen will get the opening night spotlight. So without further adieu, let’s see how The Voice playoffs begin.

Blaine Mitchell (Team Adam) – As many times as Adam stated that Blaine reminded him of Michael Hutchence, it should come as no surprise that Mitchell chose the INXS track “Never Tear Us Apart” to sing. We learn in the package that the song has special significance to him as he recently got married and when he performs the song, he sings to his new bride (and some rather uncomfortable friend or family member likely wondering why he’s in the close up next to her). Mitchell did a solid choice in picking one of the more dynamic INXS tracks, allowing him to showcase his command of the more tender moments to hitting bigger notes, but it’s hard to match the attitude and magnetism of Hutchence on the original.

Blake says it’s interesting that he also does country, but by going to Adam he’s been de-hillbillied and he gives Adam credit for Blaine’s transformation. Pharrell says it was the perfect song choice not only for his voice but to showcase him as a performer. Gwen compliments his body language and stage presence and says the song was perfect for him. Adam says it was a perfect storm of the song and the events of his life bringing him into totally embodying the track.

Regina Love (Team Gwen) – Regina Love has powered through some soulful classics so far in the competition, but Gwen gets Regina perhaps the biggest song of today — Adele’s “Hello.” Regina is over the moon thrilled and can’t wait to put her stamp on the track. But when it comes time for the performance, the performance early on is rather void of dynamics. It isn’t until the latter portion that Regina shows her power and range.

Adam says he misses Regina and is proud of what she’s accomplished. Pharrell calls her performance moving and loved how dramatic the song was. Gwen says she’s honored to be part of the journey and feels that she’s learning from Regina as she goes along.

Keith Semple (Team Adam) – It looks as though the rockers go first for Team Adam, as Keith Semple gets the second slot after Blaine Mitchell. Keith chooses Mr. Big’s anthem “To Be With You,” staying the course of what he’s done so far. Keith grabs his acoustic guitar, but it doesn’t hold him back from connecting with the crowd, as he ditches it midway through. He also hits some pretty solid “wow” notes along the way.

Blake says he worried about the gaps where the backup singers kind of take the lead, but Keith was such a pro and a solid ad-libber that it didn’t matter here. Gwen compliments the tone of Keith’s voice and Adam says that the song helped him to develop an identity and felt he did an awesome job.

Shelby Brown (Team Adam) – While Shelby is rooted in country, we get to see her sing Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good,” which is going to give her a chance to show off some attitude. This may have been one of her best performances to date, as her voice is perfectly tailored to the track.

Blake is ticked off at how good it was and says she’s a cross between Trisha Yearwood and Carrie Underwood. Pharrell is a fan and compliments her decision to really let go on a note and show her texture at the end of the song. Adam adores Shelby and feels she just crushed her performance.

Korin Bukowski (Team Gwen) – Gwen is giving Korin a chance to show the more tender part of her voice, with the indie artist tackling Sarah McLachlan’s “Adia.” After sussing out the vocal approach, Gwen brings in her style team to give Korin a makeover. Vocally Korin does a solid job, though there was one moment she seemed behind the music. However, the more vulnerable side to her vocal approach was something that seemed to truly connect.

Adam thought it was a really cool performance, and felt he discovered something new about Korin’s voice that she hasn’t shown before. Blake says she did a great job connecting with the song. Gwen says she loves Korin’s look and felt it was really a vocal challenge that she met.

Ellie Lawrence (Team Gwen) – As stated, the “come back” is in play and Gwen chooses to bring back Ellie Lawrence. For her performance, she takes on Elle King’s “Ex’s and Oh’s.” Gwen has her hold back on the excessive rasp after the first rehearsal. To her credit, Ellie owns the stage and takes Gwen suggestions to heart, so that when her rasp comes in late in the performance, it really lands.

Adam says she picked a really great time to have her best performance and it felt like it was truly her thing. Blake says it was his favorite performance of the night. Pharrell says she just seemed like she was having a really good time. Gwen says she manned the stage and her personality truly came out.

Jeffery Austin (Team Gwen) – Jeffery chooses “Say You Love Me” by Justin Blair and says he loves the song. Like Korin before, Gwen not only addresses his vocals, but discusses his look and presentation. His performance is pretty spot on, showcasing not only the emotion, but the soul in his voice. He gets his “church” moment on too, with what sounds like a backing choir really boosting the latter portion of the performance.

