What We Learned From Top 12 Eliminations

The Voice

On Tuesday night, The Voice revealed the results of America’s first vote for Season 6, and narrowed down its Top 12 to the Top 10. Here are a few things that we took away from the results show. SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen Tuesday’s live eliminations show yet, read no further, because we’re about to tell you exactly who got knocked out of the competition.

01) This was not a good week to be on Team Shakira. After Kristen Merlin’s microphone failed last night, America thankfully didn’t hold it against her. But both of her teammates, Dani Moz and Tess Boyer, were in the bottom three. Dani was eliminated, while Tess became Season 6′s first recipient of the Twitter-based Instant Save – which may actually be to her detriment, as every artist who has been Instant Saved has then been dropped the following week. We’ll see if Tess can break that unlucky trend when next Tuesday’s results are tabulated.

02) Highs and lows for Team Usher. It was Josh Kaufman who received the first iTunes multiplier vote bonus of Season 6, as his studio version of “Stay With Me” charted this week. On the other hand, his teammate T.J. Wilkins was the other artist sent packing (and before his time, in our opinion). It’s definitely a split decision for Team Usher this week. Leading us to the fact that…

03) The two veteran coaches are still the two to beat. This is not really a surprise to anyone who’s been watching The Voice, but Teams Adam and Blake are (so far) once again outpacing their competition. Back in Season 4, Usher and Shakira were the first to lose artists (Vedo and Garrett Gardner respectively), while it took until the Top 8 to see anyone from Teams Adam or Blake go home. Blake hasn’t lost an artist in the first week of voting since the new Top 12 format was instituted in Season 3 (Michaela Paige), and Adam has never had a singer leave before the Top 10. There’s obviously something to how these two coach that pays off for their artists.

04) Having the artists sing for their Instant Save is an okay idea. Basically the same thing as the “Last Chance” songs from Season 2 (except now the singers are appealing to America rather than their coach), the Instant Save performances are entertaining enough. We had T.J. Wilkins covering Edwin McCain, which made us swoon. And you have to admire Tess Boyer doing Kelly Clarkson and Dani Moz tackling the ever-intimidating Adele. Any chance we get to hear more of the artists is a good thing. Yet we’re not exactly sure what this adds to the show from a production standpoint. How many people actually changed their Twitter votes based on what they heard? Or – as is normally the case with competition shows – did they just stand by the favorite artist they’d already decided to vote for? And can we really blame them for that? If nothing else, introducing this part of the show means there’s less time for shamelessly promotional guest performances.

05) Team performances are still the best part of elimination shows. We know that they’re basically just here to fill the 35 minutes in which Carson Daly isn’t reading the voting results, but watching the teams share the stage with each other and their superstar coaches has always been an incredible amount of fun. On Tuesday, we were treated to Team Adam’s version of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and Team Blake singing Travis Tritt’s “Put Some Drive In Your Country,” which was particularly amusing since Jake Worthington performed another Travis Tritt song less than 24 hours before. Now if only we could download these on iTunes to enjoy for much longer than a few minutes.

The Voice‘s Top 10 will perform for the right to advance to the Top 8 on Monday at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC.

(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

5 Soundbites From The Top 12

The Voice

The Voice is now live, and we were on hand yesterday to watch the Top 12 artists perform for your votes. Afterward, we spoke to several of the finalists – as well as coach Adam Levine – and here are five of the most entertaining or memorable soundbites from Monday night.

1) Kristen Merlin doesn’t think montaging artists is a good thing: Team Shakira’s country singer brushed off a microphone failure that left half her performance falling on deaf ears, but she did admit to a little apprehension when it came to The Voice‘s practice of montaging certain pre-taped performances. “It makes me nervous that people haven’t had a lot of face time with me. And that’s okay. I just have to take the stage and just rock it every time,” said Kristen, who got the montage treatment during battle rounds. “It kind of made me a little nervous tonight when [the microphone] cut out. I was like ‘They need to hear me!’ But it’s all good.”

2) Jake Worthington and Audra McLaughlin don’t know what’s in Blake Shelton’s cup either: It’s one of the show’s biggest mysteries, and it looks like it’s going to stay that way awhile longer. Neither Team Blake artists knows what their coach is drinking. “Honestly, I don’t know. I noticed that he loves Starbucks, so it looks like to me that it’s an iced green tea,” guessed Audra, while Jake told us, “You’ll have to ask him. That ain’t my business to tell!”

3) Even Kat Perkins thinks she should perform with Kat Robichaud: They share first names and an appreciation for rock, so we’ve been thinking a team-up between Team Adam’s frontrunner and Team Cee Lo’s crowdsurfer is in order. Turns out Kat Perkins is on board with this idea, too. “She reached out to me on Twitter the other day. She says she’s recording her record, and I can’t wait to get it, because I was a huge fan of hers last year,” she said. “I can’t wait to hear her record and maybe sing with her one day.” We’ll be first in line to buy tickets for that performance.

