Emily Keener was voted off of The Voice last week, and tonight, season 10’s top 11 artists sang for America’s vote. Tomorrow night, one contestant will be eliminated based on votes and iTunes downloads. The competition is heating up between coaches Pharrell, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine, who all worked hard to prepare their artists going into tonight’s performances.
The episode began with a powerful tribute to Prince. With the stage and set covered in purple light, the four coaches reflected on what Prince meant to them. “He did things his way, always, to the end,” Levine said. Pharrell seemed to be fighting back tears as he recalled listening to Prince’s records growing up in Virginia. Aguilera described Prince as “timeless” and “legendary” and said she’ll always appreciate how authentic he was. “His music still to this day can change my day,” Shelton said. “He was larger than life, and now he’s gone.”
Team Adam’s Shalyah Fearing kicked off the night’s performances, deciding to sing “The Climb” by future The Voice coach Miley Cyrus. Fearing gets better and better every week. She has had the most exciting arc this season, and “The Climb” was the perfect song choice for her this week. She built the momentum of the song very well and put a lot of power behind her vocals. She set the bar very high for the rest of the night. “I’m sure Miley would be so proud,” Fearing’s former coach Aguilera said. “You’re so unbelievably advanced in your talent for how young you are,” Levine said.
Team Pharrell’s comeback artist Daniel Passino hoped to show his vulnerable side this week, choosing to sing an arrangement of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” inspired by Pink’s live cover of the hit. Passino once again showcased his strong storytelling abilities with the performance. Everything from his vocals to the way he used the stage told an emotional story. “The note choices were signature,” Pharrell said, specifically highlighting the last note Passino hit. And, of course, Pharrell got another “damn Daniel” joke in there.
Paxton Ingram from Team Blake decided to shake things up this week by singing a contemporary gospel song: “Break Every Chain” by Tasha Cobbs. “You sound great on everything, but you sound special on this,” Shelton told Ingram in their rehearsal. Those words turned out to be very true. Ingram gave a stirring performance, and he was so connected with the song throughout. He received a standing ovation from all four coaches. “This is the first time I feel like you’ve opened your heart up,” Shelton said. Ingram seems destined for the top 10 after that performance.
Owen Danoff, who was instantly saved in last week’s results episode, returned ready to prove himself. He chose to sing “Fire And Rain,” sharing that he has a special connection with the words after having lost a close friend, a marine who was killed in action. Danoff is another one of the really compelling storytellers this season. He always brings a lot of emotion to his singing, and tonight was no exception. “I love the version that you did,” his coach Levine said. He highlighted the fact that Danoff is so different from everyone else in the competition right now. Hopefully viewers will connect with that this week.
Team Blake’s Mary Sarah followed with a performance of “Johnny & June,” saying it is the perfect blend of classic and contemporary country. That’s really the kind of music she sees herself doing in her singing career. It was Sarah’s best performance to date. Aguilera described her as “consistent” and “strong.” Pharrell praised the strength behind her upper register. “This is your moment,” Shelton said, adding that he strongly believes country fans will respond by downloading her version on iTunes tonight.
Alisan Porter from Team Christina, who has been one of the most consistently impressive artists this season, sang “Stay With Me Baby” by Lorraine Ellison tonight. Porter tapped into the soul side of the song but also brought some theatrics to it. Porter proved yet again that she can sing anything. She simply has an unbelievable voice, which is what this competition is all about. Shelton said that it’s getting harder to see growth in her performances, because she can’t get any higher. Levine said he believes she will win the season.
Fellow Team Christina artist Bryan Bautista was up next, singing his own creative version of “Just The Way You Are.” Bautista has strong artistic instincts, and they were on full display in his arrangement of the song tonight. It was a smooth and powerful performance that allowed him to tap into his impressive range. “That was effortless,” Pharrell said. Levine said his upper register is pristine.
Adam Wakefield brought his mom into rehearsal to meet Shelton, which was a very cute moment. Tonight, he sang “Lights” by Journey, putting some of his own twists on it. The song was a different style for Wakefield, but he brought a lot of himself to it. His falsetto was particularly impressive. Pharrell said he has a classic rock voice that sounds like it’s right out of the 1970s. He added that the label Big Machine should be watching Wakefield right now.
Team Christina’s Nick Hagelin followed, singing “Your Body Is A Wonderland” by John Mayer, who initially inspired Hagelin to start playing guitar. Hagelin played guitar during his tender, sweet performance that really seemed to capture his personality. “You’re just lovable,” Aguilera said, which really is the perfect word to describe Hagelin.
After her high-energy performance last week, Team Pharrell’s Hannah Huston wanted to do something a little more pulled back and stripped down tonight, opting for the power ballad “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” Huston showed fantastic control in her performance tonight and allowed viewers to see a different side of her than they got last week. “You have a unique character in your voice,” Levine said. “That was so eloquent,” Pharrell added. “Where does all that feeling come from?”
Levine wanted Laith Al-Saadi to stray out of his comfort zone by singing something more contemporary this week. He went with “Make It Rain” by Ed Sheeran. Al-Saadi is a seasoned artist who easily made the song his own. It sounded nothing like Sheeran, and that works to Al-Saadi’s favor. He set himself apart tonight, and it was a stellar way to end the top 11 performances. Shelton described him as a “breath of fresh air.” Al-Saadi is definitely a stronghold for Team Adam.
What did you think of tonight’s performances? One artist will be sent home tomorrow night in a live elimination episode.
This article originally appeared in THR.com.