by Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY
After last week's live playoffs, The Voice is back, with more rules: "There's no more steals and there's no more saves, so I truly hope America makes the right choice," said coach Christina Aguilera.
Last season, each coach was guaranteed one representative into the show's finale. This season, the bottom singers out of all the teams are sent home, X Factor-style. Two of them will exit Tuesday (8 ET/PT, NBC).
"Now I'm kinda nervous about it," admitted Christina.
First up was Team Blake's punk-rocker Michaela Paige. She let her mohawk down and powerful voice out for Pink's Blow Me (One Last Kiss). CeeLo and Christina called her one of their favorites. "You worked that stage like a professional," said CeeLo. "Your voice is very bright and bold," complimented Christina. Adam thought the performance was "graceful," and Blake, who saved Paige from elimination, said, "Gosh, my heart is pounding right now. That left absolutely no doubt in my mind that I made the right call."
Team Christina cutie Dez Duron, who calls himself a "soulful pop artist," showed off his soulful side (without completely letting go of his boy-band moves) with Can't Take My Eyes Off of You. CeeLo called the performance "impeccable," and Adam, speaking over girlish screams, said that Dez found his style in this song. Blake, who didn't realize Dez was doing the Lauryn Hill version rather than Frankie Valli's original ("I'm an old bastard," he joked), said "I agree with the (screaming) girls." Christina talked up her singer with "a heart of gold."
Last week she sang Katy Perry, this week it was Carrie Underwood for Adriana Louise of Team Christina. The pop singer got sassy with Good Girl, ending the song by singing right to Adam, who appreciated the gesture. "Besides being very surprised that you were that close to my face," said Adam, "there were a couple moments" where Adriana struggled with high notes. CeeLo appreciated Adriana's commitment to the song, and Christina liked the playfulness of the performance, being sure to point out how difficult the song choice was. "All those little runs in between," she said, demonstrating one effortlessly. "It's really hard, you guys."
Team CeeLo's Cody Belew wants "to be remembered for epic performances." Was his cover of The Best by Tina Turner just that? Not too far off, according to the judges. Adam called Cody, who was wearing a sequined blazer, one of the best performers left, and reminiscent of Prince. Blake said, "You always sound good, and you own the stage." Christina wanted to see more moving around the stage in an up-tempo song. CeeLo, who saved Cody from elimination, told his singer he enjoyed him "as a person."
Team Adam's Amanda Brown, whose Aerosmith performance was a favorite last week, did her best Florence Welch impression, performing Spectrum with a flowing dress and graceful arms. However, she seemed to have some issues deciding when to use her falsetto voice, and when to belt it out. "It wasn't perfect," said Adam, calling Spectrum "one of the most ambitious songs you could sing." Still, "I think you could win this entire thing," he said. CeeLo thought the performance on a small platform "was a little constricting for you." Christina said, "You're an undeniable singer... but I'm still waiting to connect with who you are as an artist."
Bryan Keith of Team Adam suited up for a smooth version of Amy Winehouse's Back to Black. His snazzy look, complete with hat, went well with his "modern-day, raspy Sinatra thing," as Christina called it. "I think you just took the lead for Team Adam," said Blake. Christina seconded that. CeeLo called the performance "great," and Adam labeled the song a "breakout moment" for Bryan.
Team Blake's pop-rocker Cassadee Pope took on Behind These Hazel Eyes with an electric guitar in tow and purple streaks in her hair. The song, which she said made her think of her dad, sounded more like Avril Lavigne than Kelly Clarkson, but that may be what she was going for. Christina said she "got to feel your heart" in the song, which Christina could relate to. She did point out that Cassadee was "reaching for some notes," though. Adam agreed that the song revealed Cassadee's "soulfulness." Blake, who gave his singer a standing ovation, said, "People love you."
Trevin Hunte of Team CeeLo is barely an adult at 18 years old, but his performance of When a Man Loves a Woman came across as mature, emotional and intense. The coaches gave him a standing ovation. "It's hard to say much," said Adam. "You have a gift from God... I've never heard anything like it." Christina, bitter about not being Trevin's coach, liked the raspy tone in his voice. CeeLo said, "I believe you're an angel of some sort. I'm humbled by your voice."
Melanie Martinez of Team Adam got really emotional - a crawling-on-the-ground-and-practically-crying type of emotional - during her performance of Cough Syrup by Young the Giant. Though it was hard to hear her raspy voice at home, Blake thought Melanie projected well with her "unique" voice. Christina liked the "emotional performance," and coach Adam said, "There's only one Melanie in this competition," referring to her folksy sound and Cruella De Vil style hair.
Team CeeLo's quirky, long-haired Nicholas David sang Power of Love by Huey Lewis. Following his coach's advice, he traded in his keyboard to perform with a band. His voice was powerful, but he closed his eyes for most of the performance. Adam said, "You are so strange and beautiful." Blake said that Nicholas struggled to keep up with the song, but that was... a good thing? "As a viewer, as a fan, we can't wait to see what you do next," he said. CeeLo added, "Everybody's different and wonderful in their own way, and you represent that."
It's hard to disassociate My Heart Will Go On from a giant ship and a glacier, but Team Christina's Sylvia Yacoub sang the Celine Dion hit with a serious intensity. Judges cited her nerves in the beginning, but respected her bold voice and song choice. "I've never even seen anybody else cover that song," said CeeLo. "That's not even a song," Adam said, trying to articulate how tough the single is to perform. Christina called the performance "extremely ambitious" and "fearless."
Team Blake's Terry McDermott snagged the final spot with More Than a Feeling by Boston. The Scottish rocker looked and sounded comfortable dragging a mike stand around and showcasing his falsetto. "I don't even know if you guys realize how good Terry is," said Adam. "That is so special. Holy crap, it's so good." CeeLo agreed, "That was damn good, bro." Coach Blake said, "Ladies and gentlemen, please say hi to a gift from rock music."
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