The Live Playoffs kicked off Monday on The Voice (Monday and Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on CTV2) and coaches John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani got to see how their Top 20 contestants handled the pressure of live television. Some thrived, with others were plagued by technical issues and nerves.
Team Blake’s Gracee Shriver managed to deliver an impressive performance even after a technical issue forced her to ditch her guitar only seconds before the cameras went live. Team Legend’s Marybeth Shriver also showed her professionalism by pushing through a rocky start that included a faulty mic. As for Team Kelly’s Shane Q, his issue was with his own nerves, with the singer accidentally singing the wrong opening line for his performance of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.” Thankfully, the versatile singer with the big voice was able to quickly rebound, with the flub being ignored by all four judges who appear to have made a pledge to only give encouraging notes to each performer. It’s a nicer, softer edition of The Voice and one that continues to be a soothing pleasure to watch in Season 17.
Monday night’s performances are followed by a live vote that will determine the Top 12 singers, with lucky number 13 being chosen on Tuesday night in a sudden death elimination. So much for soothing. As for who should be an automatic ‘yes’ for the Top 13, five frontrunners made themselves known on Monday night.
Janis Joplin isn’t dead, she’s just been in hiding for decades and has made a deal with the devil to age backwards and return to the spotlight as Katie Kadan. Smoothing out the grit in Joplin’s voice and throwing in some Meatloaf, Brittany Howard and Adele for good measure, Katie showed a softer side of her voice on Monday night with her performance of Lady Gaga’s “Always Remember Us This Way.” There are a lot of great singers on The Voice, but only a few who are great singers and can interpret a song in a way that makes the audience feel. Katie delivers.
Speaking of feels, it was difficult for viewers to not highly emotional after Max Boyle performed “Once.” Technically brilliant and emotionally cathartic, Max received a standing ovation from all four coaches for his performance and rightly so. Earning a few tears from his coach, Kelly revealed that for the first time in her tenure on The Voice she recorded one of her contestants during rehearsal, admitting that she listened to Max’s performance of “Once” before going to bed on Sunday night. It’s likely that millions of viewers went to bed on Monday night with Max’s performance as the soundtrack for their dreams of longing and heartbreak.
Hammock got a standing ovation from all four coaches for her sugary sweet performance of “God Only Knows,” with her coach Blake calling Kat one of the most unique human beings he’s ever worked with. Monday’s performance was a standout for Kat, who finally showed that she’s more than just the teenager with the world’s sweetest voice. She’s still that, but she’s also got depth and range.
If there’s one contestant who has consistently brought the party atmosphere with every performance during Season 17, it’s Rose Short. The seasoned performer had her coach Gwen, along with Kelly and John, dancing in their seats throughout her performance of Janet, Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty. “You’re not even on my team and I can’t sit down,” said Kelly, adding “Janet Jackson is at home saying, ‘Don’t sing my song!’ That was so good!” Proud coach Gwen revealed that she and Rose had many talks about the risky song choice of “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” likely in reference to the fact that the 1980s hit doesn’t have big vocal moments that would allow Rose to show off her range. The magic of Rose is that she carved out big vocal moments for herself, displaying her incredible high notes and her versatility by delivering some gritty, bluesy takes on Jackson’s massive track.
Straightforward covers have been dominating the lineup this season, but Will Brennan did his part to add some reimagining into Season 17 with his surprising take on Taylor Swift’s “Style.”. A camera pan during Will’s performance revealed Kelly frozen in place, with the coach (for the record, not Will’s coach) telling the blue-haired singer “You just won The Voice.” That’s pretty nice to hear from any coach, but one that isn’t even your own? That’s some serious swagger.
The Voice airs Monday and Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on CTV2.