The Live Shows, Part 2
You might think the artists coached by Xtina and CeeLo had it easy on the first night of live shows: all they had to do was watch. But for the artists of The Voice, nothing comes easy. An extra day usually just means more time to get nervous, to doubt your song choice, to trip up in final rehearsals. But now it's time to face the music.
As she did last night, Xtina gets the party started. She's invited Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino of A Great Big World onto the show to premiere their new single, "Say Something." It's a pop sugar rush and perfect start to the night. Carson reminds us that voting starts after the last artist of the night has sung.
And now the pressure's on, as the artists pace backstage, readying themselves for their do-or-die performances. In the opening slot is Amber Nicole. Perhaps hoping to follow in the successful footsteps of Season 3's winner, Amber sings Cassadee Pope's current single, "Wasting All These Tears." It's a solid showcase for her polished vocal style, and the coaches have plenty of praise.
CeeLo's Jonny Gray steps to the stage. The Air Force vet has picked a rock anthem in his bid to make the Top 12: The Verve's "Bitter Sweet Symphony." The lilting ballad would stretch any singer's voice, but Jonny's more than up to the task, and his rock roots are on full display, much to the delight of the crowd.
Tamara Chauniece is up next. The R&B phenomenon has picked a great song to put on a show: Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive." The disco number suits her to a T, allowing her to work the stage, the crowd and the coaches like a dancing queen.
Kat Robichaud is all nerves before she takes the stage. But as the music starts, she finds her mark - and her groove. Her take on Mary Lambert's "She Keeps Me Warm" is a more than adequate showcase for Kat's raw energy. CeeLo showers her with praise.
Next up is young Caroline Pennell. The young singer had never performed in front of a large audience until her blind audition, but tonight, she's got a howling crowd, four celebrity coaches and a TV audience of almost 15 million looking on. Her song choice is inspired: The White Stripes' "We're Going to Be Friends." The high school student rocks herself hard, pushing her outsized voice to nail the song's most challenging spots and then some.
Josh Logan is called to the stage. For his first voting performance, he's picked what's now a Voice standard: Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy." The song that brought CeeLo a crossover hit is a challenging but worthy choice. Josh finds a way to make the song his own, bringing the audience and CeeLo into the performance with him.
Team Xtina's Olivia Henken is up next. Since she was a teen, the blonde singer has been performing in vocal competitions, but she knows tonight's showdown is like no other. Her song pick is pop rocker Katy Perry's "Roar." Paul Mirkovich and his band kick into the song's relentless rhythm, and Olivia grabs hold of the song's melody, twisting and turning it to deliver a crashing finish as the audience cheers.
Next up is Stephanie Anne Johnson. The one-time cruise ship singer picks a standard to make her mark: "Georgia on My Mind." Written by Hoagy Carmichael and made famous by Ray Charles, the big soulful ballad is putty in her hands. She combines raw vocal power with an intimate sense of phrasing, making the song truly her own.
Carson calls on Matthew Schuler for the next performance. The charismatic college student has been a fan favorite every time he's stepped into the spotlight. Tonight, he picks a song that few might have guessed: Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball." But Matthew's handled everything the show has thrown at him, and the Miley pop hit is just another chance for him to showcase his soaring vocal range. Before he's done, the crowd is on its feet.
High school student Jacquie Lee gets the final spot. The tiny teen with the big voice picks an iconic song that was a hit more than 40 years before she was born: Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You." The spooky melody becomes something sweet and alluring under Jacquie's command. The performance ignites the crowd - and the coaches are cheering too.
With the night's 10 performances in the books, Carson reminds us that the vote has officially opened. Within 48 hours, what was once a field of 48 hopefuls will be narrowed to just 12. The coaches retreat to their compound to unwind; the artists head back to their hotel rooms to start marshaling their fans to vote, and the audience pours out of the giant Voice stage, exhausted and entertained.