'The Voice' Recap: Live Playoffs Continue with Team Blake and Team Pharrell
The live playoffs continued tonight on The Voice. After Team Gwen and Team Adam took the stage last night, it was time for Blake Shelton and Pharrell to show what they bring to the table for season nine. Team Pharrell and Team Blake finally got their chances to sing for America's votes, and both teams also brought back their "comeback artists" -- artists who were eliminated earlier in the competition whom the coaches decided deserve another chance.
First up was Darius Scott, who sang “Love Lockdown” by Kanye West. It was an ambitious song choice, especially since West isn’t really known for strong melodies, but Scott worked with Pharrell to create a really original and beautiful arrangement. He won over all four coaches. Shelton revealed that he told Pharrell earlier in the night that Scott is the member of Team Pharrell that everyone else is keeping their eye on. He is original and consistently moving and could easily be someone who could win the whole thing. He provided a strong start to the night.
Team Blake's Ivonne Acero sang next, choosing "One of Us," which she said is the kind of music she really wants to do as an artist. It's hard to make such a frequently performed song like “One of Us” your own, and her performance, while emotional, was just not memorable enough. Shelton brought attention to just how much progress she has made though, and he had a good point. Improvement is definitely an essential part of The Voice, and if people realize how much Acero has grown as an artist, she definitely has a shot at advancing.
Morgan Frazier from Team Blake performed next, singing Hinder’s “Lips Of An Angel.” She noted that she’s used to playing bars, so working an audience like the way she has to do on The Voice is something very new to her. The song choice was great and really allowed Frazier to work the crowd. She brought herself to the song, and it was one of her personal-best performances.
Singing "Overjoyed" by Stevie Wonder, Evan McKeel from Team Pharrell went next. Pharrell reminded McKeel that it’s all right if the audience sees him feel on stage. It's about the voice, but it's about the emotion, too. The song sat well in McKeel's tone and range. Stefani criticized his overwrought theatricality and said that he needs to be more honest in his stage presence, but she admitted that he sang the song perfectly. Pharrell, naturally, disagreed with Stefani and said that he thought McKeel is genuine.
Next up was Maddie Davis from Team Pharrell, singing "Songbird" by Fleetwood Mac. Davis accompanied herself on the guitar in the performance, which is always a risky move that makes it harder to connect with the audience. Davis got so emotional during her performance that she ended up crying. It was definitely an emotional performance, and Shelton said it was a breakout moment for her. But it still lacked that something extra special to make it a standout performance of the night.
Pharrell revealed his comeback artist: Celeste Betton. It was a tough decision when Pharrell initially eliminated Betton, so it's not a surprise that he brought her back. For the live show, she sang "Something in the Water" by Carrie Underwood. Betton came back in a big way and earned her spot on Team Pharrell.
Team Blake's Zach Seabaugh performed next, singing "Brand New Girlfriend" by Steve Holy, which was very fitting for his sound and style. Adam Levine was a huge fan of the performance, which had really impressive dynamics to it. In Shelton's opinion, Seabaugh will coast through the rest of the live shows.
Riley Biederer, who has been stolen twice this season, from Team Pharrell sang “Should Have Been Us” by Tori Kelly. She gave it her all and had really strong stage presence, but there’s still a sense that Biederer is trying to figure herself out as an artist. Stefani complimented her belting abilities, and the coaches all remarked on her growth.
Next, Shelton announced his comeback artist: Nadjah Nicole. It was a smart move on Shelton’s part, because Nicole was always his team's most original and distinct artist. She sang "Upside Down" by Diana Ross, and once again it was another solid comeback performance that is likely to get the attention of voters. All of the coaches were very praiseworthy.
Team Blake's Emily Ann Roberts performed next, singing the hymn "In the Garden." While it's a gorgeous song, it was one of the least exciting performances of the night. She had beautiful vocals, and she is definitely talented, but she just isn't memorable.
Mark Hood from Team Pharrell performed "What Do U Mean," which was a smart song choice, since the song is really popular at the moment. Hood brought his own style to the song, and it was another one of the night's more original performances. Pharrell gave Hood a standing ovation. Hood definitely has what it takes to go all the way.
Closing out the night, Team Blake's Barrett Baber took the stage. He sang "I Drive Your Truck," and the performance highlighted his strengths, but again, it's unclear if he has the extra something special to advance him to the top 12. What did you think of tonight's live performances? Who is getting your vote? Sound off in the comments, below.
This article originally appeared in THR.com.