Teams Blake and Christina hit the stage as audience voting begins on 'The Voice.'By John Mitchell
Jesse Campbell on "The Voice"Photo: NBC
After weeks of blind auditions and battle rounds, "The Voice" finally went live Monday night (April 2), with Teams Blake and Christina taking the stage. America now gets to vote on the best of the best, and the top three from each team will move on to the next round.
Twenty-four contestants survived the blind auditions and brutal battle rounds to make it to the live shows, and now their fate lies in the hands of viewers, who will take over for judges/mentors Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton and Cee Lo Green in deciding who continues on and who goes home. Entering the ring for Monday's two-hour performance show (results will be broadcast live Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET), the teams were as follows:
Team Adam: Karla Davis, Katrina Parker, Kim Yarbrough, Mathai, Pip and Tony Luca
Team Blake: Charlotte Sometimes, Erin Willett, Jermaine Paul, Jordis Unga, Naia Kete and RaeLynn
Team Xtina: Ashley De La Rosa, Chris Mann, Jesse Campbell, Lindsey Pavao, Moses Stone and Sera Hill
Team Cee Lo: Cheesa, Erin Martin, Jamar Rogers, James Massone, Juliet Simms and Tony Vincent
Aguilera was looking great with a simpler style and a whole lot less hair, but the judge to watch on the fashion front was Cee Lo, who rocked a strange disco clown-meets-Elvis costume and shaggy '70s wig. "There's something a little different about you tonight," Adam joked to the "Forget You" singer. Referring to the dashing Levine's newly shaved head, Cee Lo said, "Adam cut his off, so I decided to grown mine out."
Now, on to the actual competition.
First up was Team Blake's Jermaine Paul. Paul made a big impression, entering from the back of the theater amid blinding lights before making his way to the stage, but Aguilera commented that the song Shelton gave him, Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer," was an unconventional choice for the former Alicia Keys backup singer. "I didn't see the connection with the song choice," Aguilera said. "[But] you brought soul to it."
Shelton disagreed. "I think girls tend to like you singing that song a lot," he said, to much screaming and applause.
Team Christina's Chris Mann was much more subdued when he hit the stage to sing "Bridge Over Troubled Water," and his classically trained voice had all the judges swooning over his pitch-perfect delivery. "You really owned it," Xtina said. "You made it your own."
Shelton gave his next contestant, 17-year-old Texan RaeLynn, a tall order: to turn "Wake Up Call" by "Voice" coach Levine's own band Maroon 5 into a country/rock song. "It is a risk taking a famous pop song and turning it country, but I think America's going to like that," RaeLynn said before stomping around the stage confidently in her cowboy boots and frilly dress.
"You're a sassy little thing," Aguilera commented. "Are you allowed to grind your hips at your age like that?"
Christina then called out what we already know: that there is a romance going on between Levine and Shelton. "You and the Maroon 5," Aguilera joked about Shelton's choice of Levine's song. (We know, Christina! We know!)
Moses Stone of Team Xtina was up next with a medley of Kanye West's "Stronger"/"Power." Backed by a fleet of dancers, the lone "Voice" rapper showed off his ability to move and stir up the audience. "I think you're a natural onstage," Cee Lo said. Adam agreed, saying, "There's no doubt [that] you know how to entertain."
The performance was one of many that was pretty much professional level, including everything from backup dancers and flashy costumes to abundant lighting and a massive backing band/orchestra.
Blake even (we assume inadvertently) complimented Aguilera when he said, "She's already working for you," while praising Stone's singing voice. "You do it all," Aguilera cheered, talking up Stone's ability to sing, rap and perform choreography.
In one of the rare occasions where a "Voice" coach recommended that one of his singers stay true to the way a song is performed on an album, Blake pushed street performer Naya Kete to stick to the original arrangement of "Turning Tables" as it was recorded by Adele.
Aguilera unsurprisingly disagreed, and she and Shelton clashed. He thought Naya brought a lot of personality and tenderness to the song, while the "Beautiful" songbird wished Kete would have included more of her own jazz style to the performance.
In the night's strangest performance (fully dressed division), Aguilera paired raspy-voiced Lindsey Pavao with Gotye's "Somebody I Used to Know," and she brought, um, creepy burlesque dancers and clowns in masquerade masks onstage for her performance. Even with the strange distractions, the judges were listening closely, and Adam thought she was missing the power Gotye brought to the chorus. Her coach Christina was pleased, though, saying that every time she hears Paveo sing she thinks "Where is her record? I could listen to this girl all day."
Team Blake's rocker Jordin Unga was strong and hit all the right notes in a memorable take on Heart's difficult "Alone," inspiring her coach to say, "I'm just so glad America has the chance to find out who you are."
That's the thing about "The Voice" judges: They always know the perfect thing to say. (It must be the influence of smooth, newly single lady's man Levine being on the panel.)
For the night's oddest performance (shirtless edition), enter Team Christina's Sera Hill, who not only made Drake's "Find Your Love" all her own (and practically unrecognizable) as a Mary J. Blige-like R&B slow jam, but also turned the stage into a Chippendale's review (green lasers and all). "I know this was your idea," Shelton told Aguilera of Hill's studly backup dancers. (We know it too; she's "Dirrty" and we like that about her.)
"I was waiting for Christina to start stuffing some 1's in those guys' pants," Blake continued. He didn't have much to say about Hill's actual performance, because "it's hard to get past the male strippers onstage. ... There were male strippers on the stage on 'The Voice.' "
For Team Blake's Erin Willett performance, the stage was transformed into a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Willett started into her Stevie Wonder cover at the piano before joining the swinging dancers for a Broadway-like performance. Shelton called Willett's performance the "best vocal performance of the night," and even Aguilera had to begrudgingly agree.
The next two performers took alternate routes to putting the best spin on their talents now that America is voting. Rocker Ashley De La Rosa chose to play it safe, sticking to her rocker-girl wheelhouse with "Right Through You" by Alanis Morrisette. And it worked for her: Levine called her "the most improved by far." When Aguilera agreed, he joked, "We just got along," stoking those rumors that Aguilera can be a little diva on set.
Unlike De La Rosa, Charlotte Sometimes changed things up so the live audiences would get a chance to hear a different side of her unique voice than they had at this point in the competition. She chose to rearrange Paramore's "Misery" to create a softer showcase to show that she can be a delicate singer as well as a fiery one.
The night's final performance was a fine (if very safe) one: jazzy crooner Jesse Campbell singing "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong. "If someone from my team doesn't win, I'm looking for you to win this," Cee Lo told Campbell. Adam agreed that Campbell was "the one to beat." But Aguilera must have been worried her "Moves Like Jagger" duet partner was going to turn negative, because the two ended the show in a (non) lovers spat, bickering back and forth as the credits rolled.
Who do you think will get sent home on tomorrow's results show? Let us know in the comments below!