4) Team Usher thinks that their coach should consider releasing a workout DVD: After he made Josh Kaufman run a lap during rehearsal for his performance, we asked what Usher’s artists thought about the idea of an official Usher workout video, and response was pretty positive. “I think it’s a great idea. Because he’s definitely a drill sergeant and he gets us ready for the stage,” enthused T.J. Wikins. Agreed his teammate Josh Kaufman, “I think it’s a good idea. People would be into it, right?” Tell us what you think – would you take fitness advice from Usher?

5) Adam Levine on the difference when it comes to coaching for America’s vote: Asked what it’s like to prepare a singer to impress you rather than to win him over, Adam explained his philosophy about coaching in the live rounds. “I think that the most important thing right now, as far as I’m concerned, now that we don’t have any control, is to make them feel comfortable and confident,” he told us. “That’s number one. If you don’t do that, you’re in a lot of trouble. You need to instill them with that confidence because now you can’t protect them. We’re no longer the ones they need to impress.”

The Voice narrows its Top 12 down to Top 10 tonight at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC.

(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

Episode Recap: Season 6 Playoffs, Night 2

The Voice - Season 4

After narrowing down Team Blake last Tuesday, The Voice is putting two more teams on the chopping block Monday. It’s Team Shakira and Team Adam who are being narrowed down from five members to three, with their coach having to decide which two artists are going home.

Shakira’s squad begins the night, with country singer Kristen Merlin batting leadoff after being montaged for last parts of the season. We’re finally getting a good look at what Kristen can do with Carrie Underwood’s “Two Black Cadillacs.” Her take on the song certainly has enough power behind it, including one crazy note in the middle, and she knows to keep moving around the stage rather than just stand there and belt it out. Watching this, it’s even more frustrating that Kristen got montaged earlier, because she’s really good.

Adam and Shakira give Kristen a standing ovation; Adam compliments both Kristen and Shakira’s coaching, calling the artist “at the top of your game.” Blake agrees, saying “That’s as flawless as a live performance can be,” although he rips the crowd for not having any rhythm (not the first time he’s said that). Usher says Kristen is “one of the strongest voices in the competition and consistent.” Shakira tells her artist that she’s made her so happy – so hopefully that means she’ll protect Kristen when it comes to make her decisions at the end of the hour. Even Adam and Blake encourage her to keep Kristen on her roster.

Deja Hall has selected Jordin Sparks’ track “Battlefield,” but her inexperience is showing just a little bit. Shakira has to explain to Deja what being “in the pocket” means and help her with her pitch. Will her youth work against her when she’s stacked up against the older, more experienced artists? Possibly, because her version of the song lacks the intensity of the original, and no matter how much emphatic gesturing she does, it doesn’t quite have the same effect as Jordin Sparks – who was just 20 when the song was released – performing it.

Both Blake and Usher talk about Deja growing up, and both Usher and Adam talk about her learning and growing as she goes along. “I think the place you’re at now is better than any other place you’ve been so far,” Adam encourages. Shakira praises Deja’s performance and her growth. Sounds like she heard something that we didn’t.

Third to sing is Tess Boyer, who’s been around this competition like a ping-pong ball. She started with Usher, was stolen by Blake in the first round of battles, and was picked up by Shakira in the second cycle. So is she going to hang in there or will she finally strike out? Her rendition of “Human” by Christina Perri will decide that. The performance starts out slow, but soon Tess is holding out considerable notes.

Everyone argues over who’s the biggest idiot in their handling (or not) of Tess. Adam does an intentionally bad impression of Blake that Blake quips sounds more like Carson. Seriously though, Usher calls Tess “superhuman” and says she’s “reaped the benefits of this entire panel.” Well, except for Adam.

Patrick Thomson selects “Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne, and he’s going to have to try really hard considering that Tony Lucca claimed ownership of this song with his fantastic blind-audition version back in Season 2. Shakira has the same thought we’re having, though obviously not for the same reasons; she tells Patrick he has to convince the panel that he’s an artist, not just a good singer. The grit in Patrick’s voice is put to good use on the track, but is it enough after we’ve heard strong performances from Kristen and Tess?

Former coach Adam calls this Patrick’s “finest moment.” Usher says he “completely took control of the room, took ownership of the song.” Blake actually thanks Patrick for not picking him as his coach, if only because now he gets to laugh at Adam. “You’re such a dumb person,” Adam retorts. laughing. It’s worth noting that we have not heard a truly critical comment from any of the coaches so far in the evening, and we’re almost halfway done.

