The singers make dedications to loved ones, but Blake Shelton gets fed up with Christina Aguilera's cultural compartmentalization of one contestant.
Now that there are only 6 singers in the running to be crowned the winner of The Voice, they each have to sing two songs in order to fill Monday night's two-hour episode: one assigned by their coach and one they can pick in dedication to a source of inspiration. Classics and chart-toppers flooded the night's set list, but one coach stood up in frustration of the growing cultural compartmentalization of one singer.
First, Blake Shelton’s sole contender Cole Vosbury kicked off the episode by singing his coach’s pick Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl,” performing this time with an electric guitar, but still as gritty but as effortless as ever. “I love listening to you every time you’re up here; it’s such a pleasure,” said Levine. Vosbury then dedicated James Morrison’s “Better Man” to his first love, full of well-phrased and emotionally authentic moments. “It’s not about hitting the high note and staying there the performance,” said Shelton. “It’s about showing some character and how vulnerable you can be on that stage, and all the different dimensions you need to be a star.”
Adam Levine asked Tessanne Chin to tackle a purely acoustic version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” While the stripped-down performance aimed to showcase her emotional vulnerabilities, Aguilera could only focus on one thing, like she did after her song last week. “Every week, I hear that Jamaican accent get a little bit stronger, I hear it more and more – you know I love that,” she said, followed by an irrelevant anecdote set in Jamaica. Still, Shelton said otherwise after Chin performed Katy Perry’s new single “Unconditionally” in dedication to her parents, possibly also to remind viewers of her current relevance, one that’s vocally ambitious and not specifically regional. “All that’s stuff’s cool and I know you’re proud of that, but you are a world-class vocalist, and that’s what I think people should talk about,” he said, practically in reference to Aguilera’s comment earlier in the evening as well as last week’s episode. Levine shouted back that he agreed and will take note for the future.
Aguilera’s Matthew Schuler first chose to sing One Direction’s “The Story of My Life” in dedication to his family. Though it took a while for the energy to translate onstage, he fell back on his solid long notes. Levine personally noted that “Hallelujah” was “one of the best performances on the show, and in a way, it becomes more difficult for you to surpass that every time,” but praised his efforts. His coach then assigned Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman” to showcase his blues and soul sides, and thankfully loosening up his phrasing and leaving room for memorable riffs. “That was as good as I’ve ever heard you sing,” praised Shelton on the classic.
Levine’s Will Champlin dedicated Sam Cook’s “Change Is Gonna Come” to his wife and daughter. He kicked off with a piano introduction, and then stood up and switched to a gritty delivery on the microphone. “You definitely got soul, and more importantly, you got heart,” said Green. He then accepted his coach’s challenge of Avicii’s “Hey Brother,” picking up a banjo to tackle the hybrid genre song. Shelton, after hearing Levine’s explanation of what the original sounds like, praised the creative execution.
James Wolpert, though sick, chose to sing The White Stripes’ “I Fell in Love With a Girl,” channeling his successful Jack White blind audition, but with a country twist. He stood on the stage with his acoustic guitar, saying in the pocket of the song. “It was basically acoustic, but you still sing on ten,” said an impressed Shelton, despite the fact that Levine pointed out a couple of his contestant’s mistakes. His coach then had him sing Meat Loaf’s “I’d Do Anything for Love,” a song that’s impossible to over embellish and therefore perfect for Wolpert, who always does. I think you really do embody the rock opera,” said Green, who loved his theatrical use of the stage. “It’s just enough confidence that makes you so cool.”
Aguilera had Jacquie Lee attempt Janis Joplin’s “Cry Baby” – a vocally demanding, and quite repetitive, song. While she has proven all season that she can hit the big notes, audiences who generally aren’t fans of the power ballad were surely turned off by the song at a constant high dynamic, plus the chorus’ many peaks as she dropped to her knees at the close. Her coach then walked onstage, and threw the microphone stand on the floor to mimic that Lee “left it all out on the stage.” Green agreed, saying, “I really believe that you’re like a medium of some sort, some type of vessel. You’ve had the most dynamic variety of song choice, it’s really impressive.” Lee then took on Aguilera’s “The Voice Within” in dedication to her coach, who inspired her long before the show. While she didn’t deviate a degree from Aguilera’s phrasing, she once again delivered a solid performance.
What did you think of tonight's performances? Which singers deserve to advance, and which should be sent home? Which coach will lose all of his or her singers first? Sound off in the comments below.