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'The Voice' recap: The Top 12 take it live

April 22, 2014|By Amy Reiter
  • Team Usher's Josh Kaufman performs live on "The Voice."
Team Usher's Josh Kaufman performs live on "The Voice." (Trae Patton / NBC )

The first live show of the season on "The Voice" on Monday night was not without glitches. There was the usual minor stuff: the coaches talking over one another or having to rush through their notes because of time constraints. And then there was one whopper. 

While Team Shakira country vocalist Kristen Merlin was singing a super-impassioned rendition of "Stay" by Sugarland, on which she hoped to showcase her vulnerability, her mic suddenly went silent. Just completely cut out. There she was, singing her heart out — or so it appeared — but we could hear none of it. Eventually, as the song ended, someone ran out to hand Merlin another mic, but the snafu was heartbreaking. So much practice, so much at stake — if the audience who would vote to determine her fate couldn't hear Merlin sing, would it all be for naught.

But the coaches — all four of them — stood to give Merlin a standing ovation, and their response nearly moved her to tears. Adam Levine marveled that when she was confronted with something "bigger and scarier" than anyone in her position should have to contend with, she "handled it so gracefully." He would have been "in a puddle" of his "own nerves," weeping and sucking his thumb, or throwing a "hissy fit" and running off stage, he said; Merlin had kept totally cool.

The other coaches focused on the audible part of Merlin's performance. Blake Shelton said she kept "getting better and better" and sounded "incredible." Usher said he'd been "able to have, like, an intimate moment" with Merlin's voice, admiring its "texture" and "yodel." Shakira called the performance "heartfelt" and "moving" and said she'd gotten lost in the moment, "just mesmerized by what you were doing," its "sentiment" and "sincerity."

Will Merlin get dinged by voters for a glitch that was not her fault? Or will they support her despite — or because of — it? We will find out on Tuesday night, in the season's first voter-determined results show.

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Of course, the fates of Merlin's fellow Top 12 members hang in the balance as well. Each of them also performed on Monday. Here's how:

—Team Usher's Bria Kelly boldly sought to put her bluesy spin onAdele's "Rolling in the Deep." The song choice could have proved suicidal, but Kelly changed it up and held her own. Shakira complimented Kelly on her "grit" and said she loved it when she got "all fierce" and showed what she was made of. Levine called her rendition "angsty," "young" and "different," but said he would have preferred it in a higher key. Shelton "loved the rock edge" Kelly had brought and understood the lower key to have been strategic. Usher called the song choice "courageous" and added that he'd "felt fire," passion and "energy" in Kelly's performance.

—Team Adam's singing barista Delvin Choice dedicated his performance of the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" to his "mommy and daddy," who were about to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Shelton said he'd been wrong the previous week when he said Choice sang better when he let his hair down, because his hair was "back in the calzone or whatever" this week and he still sang the heck out of the song. Usher called Choice a "threat vocally" with an "amazing talent" and said he'd made a song about "pain" and "sad emotion" a little happier. "I don't know if that's a good or bad thing," Usher said, "but I know I enjoyed it." Shakira complimented Choice on the "perfect" delivery of his falsettos, trills and runs, and said she'd lost herself in his "silky" vocals. Levine said he'd gotten the "goosebumps" he'd hoped for.

—Team Shakira's Dani Moz tackled Pink's "Just Give Me a Reason" and succeeded in her goal of not making her performance "too musical theater." Levine said he thought Moz did a "fantastic" job "budgeting" her breath and overcoming nerves and pressure, but wished for more dynamics. Shelton said Levine was "wrong … so wrong," contending that Moz had in fact chosen a key moment to take the song in a powerful direction. Shakira called the dynamics "perfect" and said Moz had "the sickest range." Moz had done, she said, "unbelievably well."

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