Finishing the Team Shakira portion of the program is Dani Moz with her take on Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory.” She and Shakira settle on a stripped-down version of the song. It takes a few moments to get used to, but eventually picks up steam, and ends with Dani reaching a few pretty big notes. Maybe this wasn’t the best song to give the stripped-down treatment, but going that route was definitely best to showcase Dani’s voice.

Adam tells Dani that she was “super-nervous in the beginning and then you put it away.” Blake appreciates the emotion that Dani poured into the song and calls it a “game-changer.” Usher praises Dani’s passion, though he concedes “it wasn’t a flawless performance” because of those aforementioned nerves, and admits that he was brought “close to tears” by what he heard. Shakira refers to Dani as a “true artist.”

With her entire roster having performed, it’s time for Shakira to make her eliminations. To us, this seems much more clear-cut than Blake’s decision last week, but of course it’s drawn out for TV time. The lucky winners are Tess, Kristen, and Dani – exactly who we’d have picked. You have to feel bad for Patrick, though, because Shakira’s use of the word “woman” clued him in to the fact that he was about to be sent packing.

Now we move on to Team Adam, beginning with fan favorite Delvin Choice. He’s gone with “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green, a great fit for his voice – and a song that Adam himself has actually performed, so he’s got the right coach to help him here. The result is a pretty great rendition that’s got even Usher clapping along with the beat, though performance-wise, it’s far from Delvin’s most engaging outing. Considering he could probably make the phone book sound good, however, we’ll give him a pass on the performance part – for now. He’ll have to engage the audience more in live shows.

Blake thinks Delvin has grown “leaps and bounds” over the season. Usher says “there’s not a more unique voice” on the show this season. Shakira thinks he took them on a ride and “drove the whole thing in such a tasteful way. We were just in the backseat, just relaxed and enjoying how great your voice is.” Adam and Blake crack wise about not having turned for Delvin in Season 5, which we bet is going to come up a few more times over the next few weeks.

In our book, Jake Barker gets a gold star for even selecting Maroon 5′s “She Will Be Loved,” which contains high notes that honestly have never been handled properly by anyone not named Adam Levine. Adam is amused, but we also know the song means a lot to him personally, too – so since it’s Adam who has to make the final decision, this is tricky territory. Jake injects a little bit of jazz feeling into his version, and no, he can’t hit those high notes, but at least he’s not trying and over-reaching. Plus, it’s clear the audience loves him and his Guyver-era David Hayter-esque good looks. No, this isn’t even close to the awesomeness of the original, but it’s good, and it’s unique enough that it transcends being just a cover of a coach’s song.

Blake approves. Usher basically just tells Jake that he’s going to get compared to Adam and Justin Timberlake and that he hopes he makes it to the end. Shakira likes the cover when she didn’t expect to. But it’s Adam whose word matters the most here, and he notices the spin that Jake put on it, and he respects that. “I am so beyond proud of the short time we’ve been able to spend together working, because you’re a very talented guy,” he says. We agree.

Kat Perkins likewise swings for the fences with Journey’s classic “Open Arms,” which everybody knows. This is a song everyone is going to have an opinion about. Ours is that Kat is basically the amalgamation of Kat Robichaud and Jacquie Lee. She is definitely a rocker, but she also has pipes that could break something. (We would actually pay money to put her together on stage with Kat Robichaud, and not just because they share a name.) After her performance, there should be absolutely no way that Adam won’t keep her.

Usher calls it “flawless” and declares that Kat is “a sure thing.” Shakira describes the performance as “devoted.” Blake can’t even come up with a joke, which is saying something. Adam thinks this is “only the beginning” for Kat, stating emphatically that “Steve Perry does not screw around,” prompting laughter from the audience.

Morgan Wallen is in the fourth spot, and he’s wanting to go back to country after being stolen from Team Usher, with “Stay” by Florida Georgia Line. With Blake already concerned that Morgan might be “one-dimensional,” Morgan needs to come out and show everything he’s got in his arsenal. We’ve just seen from the dismissal of Patrick Thomson that a cool rasp isn’t enough to move forward.

Having heard that, Usher admits that maybe some of the choices that he made when he coached Morgan weren’t in Morgan’s best interest; you have to appreciate that candor from Usher. Blake compares him to Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots, which seems to make perfect sense, even though Blake can’t name Eddie Vedder. “I’m going to punch you in the face,” Adam quips. Shakira thinks Morgan has improved, and Adam likewise seems sold on Morgan as more than just untapped potential.

