'The Voice': Michelle Obama Introduces Top 10, Military Personnel & Veterans Honored
The top 10 artists of season 10 competed live on The Voice tonight, singing for America’s vote. Coaches Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton and Pharrell continued to prepare their artists in grueling rehearsal rounds. One artist will be eliminated in tomorrow night’s results show. The live studio audience tonight was full of active-duty military personnel and veterans, along with their family members.
Before tonight’s performances, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden gave a special presentation to recognize the fifth anniversary of the Joining Forces initiative, which provides support to service members, veterans and their families. The First Lady introduced the top 10, who took the stage to sing “Home” by Dierks Bentley.
After the special presentation, Daniel Passino from Team Pharrell kicked off the performances by singing “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith. Passino’s performance felt a bit too produced, but he showcased his range and his command of the vocals. Aguilera noted that there were some pitch problems but that his passion came through in the performance. Overall, the performance didn’t really set that high of a bar for the rest of the night, but Passino seems to be able to connect with viewers, so he might just make it through to next week.
Next up was Team Adam’s Shalyah Fearing, the youngest artist left in the competition. She sang “My Kind Of Love” by Emeli Sandé, and it was the perfect song choice for her. Levine really pushed her to let loose, and she did just that. The energetic performance brought Levine to his feet. Shelton noted that it evoked her Blind Auditions performance, when she sang “Listen” by Beyoncé and really just put it all on the line with her vocals instead of being too precise. Shelton described tonight’s performance as “ragged and edgy” and “kind of wild,” adding that that’s where Fearing thrives. Fearing is undoubtedly one of the most authentic and powerful singers in the competition, and her performance tonight likely secured her place in the top 9.
The young father from Team Christina, Nick Hagelin, followed. Aguilera’s comeback artist sang “I Can’t Help It” by Michael Jackson, which was another really strong song choice of the night. Hagelin really thrives in his falsetto, and the rhythmic vocals of “I Can’t Help It” were perfect for him. “Those are big shoes to fill,” Pharrell said of Hagelin taking on a Jackson song. But he added that Hagelin represents a really powerful message for viewers because of his comeback story this season. “You killed it,” Aguilera said. She added that she hopes to see him move around the stage even more.
The show continued with Team Pharrell’s Hannah Huston, who chose to sing Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep.” Taking on an Adele song is always a challenge, but Huston has what it takes. She put just the right amount of growl and grit into her performance, seizing control of the vocals and hitting her runs with precision. Pharrell was on his feet for the entire performance. Levine was critical of how she slid up to the first note of the chorus, but he admitted that he was being nitpicky. “That was a thousand-percent amazing,” her coach Pharrell said. “In my estimation, what this show is about is healing and growth,” he added, letting Huston know that she perfectly embodied that.
Team Adam’s Laith Al-Saadi was up next, singing “The Thrill Is Gone” by B.B. King. The song choice played to his strengths, allowing him to get really soulful and accompany his singing with amazing guitar playing. Shelton cautioned Al-Saadi against relying too much on the guitar and said to really make sure that he showcases his voice more than his guitar skills moving forward. Levine responded to what Shelton said, highlighting that Al-Saadi showed incredible musical abilities tonight. It’s not like Al-Saadi is hiding a mediocre voice behind stellar guitar playing. He’s incredible on both fronts.
Paxton Ingram from Team Blake made a major impression last week, and he decided to follow it up with something a little pulled back but equally powerful. He sang “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” by Celine Dion, and while it was a very different song, he brought just as much passion to it as he did in his performance last week. This time around, the dynamics were a lot stronger. Ingram really seems to be Shelton’s best shot at winning this season. Aguilera noted that he made it his own. Shelton added that Ingram was “in the zone.”
Mary Sarah leaned into her classic country roots, singing “Stand By Your Man” by Tammy Wynette. Shelton praised her vibrato in their rehearsal and asked if he could one day open for her. The song choice was definitely in her wheelhouse and reflected the exact kind of country artist that she is. Shelton said she definitely connected with country fans tonight.
Team Christina’s Bryan Bautista tapped into his roots by singing the bachata-pop song “Promise” by Romeo Santos. The song alternates between Spanish and English lyrics, and Aguilera noted that he was taking a risk with the song choice, but it paid off. Bautista gave an emotional performance that really showcased who he is as an artist. It was one of the standout moments of the night. “That was amazing and it was a first,” Pharrell said. “I think you’re one of the most gifted singers in this competition,” Levine added.
Team Christina kept things rolling, with Alisan Porter taking the stage to sing “Let Him Fly.” Porter had a strong emotional connection to the song, and Aguilera noted that country was a good fit for her. It was a stripped-down performance that really let Porter’s voice shine. It was a moving and impressive performance. Porter is an incredible storyteller when she sings. “I’m so proud of you for being courageous enough to show your vulnerability here on the stage tonight,” Aguilera said.
Team Blake’s Adam Wakefield was up next, singing “I Got A Woman” by Ray Charles. Wakefield noted that Shelton has really been pulling him out of his shell and turning him into an artist. His rendition of the song was great. It was a fun and soulful ending to the night. “You literally just blowed by brains out,” Shelton said.
Only nine artists will advance to next week, and one will be sent home. Who secured your vote tonight?
This article originally appeared in THR.com.