The four coaches on “The Voice” — Alicia Keys, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani — brought three artists apiece to the Top 12 on Monday. The goal for each was to make it into the top 10 on iTunes by Tuesday morning so that they can reap the benefit of a vote multiplier. The bottom two vote-getters will have to sing for the Instant Save on Tuesday’s show.
Helping the coaches with song selection and performance pointers was Shania Twain, who became the fifth coach on the April 24 edition of the show. This marked the first time in the 12-year history of “The Voice” that the judging panel expanded.
With no artist in the race, Twain had the freedom to speak her mind but she chose to focus only on the positive.But you don’t have to do that. Who do you think was the best of the bunch? Vote in our poll at the bottom of this post and be sure to sound off on your favorites (as well as those that you think should go) in our comments section.
Jesse Larson: “Make You Feel My Love” (Adam Levine)
Larson tackled “Make You Feel My Love,” a 1997 Bob Dylan track that has been covered by Billy Joel, Garth Brooks and, perhaps most famously, Adele. Referencing the performance by the latter, Levine said that this song “would be the kiss of death for a female, but as a male vocalist, you have the ability to make it something else.” To that end, he made Larson perform without this guitar. This savvy move meant that the singer had to focus on the lyrics and he wowed the crowd and Twain who declared, “I could read that emotion. I love you without the guitar. I love you with the guitar! It was really coming from down within you, and I was very moved.”
Mark Isaiah: “One Dance” (Adam Levine)
The 2016 Drake dance hit “One Dance” should have been a perfect fit for Isaiah but this teen talent struggled with it. He didn’t have the confidence to do much dancing and the few moves he attempted took away from his singing. He did a boost from Twain who declared, “You present yourself with dynamics. You move at the right times. You have a really good sense of where you are in the song, and it is just really nice to see you come to life here on this stage.” And Levine lavished him with praise too: “He just came out here and acted like he was just visiting ‘The Voice’ and doing a performance and he has a record coming out.”
Stephanie Rice: “White Flag” (Alicia Keys)
Rice delivered a stripped-down version of “White Flag,” the 2003 signature tune for English singer/songwriter Dido. She moved out from behind the piano to take center stage and mesmerized with her soulful rendition. Twain observed, “your emotion was just pouring out of you. Your voice was crying” while Keys concluded, “you are the purest artist on this show, period… That song was arranged by you, created by you, and the way that you do that, it really brings people into your world. You can’t help but feel the goosebumps.”
Troy Ramey: “Free Fallin'” (Gwen Stefani)
Despite advice from both Stefani and Twain, Ramey went rogue by doing his own version of Tom Petty‘s 1990 Top 10 hit “Free Fallin’.” However, he won them both over with Twain admitting, “I really think you captured it. I was very captivated by your style” and Stefani adding, “It was creative and cool, and you did a great job.”
Aliyah Moulden: “Heat Wave” (Blake Shelton)
There was little logic to 15-year-old Moulden performing the 1963 No. 1 “Heat Wave,” the first hit for Motown group Martha & The Vandellas. She brought little of herself to the song but Twain praised her performance — ““You come out and command the stage. You have such poise” — as did Shelton who enthused, “You are becoming a performer in front of America’s eyes. It’s so exciting.”
Chris Blue: “Love and Happiness” (Alicia Keys)
Just before the halfway point of the evening, Blue stopped the show with his rollicking version of “Love and Happiness,” a 1972 song for Al Green that became a signature tune for Etta James. Blue was one of the best of the night and Twain agreed. “You brought everybody from a real cool, collective place and built the room up and exploded.” Likewise, Keys admitted, ““It is just incredible to watch you. You have this uncanny ability to make things electric.
Lauren Duski: “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good” (Blake Shelton)
Duski did herself proud with her version of Don Williams‘ “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good.” This 1981 No. 1 country hit has been covered by the likes of Anne Murray and Lee Ann Womack and Duski was equal to them. Twain agreed, “I think this song was so perfect for you. You have a real true spirit, an honest spirit. This is a song you could have written.” And Shelton said, “All this girl needs is a microphone and a country song, and she lights the place up. I’ve been waiting on somebody like this here.”
Lilli Passero: “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” (Adam Levine)
Passero was so ill last week that she had to rehearse with Levine via Skype. She must have been sick at the thought of singing one of Twain’s biggest hits, “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” While she gave it her all, she fell far short of the standard set by Twain back in 1999. However, Twain encouraged her, “It’s really fun to hear it in person and a huge compliment to hear it done so well” as did Levine: “I’m impressed that you can kind of do whatever you want to do.”
Brennley Brown: “Long, Long Time” (Gwen Stefani)
Brown nailed “Long, Long Time,” Linda Ronstadt‘s 1970 breakout hit that earned her the first of an eventual 28 Grammy nominations. At the end of the song, Twain was on her feet and declared, “This really is as good as it gets, no matter what age you are.” Agreed Stefani, “That was perfect. The opening was unbelievable.”
TSoul: “Always on My Mind” (Blake Shelton)
TSoul tackled “Always on My Mind,” the 1972 country tune that has been covered more than 300 times including, most memorably by Willie Nelson in a 1982 Grammy-winning version. The song and singer were an odd pairing but Twain was upbeat about the performance, “You really do put your soul into what you sing.” as was Shelton who observed, ““I have never seen anybody that gets lost in their performances like you do.”
Hunter Plake: “Somebody That I Used to Know” (Gwen Stefani)
Plake rocked the house with his version of the 2012 Grammy-winning Gotye/Kimbra collaboration “Somebody That I Used to Know.” This change-of-pace performance won over Twain who noted, “I love the way you have this beautiful, mild, calm personality, but when you dig into the song, it turns into, like, a full blown-out concert just now.” Concurred Stefani,”We know you as this emotional singer; to be able to actually have the energy of that song, the way you produced that
Vanessa Ferguson: “A Song for You” (Alicia Keys)
Ferguson found her voice with this stirring rendition of Leon Russell‘s 1970 track “A Song for You.” The tune has been covered by a wide array of artists from crooner Andy Williams to soul singer Ray Charles, who won a Grammy in 1993 for his version. Twain praised her performance, “You really know who you are, and that comes out in your voice and your delivery” as did Keys “you are committing to yourself every time, and it comes off so beautifully.”