“The Voice” Recap: It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here

photo by Trae Patton/NBC

Things heated up on The Voice when the Top 12 took the stage as part of the live playoffs. It was more than just the performances that were hot, though, when temperatures rose in the studio due to a broken air conditioner in the middle of a heat wave. Through it all, the singers kept their cool and delivered some of the season’s best performances. Here are the highlights.

Team Usher’s Vedo kicked off the night belting out the late King of Pop’s “Rock With You” and drew cheers from the crowd and praise from the coaches for his ability to sing and dance. More compliments were thrown Josiah Hawley’s way after he chose to go acoustic on The Script’s “The Man Who Couldn’t Be Moved.” Usher said working with Josiah was like mentoring a young Adam Levine—and not just because they both look damn good in a white T-shirt. Indie artist Michelle Chamuel brought loads of energy to Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” and made her coach proud, again. Now she just needs to hope America calls her number and moves her into the Top 10.

Team Blake stayed on the country path, beginning with songbird Holly Tucker’s soaring version of Martina McBride’s “Broken Wing.” Usher told her that anyone who has doubted her talent was a “freaking idiot,” and Blake Shelton gave her a standing O—and a new guitar (well, actually, he gave everyone on his team one of those). The Swon Brothers showcased their harmonies on “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes,” a tribute to George Jones. “You delivered it,” said Adam. “I forgot it was a competition, because I was enjoying it so much.” Blake called it their “breakout moment.” The youngest performer in the contest, 16-year-old Danielle Bradbery, hit all the right notes with Carrie Underwood’s “Wasted.” Her ability to keep a calm demeanor onstage drew a comparison to Margaret Thatcher from Shakira (“You’re like a mini-Iron Lady”). Adam called the aspiring country-pop artist the “one to beat” and admitted his own team has work to do.

Team Adam proved the right move was picking Sarah Simmons over Caroline Glaser last week. Sarah wowed the coaches with a powerful and gorgeous version of Brandi Carlile’s “The Story.” “Thank you for showing us the extremes of your voice—the dramatic, the gravel, and then coming back down to the softness,” said Blake.  “The song definitely suits your voice, your style,” agreed Shakira. Judith Hill stood out by playing the piano with no musical accompaniment by the Voice band on Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” earning her kudos from Blake: “You’re one we can count on for greatness week after week.” And even though Adam is his arch frenemy, Blake couldn’t help but rave after Amber Carrington’s rendition of another Martina McBride ballad, “I’m Going to Love You Through It.” “You did Martina proud, and even more important, you did Nashville proud," he said. "Adam has got a star on his hands with you.” Usher seconded that, saying, “I see you having an incredible career, whether you win or not.”

Team Shakira showed some out-of-the-box thinking by giving rocker Garrett Gardner the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.” It was “cool as hell,” if she did say so herself. And Usher reacted by taking off his shirt, or was that due to the lack of air conditioning? Sasha Allen faced the challenge of sounding like a pop singer and not a Broadway one when she took on the emotional “Alone” by Heart. “It was heavenly,” said her coach. Kris Thomas sang the second Michael Jackson song of the night, “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5. It was a shaky performance, although listening to the coaches you wouldn’t have known it. Only Usher offered some constructive criticism and then gave Kris props for taking a chance—“no risk, no reward.”

Up next: Hopefully the air conditioning is working tonight when it’s time to sweat out the results show, during which two performers go home.

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