Adam feels that Jeffery has the voice to potentially win the whole thing. Pharrell says he feels that Jeffery had the best performance of the night and nailed the emotion of the song. Gwen was in awe of the performance and feels she’s winning with her performers this evening.

Braiden Sunshine (Team Gwen) – Braiden returns and we learn that he got an invite to sing with Blues Traveler after his Blind Audition performance. His curls are back since Gwen gave him his makeover, but that will soon be remedied before he hits the stage.  Gwen gives Braiden “Everything I Own” by Bread and he has the tender touch needed to bring the song to life and his confidence just continues to grow with each performance.

Adam feels that Braiden wanted to do more than what the song offered. Blake says he feels that the song didn’t offer the breakout moment, but he does continue to step up his game with each performance. Gwen loves his voice and the emotion he brought to the end of the song.

Amy Vachal (Team Adam) – Amy is thrilled to have been stolen by Adam and admits to listening to one of Maroon 5’s albums over and over as a teen. Staying in the vein of the old timey classics that have done so well for her so far, she gets Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight.” How smooth is Amy? She gives it just the right inflections and scats about the stage, clearly feeling the swing that Frank brought to the original. Adam and Pharrell both give her a standing ovation.

Blake begs her to do a Christmas album and says she has a perfect crooner type voice. He adds that the song feels like home. Pharrell calls the performance effortless and feels like she could win. Adam says that was not “The Voice,” it was an artist performing on the show.

Viktor Kiraly (Team Gwen) – We’ve seen Viktor master soulful classics, but Gwen gives him something a little more upbeat with the Lisa Stansfield favorite, “All Around the World.” But Gwen suggest a change in the arrangement that could be a bit of a risk. He’s silky smooth, and hits a falsetto note that comes out of nowhere. Not sure I dig the arrangement, but it appears to showcase Viktor’s vocal range and talents and he’s one of the more magnetic performers when it comes to owning the stage.

Adam Levine feels he did an amazing job. Blake says that Team Gwen is beating up on Team Adam tonight. Gwen says Viktor was the whole package from the singing to the moves to the look.

Chance Pena (Team Adam) – Chance is Adam’s “come back” artist, and the teen plans to use his second chance by taking on the Civil Wars’ “Barton Hollow.” He and Adam work on some of his technical issues. During the performance, his unique tone appears to be the perfect fit for the bluesy song. The track is definitely a standout as it reaches its powerful ending.

Blake says that he consistently gives all of himself into his performance. Adam thinks he did a great job and says he’s rooting for him no matter what happens.

Jordan Smith (Team Adam) – Jordan has thrived so far with modern pop hits and he gets another chance to do so here, taking on Beyonce’s “Halo.” Adam says the days of karaoke are over and really wants Jordan to put a stamp on his version of the track, so they work on subtle changes to the arrangement. It isn’t until the end of the slow building track where the emotion really shines through, but when it does, it’s powerful. All four coaches give a standing ovation.

Pharrell says there’s nothing left to say and that God has signed his voice. Gwen says all she can think of is God when he sings. Adam says people just draw amazing energy from Jordan.

And that’s it for Night 1 of The Voice Live Playoffs. Voting is underway for each of the performers on Team Adam and Team Gwen. But half of each team will have sang their final note by the time Wednesday’s special airing is completed. Before we go, let’s offer our rankings for each team based on Monday’s performances.

Team Gwen

6. Korin Bukowski
5. Braiden Sunshine
4. Regina Love
3. Ellie Lawrence
2. Viktor Kiraly
1. Jeffery Austin

Team Adam

6. Chance Pena
5. Blaine Mitchell
4. Keith Semple
3. Amy Vachal
2. Shelby Brown
1. Jordan Smith

Be sure to tune in Tuesday night at a special time, 8PM ET/PT, on NBC as The Voice live playoffs continue with Teams Blake and Pharrell getting their shot at the performances.

THE VOICE -- "Live Playoffs"  -- Pictured: Shelby Brown -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)
THE VOICE — “Live Playoffs” — Pictured: Shelby Brown — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

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