Pleading looks from the singers as a number scrolls at the bottom of the screen; microphones shutting off mid-performance; singers showing America why they're worth voting for. It could only mean one thing: "The Voice" has finally reached the live rounds of competition.
After weeks of grueling battles and playoffs, the top 12 singers showed off their vocal chops live Monday night (April 21) while coaches Adam Levine, Shakira, Usher, and Blake Shelton relinquished their control over elimination to America.
With so many great contenders, it's tough to determine which team leads the pack so far, but we've rounded up our four favorites of the night:
Team Adam's 'Dark Horse'
Tasked with singing covers of existing songs, it's a challenge for contestants on a singing competition to show the world what kind of artist they will be once the show is over. But when Team Adam's Christina Grimmie hit the live stage with Katy Perry's current smash "Dark Horse," she did just that. Her powerful rendition of the song impressed all the coaches, and left Usher convinced that the song could be hers. Shelton told the young artist that she is "100 percent proof that dynamite comes in small packages" before declaring her the singer to beat on Team Adam.
Adam Continues to Feel Stupid
We've gone a little over nine weeks without seeing the unique coaching methods Usher employed in previous seasons, but that all changed on the first night of live rounds. While rehearsing with Josh Kaufman, Usher noticed that the singer was timid and tight, and made him run a lap around the stage. It definitely worked because when it came to perform the song live, all nerves went out the window.
Singing Sam Smith's contemporary yet retro "Stay With Me" Kaufman's vocals were expectedly incredible, but his stage presence is what took the performance over the top. He commanded the stage engaged with the audience. Usher, who was grinning from ear-to-ear throughout the performance, gave his singer a standing ovation, while his former coach Levine threw out a few fist pumps before admitting that he feels stupid whenever Kaufman hits the stage. Shelton declared Kaufman the singer to beat on Team Usher.
Shakira's 'Rock Chick'
Tess Boyer has been an underdog of sorts on "The Voice," but quickly found a home on Team Shakira. Singing Bon Jovi's power ballad "I'll Be There For You," Boyer "attacked the words" with the same intensity and punch heard in the original while adding her own emotion and femininity. Shelton declared her the singer to beat on Team Shakira before predicting that she would take the team the furthest.
The Song Must Go On
Kristen Merlin (or as Shelton likes to refer to her, "the only country singer not on my team") and coach Shakira agreed that it'd be a good idea to show a more emotional side to the singer. And with Sugarland's raw ballad "Stay," Merlin did just that. Sitting on a stool for most of the performance, the singer allowed herself (and the audience) to get lost in the words of the song.
As her performance came to a close, however, Merlin's microphone shut for about 20 seconds before someone replaced it. All four coaches gave Merlin a standing ovation for handling such a crisis like a true artist, Levine even admitting that if it were him, he'd have been in a "puddle of [his] own nerves."
The fate of the 12 singers lies in the hands of America as "The Voice" is now open for voting. Two singers will be sent home Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on NBC.