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'The Voice' recap: The Top 12 show range and passion

November 12, 2013|By Amy Reiter
  • Jacquie Lee performs on "The Voice."
Jacquie Lee performs on "The Voice." (Trae Patton / NBC )

Rock-and-roll hearts, gospel roots and R&B souls: The top 12 singers on 'The Voice" sought to show their passion and range on Monday's performance-packed show. Some returned to their sweet spots. Others stepped out of their comfort zones. It was a night defined by remarkable consistency, with no dramatic stumbles and lots of solid turns in the spotlight.

CeeLo Green assigned kittenish Caroline Pennell "Wake Me Up," by Avicii, hoping to show America she was capable of enlivening an up-tempo song with her caressingly quirky vocal style. Pennell also proved she could work the stage and look good in heels and hot pants. The coaches were pleased. Blake Shelton thought Pennell did "a great job of staying in the pocket" even amid clapping from a "studio audience that has the worst rhythm ever." Adam Levine expressed admiration for Pennell's "energy" and vocal "purity."

Team Christina Aguilera's Josh Logan had a challenge for the evening: make voters forget the overembellished version of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" that landed him in his team's bottom three last week. Hoping to help Logan connect, Aguilera assigned him Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" and advised him to scale back and simplify. When he did, Aguilera expressed satisfaction that Logan had "showcased" his "heart and soul." Green, who had clearly been unimpressed when Logan had done his song the previous week, commended him for being "much improved." And Shelton said that by allowing "the song to shine" Logan had become "more interesting … as an artist."

Team Adam's James Wolpert shifted away from last week's acoustic performance and returned to his indie rock persona, emphatically tackling the Killers' "Mr. Brightside." Levine gushed that Wolpert had given "the most dynamic yet controlled and blistering performance" and "just turned into a rock star in front of our very eyes." Aguilera complimented his "growth" and lack of pitchiness. And Green saw in Wolpert "a legacy of great entertainers," like David Byrne.

Shelton made a strategic move to capture the country-music-fan vote by assigning team member Austin Jenckes to sing Travis Tritt's "It's a Great Day to Be Alive." After Jenckes, who had heretofore been more of a singer-songwriter type, strummed and twanged his way through Tritt's song, Shelton reassured viewers he wasn't trying to mint a new country star, but rather to reveal range and heart. "You're the one guy … everybody wants to sit down and have a beer with," Shelton said. Green wasn't sure about that, but was impressed by Jenckes' country persona. Levine liked the singer's precision, and Aguilera his knack for keeping it "real."

Team Christina's 16-year-old Jacquie Lee was assigned Jack White's "Love Is Blindness." Aguilera said she wanted her "to prove to everyone that she can be current, she can be on the charts, she can take this whole competition." Lee also proved she could make her coach proud. "You set the stage on fire," Aguilera said, calling Lee a "force of nature." Levine said Lee's voice came out "like a dragon," and Green said he loved the way it made him feel. "I forget to think. I forget to clap. I get lost in it," Green said, adding, perhaps inspired by his Zorro-esque outfit, that he was going to download Lee's version of the song, "put it in my iPod and play it the next time I go horseback riding." Oh, CeeLo.

Ray Boudreaux, saved by coach Shelton last week, was tasked with showing his "softer side" with John Legend's "All of Me" because Shelton thought the key to earning the audience's favor might be "something as simple as singing about love." Shelton seemed to swoon. "I got wrapped up in that," he said, adding, "Ray is sexy." Aguilera, though, said she would refrain from judging the performance with her "lower region" and found it to have fallen short "in a couple of places," especially "pitchwise." 

After a demure performance last week, Team CeeLo rocker Kat Robichaud wanted to remind viewers of her onstage dynamism and, as her coach put it, her "Kattitude." She strutted the stage, crowd-surfed (a "Voice" first, Carson Daly said) and ended with a dramatic knee drop – all the while singing AWOLNATION's "Sail" with unwavering potency. Green said she'd captured the "common denominator" of life's pain, yet also offered healing. Shelton compared Robichaud to a lion, stalking the audience like they were a "herd of antelope." Aguilera said she "loved the darkness" – and Levine was so deeply affected he later changed out of his chipper sweater and into a black leather jacket.

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