'The Voice' kicks off its live playoffs

4:06 PM, Nov 6, 2012   |    comments
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By Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY


Getting into the Election Day spirit, The Voice opened the voting lines for the first time this season.

After the blind auditions, knockout rounds and steals, the singing competition moved into slightly less-confusing territory: the live playoffs. That means it's time for 20 singers to be cut to 12 finalists this week.

On Monday night, the singers on Team Adam Levine and Team Blake Shelton sang for America's votes and their coaches' support. Wednesday, the contestants of Christina Aguilera's and CeeLo Green's teams compete. Thursday, the results are revealed.

Monday's show opened with Adam and Blake's teams joining forces for Boston's Peace of Mind. And then it was time for solos.

Team Adam

Bubbly 17-year-old Joselyn Rivera reached for those high notes and worked the stage on Demi Lovato's Give Your Heart a Break. "I knew I wanted you on my team," said Blake, who wanted to "steal" Joselyn in earlier rounds. Christina, who coached Joselyn before Adam stole her, said, "Your smile lights up the whole room," and recommended the up-tempo pop singer try a ballad next. Coach Adam told Joselyn, "You thrived in this environment."

Melanie Martinez, with her two-toned hair and smooth voice, tip-toed across the stage singing Ray Charles' Hit the Road Jack. Blake, a self-proclaimed fan, liked that Melanie is "not that interested in fitting in. You just want to be Melanie." Christina, who admitted she loved the original song, appreciated Melanie's "subtle approach," but said the performance started out "pitchy." Adam said he was so caught up in the performance, "I didn't find myself comparing" it to the original.

Bryan Keith played to his soulful strengths with Goo Goo Dolls' Iris. The girls in the audience, many of whom reached up to touch Bryan, cheered their support. Blake said he loved Bryan's energy, noting that he sounded like Neil Diamond on the low notes. Christina said, "That's the most passion I've ever seen you perform with." Adam, impressed with Bryan, said he should try to avoid dips in his low notes.

Former music student Loren Allred performed Lisa Stansfield's All Around the World, ending the song with an impressive vocal trill. CeeLo, dressed-up like Little Richard (or "the love child of Rick James and Prince," as Adam said), liked it, complimenting Loren on her high range. Coach Adam tried to articulate his appreciation of Loren's final note, saying "at the end, when you did the thing that you did...I wanna hear more of that."

Amanda Brown, who has a gospel background, was a rock star singing Dream On by Aerosmith. When she ended the song with a falsetto, the crowd lost it. "Get it, girl," cheered Christina. Adam, who stole Amanda from CeeLo, said, "This was, by far, the performance of the night."

Team Blake

Scottish rocker Terry McDermott was tasked with covering the classic Don't Stop Believin'. He met the challenge effortlessly, with a voice that Christina called "easy on the ears." "You're always dead-on," Christina added. CeeLo called Terry a "genuine article of rock and roll." Blake said this about his singer: "When God was passing out the ability to rock, he gave Terry just a little bit more."

Country singer Liz Davis started Martina McBride's Independence Day from the mike stand, but later grabbed the mike and belted from all corners of the stage. Christina told Liz she had a "strong, solid" voice, and CeeLo said the song made him "proud to be an American." Blake told Liz he was proud to have her as the only country singer left on the show.

Cassadee Pope, who fronts band Hey Monday, showed off her range in My Happy Ending by Avril Lavigne. She, too, ditched the mike stand to effectively rock on. Christina called her out on missing a note, but added, "you hit some high notes that surprised me." CeeLo said Cassadee brought the song to life with her vibrato. Adam, who wanted Cassadee on his team, said he still doesn't know who Cassadee is. Blake, who gave Cassadee a standing ovation, countered, "I think you're going to have plenty of time to figure out" who she is, because he expects Cassadee to be around for a while.

Sixteen-year-old punk rocker Michaela Paige showed off her range and multi-hued mohawk with Everybody Talks by Neon Trees. CeeLo called it the best performance of the night. "You did a wonderful job working the audience," he said. Blake agreed. "It really was" the best performance of the night, he said, complimenting her on her vocal technique.

Mariachi singer Julio Cesar Castillo displayed his strong vibrato with the Spanish El Rey. Coach Blake advised Julio to think of "the saddest thing" possible, in order to convey emotion to the audience. Apparently, the technique worked, because the crowd was yelling "Julio" and the coaches were standing by the end of the song. The half-Ecuadorean Christina said, "I know you made all the Latino people out there so proud. You truly gave your heart to that song." Blake said, "I don't know if you noticed what happened in the audience, but it was pretty good, buddy."

Copyright 2012 USATODAY.com

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