‘The Voice’ Finalists Face Cutthroat Live Playoffs

Contestants Julio Cesar Castillo and Amanda Brown were just a few to receive overwhelming praise from the judges on Monday night.

It’s been weeks of chair spinning, contestant stealing and most importantly, some good ol’ fashioned singing, but Monday night’s episode of “The Voice” marked new territory for the singing competition as finalists went head-to-head during part one of this season’s live playoffs round.

As host Carson Daly explained, the evening solely belonged to two teams of contestants (Adam Levine and Blake Shelton), where each of the five finalists on the respective teams duked it out for a place in the final dozen. With input from viewers at home, the top two singers who rack up the most of America’s votes will advance to the final round of the competition. Contestants didn’t just have to impress viewers, but also their own mentor as each of them will save one of their remaining teammates and send them into the top 12.

Not the entire two-hour broadcast was cutthroat though, with Levine and Shelton’s teams kicking off “The Voice” with a collective performance of Boston’s “Peace of Mind,” but after the group number, it was down to business.

Team Adam Levine
Joselyn Rivera — Joselyn proved that big things do come in small packages with her performance of Demi Lovato’s “Give Your Heart A Break.” Formerly of Team Xtina, the 17-year-old admitted her nerves pre-performance, but kept it cool and confident during the pop number as she swayed around the beaming stage. Donning a pink dress (and ear-to-ear grin), Rivera received unanimous praise from the entire panel, including her judge. “You killed it,” Levine told his curly haired finalist. “You listened to what I had to say, but you still stuck to your guns and did your thing.”

Melanie Martinez — As one of this season’s most unique contestants, Melanie took another step toward standing apart from her competition with a risky song selection: a jazz club twist on timeless classic “Hit the Road Jack.” With her smooth tone and charisma, Martinez delivered an overall solid number, but did catch a bit of critique from Christina, who called out the singer for her shaky start. “It started out a little pitchy. I could hear the nerves, which is understandable,” she said.

Bryan Keith — There are times when a performer can bring so much energy to a number that some wobbly vocals don’t appear as noticeably, and that was the case with Bryan Keith’s cover of the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris.” It was an ideal song pick for the contestant’s raspy voice, but he fell flat during parts of the tune. Nonetheless, his coach Adam didn’t appear to care too much, saying, “There were a little difficulty with the lower notes… However, it doesn’t matter because the spirit and soulfulness of which you sang that song was so locked into this crowd.”

Loren Allred — Coach Levine expressed his concern over Allred’s ability to break out of her shell, but Lisa Stansfield’s “All Around The World” did the trick … kind of. Ending her performance with some belting notes, the singer delivered a so-so performance in comparison to her competition, but Adam requested to hear even more of those high notes from her if she were to make it to the final 12.

Amanda Brown — There are good contestants and great contestants. Brown is one of the greats. As the last performance of the night, the singer threw the audience a genre curve ball and raised the bar with a chilling rendition of Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” Utilizing her upper register, Brown was able to mimic the song’s screechy notes in a similar fashion to Steven Tyler. With fire in her eyes, the singer performed as if she had already won “The Voice.”

Team Blake Shelton
Terry McDermott — Some contestants simply kill their performance right off the bat, and McDermott is one of those singers. Taking on Journey classic “Don’t Stop Believin’,” the Scottish rocker performed with so much comfort you could easily forget you were watching a singing competition. It was the obvious talent [I assume?] that brought Coach Shelton to compliment his finalist, saying, “You’re making classic rock new again and cool again.”

Liz Davis — It’s apparent that Shelton feels a little more near and dear to Davis as she’s his only country contestant, so it was interesting to watch the judge strategically choose a tune that softened up her aggressive performance style. With Martina McBride’s “Independence Day,” the blonde haired songstress soared throughout the song and let it finish with a wailing note, which was more than enough for her judge Blake, who deemed her “the right country artist to bring into the live rounds.”

Cassadee Pope — Pope has been dubbed the former lead singer of Hey Monday gone solo, and it sounds like her transition to solo stardom has been smooth, especially with her rendition of “My Happy Ending,” courtesy of Avril Lavigne on Monday. While Xtina and Cee Lo gave props to her vocal performance (particularly her tone and vibrato), Adam questioned the pop/rock singer’s musical identity.

Michaela Paige — During the show’s rehearsal time, Shelton is seen telling Paige that age isn’t all that important, and that sentiment stayed true during her performance. This high school senior showcased some big hair and bigger notes during her version of Neon Trees’ “Everybody Talks.” It was a surefire hit amongst the crowd and the judges with Cee Lo exclaiming, “I thought that was probably the best performance of the night, if you ask me.”

Julio Cesar Castillo — Unlike Pope, Castillo is set on his musical identity and tapped into his Hispanic background with famed-Mariachi song “El Rey” for his performance. It was a rather ballsy move, but it met the leather jacket wearing contestant with a standing ovation from the panel. Xtina, who gleamed brightly throughout the number, offered the singer enormous praise. “You made all the Latino people out there so proud,” she said. Similarly, Shelton agreed, praising his emotional delivery. Excelente!

What was your favorite performance on Monday’s episode? Let us know below!