The Voice 5 – Top 20 Live Playoffs – Recap and VIDEOS

The Top 20 perform this week in the Live Playoffs. Tonight, it’s Team Adam and Team Blake followed by Team Christina and Team Cee Lo tomorrow. 2 members of each team will head home on Thursday. Ya’ll get to vote for your favs for the very first time!

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Your iTunes downloads count as votes. Any artist in the  iTunes Top 10 by 10 am tomorrow will have their iTunes votes multiplied by 5.

I’ll be live blogging the performances right here. These performances are supposedly “stripped down” in order to highlight the contestant’s vocals.

The coaches offered NO constructive criticism to any of the contestants tonight. And boy. A few of them could have used it.  Even Nic Hawk knew that his vocal was sub-par.  Grey had vocal problems throughout her performance. But NOPE. Nobody called it out.  It’s hard to take anything the coaches have to say when they are blowing smoke up the contestant’s asses.

Having said that, it was mostly a night of strong performances. Tessanne Chin, Preston Pohl and Will Champlin were the best of the night.  The only major miss was Nic Hawk who just doesn’t have the vocal goods to compete. If he manages to stick around, the music producers need to craft Jedward-like performances with dancers in crazy get-ups, flashing lights and tons of camp. I think it’s moot though. Nic is likely on his way home, unless the remaining country/Americana singers on Blake’s team cancel each other out, or Nick’s army of 13 year old girls have his back.

First, Flo-Rida and Christina Aguilera perform “How I Feel” it’s a mash up thing. Christina sings a variation of “Feeling Good” while Flor-ida raps some stuff. It’s got an insistent beat. I’m a little mesmerized. Christina is wearing a two piece black suit with a sheer sheath and a jaunty hat. She looks pretty amazing.

Shelbie ZTeam Blake – “Fancy” by Reba McEntire – Shelbie got married recently. She tells Blake that she wants to “hillbilly it up” and add a rock edge. Blake reminds her that Reba is an actress playing a character with a ton of confidence. Shelby IS a character. These upbeat story songs are right in her sweet spot. Shelbie’s big blowsy personality is perfect here. Although this song, which is basically about a mom tricking her daughter out to prostitute, squicks me out. Christina thought the song choice was great and fitting. She loved her growls. She thought for a second that Shelbie was having problems with her in-ears. But no. Cee Lo calls her “consistently charismatic” and says she makes Blake’s team strong. Adam loves the way her stage presence clicks. Flawless he calls it. Blake says she commands the stage and handles herself like a star. The coaches snark on Blake for his casual wear. – 1-877-553-3701

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James Wolpert – Team Adam – “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell – Adam chose this song for James. This week, they’re keeping it simple. James accompanies himself on acoustic, and he looks forward to hiding behind his guitar. Ha. He’s looking for total redemption from last week’s misstep.  He’s sitting down for this. It’s very singer-songwritery.  At first, the performance doesn’t seem to hold the dramatic punch of some of his earlier outings. Also, he changes the pronoun in a really strange place. Pretty sure Joni was talking about James Taylor’s mom warning her about his ups and downs–not a former girlfriend. But then, in the second chorus, James voice opens up in an unexpected and powerful way.  Wish the arrangement gave him the opportunity to open up sooner, but overall a solid performance.  Blake says he can’t be a geek and awesome at the same time (WHAT?). Blake is no longer on the fence about him. Christina was really impressed by how he grounded himself with the song. It wasn’t boring, rather it was heartwarming–a safehaven. Cee Lo loved the song choice and thought he did a great job. Adam is so proud of James for bouncing back. He knew he would. Bold, controlled, poised and elegant are the adjectives Adam used.    – 1-877-553-3702

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Nic HawkTeam Blake – Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke – Well, didn’t you see this song choice coming down 6th avenue? Thirteen year old girls are obsessed with him, says Nic. His fangirls are called “The Flawk.” Blake picked the song, but Nic’s got some ideas. Blake wants to get Miley in to twerk. No need for that. Nic is a show in and of himself.  But as far as his vocals are concerned–he doesn’t have the goods. He’s real nasally here. And kind of boring. He adds some  bad rapping to break up the monotony of the non-melody. He’s no T.I. He’s got a lot going on on stage, between the singing, the rapping and the dancing. It’s a little schizophrenic.  A flat out trainwreck might have saved this performance. He should have taken it over the edge. BYE NIC.  Christina thought it was a ton of fun.  Cee Lo heard the demo before it came out. He’s amazed that he did everybody’s parts. Adam was thoroughly entertained. Nic thought the singing could be better. Blake disagrees. No, listen to Nic. That vocal performance was not great. – 1-877-553-3703

