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The Voice Week 8 Recap: Like Watching Gwen & Blake On A Date

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Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC
On the first night of The Voice’s live playoffs, Gwen and Adam both brought back previous contestants and we were treated to a great night of performances that concluded with a standing ovation and an invocation of the divine. Seriously. The Voice can be very hit or miss. The production guarantees that it’s always of a certain quality, but it’s all about the vocalists to carry the day. And when they do, they really do.

Part of the appeal of competition shows is that we feel like this could be us, if we just got that one opportunity. I am personally an amazingly horrible singer, but you might not be. The contestants on The Voice repeatedly refer to being fans of the artists, and Gwen and Adam really respect their performers. We’ve come a long way from the days of Simon Cowell berating tearful American Idol hopefuls.

This was the first show since Gwen and Blake officially announced that they are dating and there were some fun moments between the judges as the night went on. But the real drama was between Blake and Adam. At times their playful banter seemed to get a little tense. But the stars, of course, were the singers. A great crop this week in the last round before teams get cut in half.

Round One: Blaine Mitchell — Team Adam
Song: “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS
Performance: Blaine has had quite a week. The long-haired singer got married last weekend and chose an appropriate song — INXS’s hit “Never Tear Us Apart.” He strutted around stage as the crowd waved and rolled, pointing out his new wife at one point. Blake Shelton gushed that he couldn’t believe Mitchell used to be a country singer and said that Adam had “de-hillbillied” him. Pharrell said that he had made the song his own, and we’re inclined to agree.

Round Two: Regina Love — Team Gwen
Song: “Hello” by Adele
Performance: Regina Love prayed before belting out Adele’s new megahit “Hello.” Whether or not divine intervention was needed, Regina gave a performance as amazing as her name. Adam, her old coach, told her he was still beyond proud of her evolution. Covering Adele is always a tricky proposition but Love rocked the house. You wouldn’t confuse her for the British singer, but if she keeps singing like this she might not need to host radio in Atlanta much longer.

Round Three: Keith Semple — Team Adam
Song: “To Be With You” by Mr. Big
Performance: It’s always a daring choice to wear leather pants. But Semple did it, and sang a song originally recorded by something called “Mr. Big,” which is apparently not a Chris Noth tribute band. Semple went into the crowd and high-fived the audience. The former boy band member gets extra points for performing with a guitar and inspired a little bit of a moment between newly dating Gwen and Blake as the No Doubt singer accused Blake of taking words out of her mouth. Semple didn’t hit the highs that Love did but he brought an energy and presence to the song that will serve him well in the future.

Round Four: Shelby Brown — Team Adam
Song: “You’re No Good” by Linda Ronstadt
Performance: Shelby is still singing in the bowling alley back home, the only difference is now the house is packed and people drive from states away to hear her perform. She took on Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good” and delivered the best performance so far. Pharrell complimented her on her voice’s texture and we agree. Her performance was raw, powerful, and more emotionally evocative than you would expect from a 17-year-old. Maybe if this singing thing works out she can have a career singing in bigger bowling alleys, or even mini-golf courses. Mini-golf course gigs are probably, like, the Coachella of singing in businesses geared towards children and drunks.

Round Five: Korin Bukowski — Team Gwen
Song: “Adia” by Sarah McLachlan
Performance: Gwen brought in her style team to “change Korin’s look,” which apparently means cutting like two inches off her hair and taking it out of a braid. Korin has a delicate voice and took on a delicate song but showed surprising emotionality and strength. Blake pointed out that last time Gwen cut someone’s hair, the artist won — albeit on Blake’s team. Adam laughed mockingly and Blake muttered, “Hate him.” Is there possible real tension on the judges’ row? Either way, we’re watching.

Round Six: Ellie Lawrence — Team Gwen
Song: “Ex’s and Oh’s” by Elle King
Performance: Gwen told Ellie, “Be what your hair looks like” and the blue-green-haired singer took her to heart. Blake praised the authenticity of her voice — it shreds when she really gets going — and Pharrell complimented her on her stage presence. She really took the top performance spot from Love, running with it, and hiding. Ellie alternated between slinky and powerful and, yes Gwen, lived up to the promise of her hair.

Round Seven: Jeffrey Austin — Team Gwen
Song: “Say You Love Me” by Jessie Ware
Performance: Gwen was hiding behind her hands and giggling as Jeffrey strutted around stage. Jeffrey hadn’t performed for six years before his Voice audition, and it’s a little unclear why if he’s always going to sing like that. Pharrell branded this one the best performance of the night. Adam said that he thought Jeffrey could easily win the competition. Gwen said, “I am so winning right now.” Jeffrey was phenomenal. With some performances, the less said the better. Watch out for him.

Round Eight: Braiden Sunshine — Team Gwen
Song: “Everything I Own” by Bread
Performance: Braiden’s voice is seriously angelic. I don’t know what I would have done if I had to perform live onstage in front of millions of people. I can definitely tell you that Behati Prinsloo and Gwen Stefani would not have had crushes on me, as they appear to on Braiden. Adam said that Braiden’s voice might have been held back by his choice of song. That seems to be an accurate criticism. The 15-year-old Braiden looked great in his leather jacket and will now start praying nightly that puberty doesn’t rob him of his voice.

Round Nine: Amy Vachal — Team Adam
Song: “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra
Performance: Amy told Adam that she stole her brother’s Maroon 5 album when she was 13. Her choice of a Frank Sinatra song seemed odd until she started singing. She’s got a great jazz singer’s voice: smoky and full of secrets. Blake said that she should do a Christmas album, which seems true but is also a weird request to make. Whatever. She rocked it.

Round Ten: Viktor Kiraly — Team Gwen
Song: “All Around the World” by Lisa Stansfield
Performance: Viktor may only be a contestant on the show but his ability to look like a Miami Vice extra is already at a professional level. Blake says that he’s “so happy to see Gwen beat the crap out of Adam.” Is it possible that Blake and Adam legitimately dislike each other? The level of rivalry is getting kind of weird. Viktor was solid, bringing impressive range and dancing to Lisa Stansfield’s soul song.

Round Eleven: Chance Peña — Team Adam
Song: “Barton Hollow” by The Civil Wars
Performance: Adam brought Chance Peña back because he believed in his talent and giving second chances. The song they chose was “Barton Hollow,” which Chance said was in right in his wheelhouse. More like an outhouse, in my opinion, because the song is bad. His did a good job, but source material really matters on The Voice and this source material was not strong. Chance’s whole family attended and they all looked very hip, so he has that going for him. Chance also looks like he could probably beat me up, which is a little concerning because he’s 15 years old.

Round Twelve: Jordan Smith — Team Adam
Song: “Halo” by Beyonce
Performance: Well, Jordan just shut down the damn club. He doesn’t look like Beyonce, but his performance of her “Halo” was completely looney tunes fantastic. The hosts stood and applauded. The audience was screaming so loud that Pharrell couldn’t talk. When he did talk, he invoked God and Gwen agreed. Jordan wins. That’s why he went last. There’s really no point in doing the show anymore. This is a Jordan coronation.
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