After Team Adam and Team Usher performed on last night’s The Voice, it’s time for Team Blake and Team Shakira. Blake is overjoyed that he has a team of all country artists, restating his dream of bringing a country artist to the grand finale. Shakira, on the other hand, is nervous and comparing herself to a mama bird. Usher and Adam are asked to reflect on how their teams did the night before, and dole out the usual amount of praise, as if Carson expects that one of them is going to go on live television and say something negative about their artists.
Team Blake starts the show, with a clip package of them getting coaching at a karaoke bar. Being taken to a karaoke bar by Blake Shelton has to be one of the most awesome experiences on the planet. Performances of party songs ensue, with the most entertaining of them being Danielle Bradbery laughing her way through “YMCA.” This segues right into Team Blake’s group performance of “Boondocks.” Such a Blake choice, and it sounds exactly like you’d expect it to.
Leading off the individual songs is Team Shakira’s second-chance artist, Garrett Gardner. Shakira has asked him to sing John Lennon’s “Imagine” – an iconic tune if there ever was one – and play the piano. Turns out that Garrett is a Lennon “fanatic,” so that must add a little pressure for him, too. However, he’s got nothing to worry about. His version is pretty darn fantastic, and if he can pass muster with Adam, who is a well-known admirer of that track, he should get through to the next round. On another note, Usher confuses the words “computer” and “piano.”
Usher: I’m happy to see you at a computer…I’m happy to see you at a piano.
Following Garrett is Team Blake’s Holly Tucker, with “How Do I Live” by LeAnn Rimes, best known as the closing theme from the 1997 Nicolas Cage-John Cusack flick Con Air. Blake wants to see her have more fun because she’s so hard on herself. If you’ve ever heard the original version of this song, Holly has the power to give the track the push that it needs. It’s a straightforward country ballad done by a straightforward country artist, and Blake is way too excited about it.
Carson: He’s a proud papa…and he’s been drinking.
In the middle of uniform applause for Holly, there’s this lovely gem:
Adam: You’re better looking and more talented than Blake is.
Blake’s so happy, he applauds that, too. Maybe we should cut off his supply of Starbucks lattes but that probably wouldn’t help much. Moving on, it’s Team Shakira’s Kris Thomas. Shakira has assigned him Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” (there’s a lot of Bruno Mars love on the show this season). The two of them sing part of the song together during rehearsal, which throws Kris for an understandable loop. His performance is solid, if a bit nervous, as Adam points out. Blake points out that people should be nervous under these circumstances. Going on to try and describe the difference between male and female singers, he then makes Carson wish they weren’t on live TV.
Carson: It’s clear tonight Blake doesn’t know what a ‘girl place’ is. Thanks for that.
Kris is continuing to work hard every week, and there’s no huge fault with anything he’s done so far. If there’s a question about him, it’s if he might run into some trouble later on in the competition, when he could up splitting the R&B vote with Vedo.
Next to perform are the show’s only remaining duo, Team Blake’s The Swon Brothers. Their take on Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Fishing in the Dark” is the usual good time we’ve come to expect from them. Shakira points out how they make her feel at ease and comfortable. Adam is happy that Blake finally has his country moment, and then mentions that an instrument was out of tune. Blake laughs at Adam for not knowing the song, which is ill-advised, as Adam points out in his retort:
Adam: You never know any songs ever. The first song I didn’t know. Leave me alone.
After more Sprint Skybox chatter, Blake and Shakira combine for Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now.” You wouldn’t expect a Latin superstar to handle a country song so well, but she does. Even though she has a noticeable accent, Shakira enunciates the lyrics better than some American singers out there. Blake, of course, could probably perform this song while asleep. As an added bonus, you can even see Usher clapping and singing along. If you missed that duet, it’s at the end of this recap.
Team Shakira’s Karina Iglesias has to follow that, with her version of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” Hearing that, Adam is disappointed that he let her go. Blake laughs at Adam admitting to his mistake. Everyone thinks Karina did well. Following her is Team Blake’s Justin Rivers, whom Blake has handed Diamond Rio’s “Meet in the Middle.” Usher believes Justin’s performance was cool even though he felt like he was the only person who didn’t know what was going on. Then there’s Adam.
Adam: I like that there’s a country artist that’s genuinely a threat to Blake’s career. That’s kinda awesome.
Shakira takes her team to meet with her choreographer in order to prepare for their performance of “We Are The Champions.” They’re going to have to work hard because the song was already covered well, first by the coaches and then by Season 2’s Tony Vincent. No one can deny they’re trying, but it’s just not the fist-pumping rock anthem this particular song should always be.
NBC has wisely saved two of the stronger artists to the end of the show. The first is Team Blake’s Danielle Bradbery, with the Pam Tillis song “Maybe It Was Memphis,” which Blake correctly predicts a lot of peole won’t know. Those people certainly know the song now as Danielle continues to perform like someone a lot older and more experienced than she is. After Adam jokes that Blake has never said any wise words, he crowns Danielle one of the best singers in the competition, and reminds us all that she’s just sixteen years old. We can now all look back on what we were doing at sixteen and feel inadequate.
Finishing off the night is Team Shakira’s Sasha Allen, with “Oh! Darling.” Juliet Simms pretty much delivered the definitive version of this song in Season 2, but Sasha hits some crazy notes in her version. Adam suggests she could win the show if she were on Carson’s team. Blake laughs at Adam again and continues to do so up until the point where Shakira starts talking. It’s clear that Sasha has won over the coaches, and she probably made a few new fans, too.
You can vote to save your favorites from Team Blake and Team Shakira until tomorrow morning (voting has closed for Team Adam and Team Blake) on nbc.com, Facebook, and iTunes. Once you’ve done that, don’t forget to tune in to a special results show tomorrow night, when four artists will be sent home, leaving your Top 12.
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick/Big Red Chairs. Excerpts appear at Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @bigredchairs.