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Ray Boudreaux – Team Blake – “Home” by Marc Broussard – Ray and Marc are from the same town. He grew up on “swamp pop.” He can’t wait to show America how southerners do it.  Blake advises him on a few pitchy moments, but other than that, he thinks it will be the performance of the night. Ray gets down and dirty here. Maybe not to the degree of the original. Ray still has a few smooth spots that need some roughing up. But he’s got a gorgeous soulful voice. He brings sincerity and authenticity to the performance.  Christina felt he brought a realness and connectedness he didn’t have before. She loved some of the technical stuff. Cee Lo loved his grit. Adam toured with Marc years ago. He’d be proud, he thinks. Blake feels he’s in a position to bring attention to the delta blues and is doing so much good. – 1-877-553-3704

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Austin JenkesTeam Blake – “She Talks to Angels” by The Black Crowes –  Blake suggests that he “chill out” in the verses.  That’s good advice. He rides the vocal too hard sometimes. Blake is drawing out his tender side.  Not one mention of the dead daddy. That’s a first.  His powerful, raspy voice is perfect for this song. He brings a ton of emotion to his performances and is pacing himself well here. He goes completely nuts on the last verse and it’s effective.   “You sing with so much heart,” says Christina.  He’s one of Cee Lo’s favorites. He loves his conviction. THE VOICE IS THE BEST says Cee Lo. Adam feels he’s an amazing vocalist. Adam wants to take him out on a Harley ride. Blake appreciates that Austin gives 150% of his heart when he sings. – 1-877-553-3705

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GreyTeam Adam – “Still Into You” by Paramore – Her dad was a working musician. She’s proud to carry on the tradition. Adam advises Gray to perform the song with confidence and swagger. She admits she struggles with that. Grey has a perfect pop voice. She’s like a Cassadee Pope but with a better voice. However, I’m not down with this song choice. At this stage she should have chosen a tune that showed off her pipes. She has nowhere to go here. She’s also hoarse and a little pitchy. So much is at stake for her. She’s a member of a very competitive team. Blake wanted to steal her. He calls her awesome and dominant. Cee Lo didn’t know the song. He felt she made it her own. Adam couldn’t be prouder of her growth. She successfully brought everyone into her world, he says. – 1-877-553-3706

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Will Champlin – Team Adam – “Secrets” by OneRepublic – He mentions his wife and her brain tumor in passing. He hasn’t made it into a thing, and that’s admirable. Will is going to dig his claws into the arrangement and not hold back one bit. Will performs at the keys through the first verse and chorus. He’s a way better singer than Ryan Tedder. Whoa. Will is branging it tonight. His pitch, phrasing and tone are right on. He hits some massive notes in just the right spots. He transformed this song into something powerful. Christina misses him. She loved the way he hit the money note.  Cee Lo is all “we aren’t criticizing because everyone is sooooo great.” Sheesh.  Despite being bounced around so much, he deserves to be here, says Adam. What he can do in his higher register is a special gift. – 1-877-553-3707

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Preston PohlTeam Adam –  “Nothin’ On You” – B.O.B. ft. Bruno Mars – His dad had cancer, but he’s in remission now. Adam is willing to step back and let Preston do his thing, because he’s a special talent. Preston brings some rasp and grit to this song. He’s singing the rap parts too, which is a little awkward. But the vocal is good. He brings verve and energy to a song with very little melody. In lesser hands, this wouldn’t have worked. Preston keeps impressing me. Blake is blown away. Pocket, pitch and passion…gosh, he says. “Studly” he calls it. Christina calls him an old soul. Cee Lo is a fan and compliments Adam for coaching him well. Adam feels no one in the competition is as unique as Preston. – 1-877-553-3708

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Cole Vosbury – Team Blake “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart – Cole and Blake are just getting acquainted.  Blake feels the song will bring out his singer/songwriter side. But Cole wants to make sure to bring something of himself to the song. Cole has an interesting tone. It’s both sweet and raspy. When he pulls back he sings like an angel. But here, he’s full on rasp. Heh. He’s playing guitar on a mini-stage surrounded by swaybots. Completely inappropriate. Kudos to Cole for staying focused on his performance.  There are no huge moments in this song, which could spell trouble on an important night.  Christina can’t believe he was a single chair turn (He was initially on Cee Lo’s team). Cee Lo still loves him! He drops Rod Stewarts name. Lots of name dropping tonight. Adam regrets not turning around for him.  “I’m a stupid person.” Blake claps in agreement. He’s good for the show, says Blake, and feels he could win the whole thing (What? No. He’s good. But not that good.)  – 1-877-553-3709

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Tessanne Chin – Team Adam – “Many Rivers to Cross” by Jimmy Cliff – Tessanne used to sing background vocals for Jimmy. So she’s pulling out this card pretty quick. She was blown away after Bob Marley’s son called her. She’s a bigger star than ever in Jamaica. Adam decides to raise the key on the song, to lend it some urgency. WOW. Ok. This is an EFFING AMAZING VOCAL. Holy cow–fantastic phrasing, tone pitch and SO MUCH EMOTION. One of the best versions of that classic song that I’ve EVER heard. The song brings Tessanne to tears. STANDING OVATION. Christina tells her to soak it in. Cee Lo says, “They saved the best for last.” Adam calls her soul golden and her talent “mind boggling.” – 1-877-553-3710

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About mj santilli 33207 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!