On Tuesday night (April 15), Usher‘s team was the only group left to compete in The Voice Playoffs (at least the ones where coaches Shakira, Usher, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine were in charge of the votes). There were plenty of ambitious attempts by the contestants, and although not all were hits, Team Usher proved to be a force this season!
T.J. Wilkins, Melissa Jimenez, Stevie Jo, Bria Kelly and Josh Kaufman all performed for Ursh’s affections, leaving him with a tough choice at the end of the evening. Here’s how they did, and how The Voice Live Rounds Top 12 shaped up.
T.J. Wilkins begins the night with Rufus & Chaka Khan’s “Tell Me Something Good,” a hit penned by Stevie Wonder. It is the first of several tall orders throughout the night, and T.J. delivers the goods.
“The audience loved you,” says Shakira. “I did too, because you’re so soulful and so committed.”
“You are a breath of fresh air because you really want to entertain people,” says Adam.
“That was solid,” Blake says, adding that although he once questioned Usher’s choice to advance T.J. over Biff Gore, “I’m on board now, 100 percent.”
“You completely killed it,” says Usher. “Unfortunately I gotta pick two that leave, and three that stay. This is going to be hard.”
Usher’s Melissa Jimenez is trying to make the transition to “MJ,” but as Music Box learned the hard way: however Carson Daly introduced you in the Blind Auditions, that’s the name you’re stuck with. Melissa/MJ does reveal a new fun fact, though: that she was once pulled up on stage to dance during Usher’s Truth tour! The whole situation is very reminiscent of Courteney Cox and Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark” moment, which is never a bad thing.
Melissa sings a stripped down version of Beyonce’s “Halo,” and, sadly, viewers can feel every bump along the way.
“It was a very brave move to strip this down,” says Shakira. “I think it was a great payoff.”
“There’s no way to really excel on this show unless you take risks,” says Adam, but notes he heard some problems. “I think there were moments that were really beautiful, I think there were moments that had trouble.”
“I thought it was solid,” counters Blake. “There was one moment where you probably didn’t get a big enough breath to get to that note,” he adds.
“You understood that this was a live or die moment,” says Usher. “It is the effort that you have put in it that has got you this far.” He then goes on to tell her to love music however this nets out, which is a good hint to begin preparations for her trip home.
The soul singer with heavy metal lineage, Stevie Jo, is still around, despite only earning one chair turn in the Blind Auditions. He makes a risky choice with blues classic “The Thrill is Gone” by B.B. King, and does alright. The performance has some shaky notes, though his falsetto is on point.
“I like seeing Stevie Jo perform because it’s like he’s sneaking up on a rabbit,” says Blake, which is the most Oklahoman compliment he’s ever given. “I know you’re the real deal.”
“When you’re singing the blues, to me, all technical analysis goes out the window. It’s about how you emote,” says Adam.
“I enjoyed many things about your performance,” says Shakira. “I enjoyed your falsettos and your raspy voice.”
“I am a fan of how courageous you are as a vocalist,” says Usher. ”I think you did the record great justice.”
Raspy blues singer Bria Kelly takes on a classic by The Rolling Stones. The four-chair turner sings “Wild Horses” and, other than using her guitar solely to accessorize her outfit (girl, at least leave your hands near the strings if you want to be convincing!), it was her strongest performance to date.
“I was worried about you last time because it was as if you weren’t you,” says Adam. “I’m really pleased to say that you’re back.”
“You have an unbelievable voice. I don’t know how you do what you do,” says Shakira.
“I’ve stolen everybody that you’ve sang against,” notes Blake. “Looking back on that, it may be because you make people step up.”
“You were able to shine in it and make it your own,” says Usher, who is beaming at her progress.
Closing out Playoffs Round Uno is Josh Kaufman, the soul singer stolen from Team Adam in the second iteration of the Battle Round. Josh sings Bruno Mars’ “It Will Rain,” which is another challenging choice. The newest Team Usher member absolutely wows, though, and has Adam questioning the choice to give him up.
“Let me just remove the dagger from my heart,” says Adam of his former contestant. “I’m so happy that you’re still in this, because you deserve to be.”
“You are one of the best singers on The Voice this year,” says Blake “I wish that there were still steals left.”
“I think that you’re so talented,” says Shakira. “I could tell how comfortable you were and how effortless it was for you to hit all of those high notes.”
“You did an incredible job,” says Coach Usher. “It’s you, me and Adam that made that moment a reality,” he adds, fearing the tough choice he will soon face.
“I have to make a decision tonight, and I make it heavily,” says Usher before choosing his final three. “I hope you guys carry everything that I have taught you.”
They did it!:
Maybe they can use those Usher lessons at home:
Now, at long last, it’s on to the live shows! The coaches step out of the mix as the audience take the power position when The Voice live shows premiere on Monday.
Whose team do you think is looking like the toughest contender?
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