It's night two of the playoffs, time for Team Shakira and Team Adam to take the stage to determine who goes on to the live shows and who goes home. There are no steals and no second chances. Here is everything you need to know about tonight's show.
Is Shakira too good a coach?
Because tonight her team is going to kill it. Kristen Merlin, the low-key country singer, sets the tone first by getting hold of Carrie Underwood's "Two Black Cadillacs" and hitting it out of the park. Shakira is so thrilled by the performance she can barely contain herself, hopping out of her chair, giving Kristen a standing ovation, hollering over the other coaches when they try to talk. Blake, the country guy, calls it "as flawless as a live performance can be" and compliments Kristen on being able to sing through the audience having the worst rhythm he's ever heard. Clearly, she has set a very high bar for everyone else.
Next is Deja Hall, the youngest performer left on The Voice. The 16-year-old has glammed her look up a bit for her performance of Jordin Sparks' "Battlefield." Shakira has been encouraging Deja to have confidence in herself and her talent and to take command of the stage. "Battlefield" is a tough song, but Deja hits and holds some big notes, to the point where Usher worries she is almost over-singing the track. It's a strong performance, and afterwards Deja feels good about it.
Tess Boyer is next. The twice-stolen artist who finally landed on Team Shakira chooses to sing "Human" by Christina Perri. Tess is the dark horse of the contest, having lost in two battles and still given strong enough performances to get stolen by Blake in the first round and then Shakira, whom Tess chose over Usher and Adam after all three made a play for her, in the second. She gives such a powerful performance of "Human" that the coaches spend more time chewing each other out for continually letting her go than they do critiquing her. "You and you are total morons," Adam tells Usher and Blake, though he also is self-aware enough to call himself a ding-dong for not pushing his button for her in the blind auditions. Only Shakira is the non-moron in this crowd, apparently.
After Tess comes another Shakira steal. Gravel-voiced bluesy singer Patrick Thomson started on Team Adam, but Shakira, a sucker for gravelly voices, grabbed him after he lost his first battle to Kat Perkins. Patrick challenges himself with Ray LaMontagne's "Trouble." Shakira pushes him to connect to the emotions of the song and really open up. He takes the stage and gives a great performance, showing a grit and raspiness that Adam admires afterwards. Still, there is a question of whether Patrick has hit his ceiling.
The final Team Shakira performance is Dani Moz, the big-voiced singer who has, like Kristen Merlin, quietly but solidly made her presence felt all season on The Voice. She chooses Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory" and a stripped-down arrangement of the song that has her sitting at the piano and singing. It's Dani's natural element, sort of like Tori Amos, and she hits a big note at the end that has Shakira on her feet applauding and rubbing her arms to indicate goose bumps.
Then it's time for Shakira to make her choices, always the toughest moment of the night. The first singer she chooses to move on is Tess Boyer, who almost falls over with shock. Her second choice is Kristen Merlin, which is the closest thing to a no-brainer you'll see on The Voice. The remaining artists take a moment to thank Shakira for her coaching before she makes her choice. The music swells as she decides on Dani Moz, who almost breaks down in tears as she sinks into a crouch. Team Shakira is set for the live rounds.
The defending champ's team is still a force to be reckoned with.
First up for Team Adam is singing barista Delvin Choice, still staying away from the hairstyle he termed "The Lobster." He picks Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," always a tough choice. You've got to really bring it to sing Al Green, but if anyone has the energy, it's Delvin. He keeps it slow, sitting on a stool and singing quietly for the first chunk of his performance before building up to a powerful finish that has Adam on his feet whooping. Delvin seems like a lock for the next round.
Next is Jake Barker, a Team Adam steal singing Maroon 5's "She Will Be Loved." Jake's got that remarkable falsetto that had Blake, Adam and Shakira all trying to steal him after he lost his first battle, so he's certainly a wanted quantity who has shown great talent so far; but singing one of the coach's songs is always a gutsy decision. He does a slower arrangement of "She Will Be Loved." The coaches seem a little underwhelmed. Did Jake do enough to move on?
Kat Perkins, one of the singing nannies on Team Adam this season, picks Journey's "Open Arms." Another gutsy choice, trying to fill Steve Perry's shoes. Kat always seems so nervous offstage, but then she gets onstage and comes alive, nailing whatever challenges a song throws at her. There is no difference tonight, as she takes "Open Arms" and makes it her own by not doing too much and trying to make it sound like a Journey song. Adam and Shakira give her a standing ovation and even the often stoic Usher seems impressed, calling her performance flawless. "You don't hear that very often," says host Carson Daly. Blake sums up his take right from the top: "Open arms, my ass. Open lungs!" Usher can't stop talking about her afterwards. Maybe he's feeling the heat a little.
Morgan Wallen is up next, going back to his country roots by singing "Stay" by Florida Georgia Line. Blake, the veteran country singer, expresses concerns that Morgan is too one-dimensional. Can Adam help him overcome that and show some depth and range with his voice? Onstage it is pretty obvious that Morgan really is a born country singer, to the point that his first coach, Usher, admits he might have made a mistake early on by not pushing Morgan to sing it. Blake compares Morgan's talent to that of the lead singer of Pearl Jam, whose name he can't come up with. "I thought his name was Jeremy," Blake says defensively. "Jeremy's a song, you dimwit. I'm going to punch you in the face," Adam tells him. And oh yeah, Morgan did great too.
Last up for Team Adam is the pint-sized, big-voiced Christina Grimmie. Singing Jason Mraz's "I Won't Give Up," she is hoping to show her full potential after a couple of inconsistent performances in the battle rounds. Adam encourages her to make a plan for the song and stick to it, and that will help her find the consistency she needs to advance to the next round. Her performance earns her a standing ovation and a holler of joy from her coach. Blake, pressing himself to find something to criticize, tells Christina her shirt is too shiny. The other coaches are equally effusive. Seems that Christina has finally found her groove.
Like Team Shakira, everyone on Team Adam killed it tonight, leaving their coach with a tough choice. The five artists line up onstage, awaiting judgment. Adam goes with last first, picking Christina to move on to the live rounds, much to her apparent shock. Next Adam makes what seems like an obvious choice with Delvin Choice. Finally, it is down to the last three, all of whom take a moment to thank Adam for what he has done for them. Adam agonizes as the music swells, and he announces his decision: Kat is the final member of Team Adam to move on. Morgan in particular looks disappointed. But those are the breaks on The Voice.
We've got nine of the final 12 performers set. Tomorrow night, Usher makes his choices. Then it's on to the live rounds, and one step closer to finding this season's Voice.
The artists face elimination as the playoffs continue.