And we're live! The atmosphere last night was electrifying. To me, there's nothing more exciting than live television, and we unveiled this new set that was big and bright and enormous. It felt like the Starship Enterprise, it was so huge. And the crowd was gigantic, filled with anticipation for these live shows, which are just so much fun to do. It's just like one big party. Backstage, we have this trailer village, we call it, where all of the coaches and myself and Christina Milian hang out together. It's just like camp! The whole atmosphere at the beginning of the live shows was just electrifying. You walk backstage and you see Sera Hill's dancers rubbing oil on their bodies, or you hear Chris Mann's warm-up (which is so loud, of course, and echoes throughout the whole room), or you find Moses Stone stretching. There's a lot of last minute prep, and it's all really fun. It's such a circus... in a good way!
Doing live TV is like being one of those swimmers you see every now and then that do the Polar Bear Plunge, where they swim in freezing water. It takes your body a second to get acclimated to live TV: I'm wearing an earpiece where I have a whole control room of people helping me, telling me to move the show along, and I've got a ton of business to get to, so for me it took a few minutes in the very beginning to welcome everybody and find my bearing. Then once we got to that first performance from Jermaine Paul, I could breathe easy!
I thought the performances last night were really strong. To start, I loved Erin Willett's performance of "Living for the City." Look at the uphill road that Erin's gone down this season, with her father passing away during the battle rounds. If anybody showed courage by simply performing, it was her, not to mention that she ended up being one of the standouts last night. There was certainly divine inspiration on Erin Willett's side last night in the form of her father, and her family must be so proud of her this morning. Not only did she get up on that stage in front of millions of Americans and perform, but she knocked it out of the park.
The live shows show you not only who has a voice and who can improve (and there were some good improvements last night, by Ashley De La Rosa, for example, and even Moses for that matter), but you also get to see who can command a stage and who can work with the other elements, as true performers have to. You can see who's at home up there, who's got that real confidence, and how they can build on that.
Even if they weren't your favorite performers, I want to highlight the confident people last night. Erin was certainly one of them. Jermaine Paul, definitely one. Obviously, Jesse Campbell. And I thought Charlotte Sometimes was very comfortable onstage. I really liked her take on Paramore, which showed off the range of her voice, which is pretty distinctive.
Chris Mann was also a standout. I absolutely loved his performance. You look at somebody like Chris and you start to think, I would have paid 10 bucks to walk in this place to watch this guy sing. And now you're starting to see that some of these artists could put out an album right now, and it would sell. They're real entertainers.
I loved Jordis Unga. She hit one note in the middle there during "Alone" when you really felt the power in her voice. She needed to bring it last night, and I thought she gave a really strong performance and delivered.
Naia Kete got advice from Blake on her rendition of "Turning Tables." She wanted to stay true to who she was, to that reggae vibe, and Blake wanted her to stay close to the original Adele record. You saw that conversation play out, and she ended up putting her faith in Blake, and now we'll see if it pays off tonight in the eliminations. Blake wanted people to see that she was more than just a reggae artist, and ultimately I think it showcased her unique singing style outside of reggae.
If you think Moses is good but not great, and you're wondering why Christina likes Moses so much, it's because he came to the table with all these ideas. Behind the scenes, some of these people are actually taking their shot at artistry and working with our producers and their coaches to build these mini Grammy performances, pulling out all the stops. This is their moment, and their input counts, so they're all working closely with their coaches to get the vibe they want in their performances.
Probably the best example of the way an artist really got to produce their own performance was Lindsey Pavao. She worked with Paul Merkovich and the band on recreating the sound of that Gotye song to make it a little more dubstep, and a little more artsy with the smoke and the masks and the whole vibe. That style is very Lindsey Pavao.
The mood with the coaches was really fun and light in the beginning, which was set by Cee Lo's whole get-up with the wig. And then it just seemed to get serious. There was a sense of earnestness to this competition that we've never seen before between the coaches. Did you all notice that, too? Between Blake and Christina, especially, since they were up against each other. At this point, the coaches are all fighting for their artists, and you can see it in the banter. Of course, it’s all hugs backstage, but things are starting to get serious! They're so unpredictable, these coaches!
Tonight's new for us. We have a new element that's a kind of last chance effort for artists to save themselves. At the top of show, we're going to come right out and announce the six artists — three from each team — who are safe, and then the remaining six will have the chance to sing for their lives, and their coach can only save one. And what's really interesting is that tonight you're going to see how in touch our coaches are with America. They've had praise for all of their artists, but finally we'll get to see what America thinks. It'll be interesting to see if they're in sync... no pun intended.
(As told to Marc Snetiker)
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