'The Voice' Recap: Gwen Stefani & Blake Shelton Duet on 'Go Ahead and Break My Heart'
The Voice’s top-nine live show brought the heat tonight, with Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Pharrell and Adam Levine’s remaining artists fighting to make it into next week’s semifinal. Shelton and former coach Gwen Stefani also debuted their new single on TV.
Team Blake’s Paxton Ingram set a high bar for the evening, opening the performances with his take on Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” In the pre-performance package, Shelton remarked that Ingram is “not afraid to challenge himself.” Ingram said he hopes to show America that he’s a real artist, and he definitely accomplished that tonight, bringing his own sound to the acoustic arrangement of the classic. His vocals were simple, but it was an effective performance that showcased the kind of album he would put out. “Every week, you take just another notch forward, another notch higher. You just keep impressing people,” Shelton said, highlighting the momentum and improvement Ingram’s arc has had.
Carson Daly next announced that Pink will be joining The Voice next week to help the coaches prepare their artists for the semifinal performances. The Voice then debuted a sneak peak of her Pink’s new music video for “Just Like Fire.”
Team Blake kept things rolling with Mary Sarah singing “My Church” by Maren Morris. The song, like Sarah, is a mixture of contemporary and traditional country music, so it was a strong fit. In their rehearsal, Shelton encouraged Sarah to put down the guitar and just singing the song without playing. That allowed her to connect with the audience a bit more in her performance, which was solid but not necessarily a standout moment of the night. Sarah tends to play it safe. “I was caught up in watching you emote,” Pharrell said, adding that she connecting more to this song than any other one of her selections in the past.
Team Christina’s Nick Hagelin, who narrowly avoided elimination last week, returned tonight to sing an acoustic version of “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” He explained that he has a strong emotional connection to the song, and he definitely brought something different to the song. Hagelin has a tendency to rely on his head voice a little too much, but he puts on a good show, and he has grown in his confidence. “I loved the rhythm of it,” Aguilera said.
Pharrell’s last artist left in the competition, Hannah Huston, was up next. She sang “Say You Love Me” by Jessie Ware. She represented Team Pharrell well, bringing a lot of emotion and vocal complexity to the ballad. Her vibrato in particular sounded great. Huston was the right combination of vulnerable and confident, and she got the night’s performances back on track. “That was my personal favorite performance by you this entire season,” Shelton said. With Huston, Pharrell still has a strong chance of winning the season.
Florida Georgia Line took the stage next for a brief performance. They were followed by Team Adam’s Shalyah Fearing, the youngest artist left in the competition. She decided to sing “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, citing her grandmother’s influence as the reason behind choosing it. Fearing sounded incredible from the very start, and she kept up the powerful vocals throughout. It was her best performance to date, and she seems destined for the semifinal next week. “You’re getting better and better every week,” Shelton said. “Nobody means it more than Shalyah does,” Levine said, praising her authenticity and drive.
Laith Al-Saadi from Team Adam chose to sing “We’ve Got Tonight” by Bob Seger, who is also from Al-Saadi’s hometown of Ann Arbor, Mich. As a slow and stripped-down ballad, it was a change of course for Al-Saadi, but it was a solid choice, allowing Al-Saadi to really focus on the vocals. Even though he was also at the piano, this performance was more about the singing than some of his past guitar-heavy performances have been. Al-Saadi is the only rock artist left in the competition, and Pharrell encouraged rock fans to vote him through.
Shelton and Stefani performed their new single, “Go Ahead and Break My Heart,” next. They were followed by Team Blake’s Adam Wakefield, who opted to sing “Love Has No Pride” by Bonnie Raitt. “I love what you deliver,” Aguilera said. “You always come out so soulful and so strong.” Shelton said it was his best performance so far, adding that there was so much style. Wakefield definitely showed a different side of his artistry tonight, and it seems to have paid off.
Team Christina’s powerhouse singer Alisan Porter was up next, singing “Cryin’” by Aerosmith. Tonight, Porter proved something that was already quite clear this season: She can sing anything. She showcased her range vocal precision, letting loose and emoting, too. Porter is the full package, and she’s Aguilera’s best shot at winning the season. It was the best performance of the night. “You were a superstar just now,” her coach said after the performance.
Closing out the night was Team Christina’s Bryan Bautista, singing “1+1” by Beyoncé. The song sat very well in his range, and he brought his own interpretation to it. Aguilera really helped him to nail the ending and pushed him to bring a lot of passion to the performance. He embodied that well in his final performance, ending the night with a lot of energy. “You have the most impressive ability to sound so effortless in the high parts,” Levine said. Bautista indeed has a really beautiful upper register, and that was on full display tonight.
What did you think of tonight’s performances? One artist will be eliminated tomorrow night, and the rest will advance to the semifinal, receiving some coaching from Pink. Who got your vote?
This article originally appeared in THR.com.