A major change took place tonight in the second season of NBC's "The Voice": The live shows began, and for the first time, the fate of the artists is not just in the coaches' hands — viewers can vote for who they want to stay.
Teams Blake and Christina took the stage first tonight — six team members each, and only half from each team move on to the quarter-finals. It's a swift and heavy cut, considering how slowly the show was progressing till now.
This also means that "The Voice" now occupies two nights' worth of television, as the results shows are broadcast 9 p.m. Tuesday. Want to vote? There's a 12-hour voting window, so time is tight. Now, this is a pretty massive responsibility, America — are you ready for it?
Jermaine Paul: Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer"
This is the voice that brought us "Get in my back seat baby!" from the battle rounds and Billy Ocean's "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car." The song was too heavy and the music over-powered what Jermaine — a back-up singer for Alicia Keys — had showcased so well prior to this. Here's hoping America judges him on his voice and not this song.
RaeLynn: Maroon 5's "Wake-Up Call"
Well, this was odd: little RaeLynn's super-country take on Adam Levine's own song. Her performance was killer, especially making a gun out of her hand with the line "so I had to shoot her dead," and this song had amazing potential, but the music overtook her voice, and the lyrics were nearly unintelligible with her strong twang. Adam loved it, though, as did all the other coaches.
Naia Kete: Adele's "Turning Tables"
This was equal parts light and powerful. I couldn't think of the word I wanted to use to describe this song until Blake said it himself: "Your tender moments are so special." That's the word! Tender! While Christina said she'd have preferred Naia stick with her reggae roots, Blake wanted her to prove that she's so much more than one genre. I think it worked.
Jordis Unga: Heart's "Alone"
It was nice to see Jordis go back to being the power-house she was in the Blind Auditions; her bout of nerves and the regrettable choice of Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" in the Battle Rounds is best forgotten, and immediately. Her take on "Alone" did that — it has "Instant Classic" written all over it. Her voice was staggeringly powerful, and the coaches loved it.
Erin Willett: Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City"
Gaithersburg native Erin seemed so at ease on stage, and the last notes she hit made every hair on my arms stand up. Technically and passionately, Blake said, it was the best vocal performance of the night. Erin earned accolades from the other coaches as well: acknowledging the passing of Erin's father a few months ago, Cee-Lo called her a champion.
Charlotte Sometimes: Paramore's "Misery Business"
I didn't dig the dramatic, almost-mournful rearrangement of this song, which is originally high-energy and quick-tempo. Then again, I just flat-out do not like this girl's voice, I'm sorry. But, if your voice isn't unique, you have nothing, Adam basically said. Blake called Charlotte a "true artist," however. Is she a true artist all the times though? (I will NEVER tire of that pun.)
Chris Mann: Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
Oh my good heavens. This man, and this song. I wept. Classically trained opera pipes plus some classic folk pop is a recipe for beauty. It's not a typical opera tune, Adam noted, and at first he was skeptical, but in the end he — like other coaches — loved it. Christina said Chris owned this song, and I whole-heartedly agree.
Moses Stone: Kanye West's "Stronger"
What up Laurel native! Any obvious bias I have toward anything Kanye-related aside, this was a good song choice, and Moses' performance was Strong(er). The coaches were falling all over Moses, too, and as an indication of Moses' growth, Adam told him he had more potential as a singer than as a rapper. Blake, too, who was a hold-out against Moses, said it was apparent that working with Christina was already making a difference.
Lindsey Paveo: Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know"
Oh, hell no. This song is supreme and now it's all sullied. Yes, it was crazy and haunting and unique and Lindsey put her own weird, deep, breathy spin on it, and the performance (clowns!) was cool, but her voice just didn't hold up for this one. Adam said he wanted more power in the chorus, but Christina said she could listen to Lindsey all day. Disagree.
Sera Hill: Drake's "Find Your Love"
This woman was just born to be on stage. She had all kinds of swagger, and this, hands down, was my favorite performance of the night. It was an unexpected, soulful take on Drake's song, and Sera seemed natural on that stage. She was so commanding, among the dancers and strippers (!!!), and in such a fantastic outfit, too. Christina called her a diva-in-training, but I disagree: Sera's already a diva, and it's marvelous.
Ashley De La Rosa: Alanis Morissette: "Right Through You"
This one packed a punch; Ashley's performance was hard and stomping and unforgiving, and still somehow melodic and vulnerable. Adam made the point that the 17-year-old seemingly suddenly became a woman with this song choice, and he had nothing but praise. "You really did everything perfectly," Adam said, and Christina agreed.
Jesse Campbell: Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World"
"Jesse Campbell can sing the phonebook," Christina said before the performance, and I agree. This is such a beautiful song, and Jesse's voice dove and soared all over it. To put it simply, his voice makes my heart shake, and the coaches loved it, too. "Your voice is almost as beautiful as my hair," Cee-Lo said. Well, right on one count, Cee Lo.
Time has passed since the taping of the blind auditions and battle rounds, and more time than just the EIGHT WEEKS (sheesh!) the show has been airing — months have in fact passed since the actual auditions, and it's apparent in the coaches' appearances.
The Good: Tie between Adam's haircut and Christina's suddenly softer, more wholesome appearance.
The Bad: Cee-Lo's outfit.
The Ugly: Cee-Lo's hair.
Obvious Yet Endearing Promo of the Night: Again proving Betty White can do no wrong, I didn't even get a little irritated when she appeared in the audience to hype her new NBC show, "Off Their Rockers." Carson Daly asked her, "Are you here to promote your show?" "No," she said. "I'm just here to look at Blake Shelton." Amen, Betty.
Possibly Insightful Observation of the Night: Christina tells Jesse, "Aren't you glad you have the only sober coach up here tonight?" That would certainly explain Cee-Lo's outfit, at least.
Tomorrow: The results of your voting, where it will be announced who stays and who goes. And, Gym Class Heroes!