That means Christina Grimmie finishes out the night. She comes to us with Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up,” and Adam is trying to focus her a little bit. “Make a plan and stick to it,” he tells her. She seems to have gotten the memo, as she delivers a performance that’s fluid both vocally and in terms of performance (which isn’t easy; this song gets a bit wordy in places). With that, Christina sort of shuts the door on at least Morgan, not because he performed poorly but because she’s just captured a spot in the live shows, and that drops the odds for everybody else.

Blake once again cracks wise about Christina’s tiny stature before calling her the best singer on Adam’s team. Usher compares her to Celine Dion, which causes a momentary freakout, before making a joke about Blake making a joke about the size of Adam’s anatomy. Before the discussion turns R-rated, Shakira praises Christina’s performance as well before Adam tells her that he’s proud that she’s mastered what she wants to do. “Try to criticize something,” he dares the rest of the panel.

So who will Adam keep? Two-thirds of his roster should already be a lock, so it’s really down to just one open spot between three other folks. He selects Christina, Delvin and Kat, which is the best possible combination for Team Adam. Though we will always be curious about how Morgan would’ve developed, and we already miss Jake and his sweet sound.

The Voice finishes its pre-taped playoff phase with Team Usher tomorrow at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC, before moving into its live playoffs next Monday, April 20 at 8 PM ET/PT. We’re off tomorrow because we’ve got something else in the works, but we’ll see you a week from tonight as live shows begin!

(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

Tony Lucca Launches Kickstarter For New Album


One of the most talented musicians we’ve ever seen (who also happens to be one of the best people we’ve ever known, too) has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his new full-length studio album. Tony Lucca, who you probably know from being Team Adam’s finalist on Season 2 of The Voice, went live with his Kickstarter Wednesday morning.

If it succeeds, he’ll be the latest in a line of Voice alumni that have funded albums through the platform, including fellow Season 2 Team Adam members Pip and Katrina Parker.

Having been writing and recording pretty steadily since he left the reality TV world, Tony has put out two strong EPs over the last two years. His first, With The Whole World Watching, was under a deal with Voice coach Adam Levine’s 222 Records label and contained the single “Never Gonna Let You Go,” which he performed on the show last year. That partnership has amicably ended, and so Tony’s returning to his independent roots to release what will be his eighth studio album.

He also just released the acoustic EP Drawing Board on March 18, and – maintaining his status as one of the hardest-working men in music – is currently playing yet another tour, this one with Tyler Hilton. He previously embarked upon the ‘Keys, Strings and Band of Kings Tour’ with Brendan James and appearances by Season 1 Voice finalist Vicci Martinez, and he’s played plenty of solo shows across the country, too.

Tony never stops working hard to bring his fans the best music and live shows that he possibly can, so it’s kind of fitting that we now have the opportunity to give something back to him.

You can pledge to the Kickstarter effort by visiting bit.ly/LuccaKS. For more on Tony Lucca, check out his official website (tonylucca.com) and follow him on Twitter (@luccadoes).

(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

The Voice 2014 Tour Is Official Now

The Voice - Season 5

After weeks of vague commercials and speculation, we now have most of the details about the upcoming The Voice summer tour, which was officially unveiled today.

All three Season 5 finalists – winner Tessanne Chin (Team Adam), runner-up Jacquie Lee (Team Christina) and second runner-up Will Champlin (Team Adam) – will participate, as will Season 1 runner-up Dia Frampton (Team Blake).

A fifth alumni will be added to the tour next month “by America via social media,” specifics of which were not disclosed. (You’ll recall just yesterday we offered our suggestions at Fan Voice.)

After the three finalists from the currently airing Season 6 are named, those three artists will also join the tour. Season 6 is slated to end on May 20.

The 31-stop tour begins on June 21 and ends on August 2nd; tickets for all dates except the Indio, CA stop go on sale this Thursday at 10 AM local time via thevoice.com/tour. Here’s a list of all the stops and show dates that have been announced:


San Antonio, TX Majestic Theatre


Grand Prairie, TX Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie


Houston, TX Bayou Music Center


Tampa, FL David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts


Fort Lauderdale, FL Broward Center for the Performing Arts


Orlando, FL Bob Carr Performing Arts Center


Atlanta, GA Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre


Charlotte, NC Ovens Auditorium


Hershey, PA Hershey Theatre


Lowell, MA Lowell Memorial Auditorium


Atlantic City, NJ The Mark Etess Arena at Trump Taj Mahal


New York, NY Beacon Theatre


Baltimore, MD Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric


Toronto, ON Sony Centre for the Performing Arts


Niagara Falls, NY Seneca Niagara Events Center


Mashantucket, CT The Grand Theater at Foxwoods


Cleveland, OH Playhouse Square – State Theatre


Detroit, MI Masonic Temple Theatre


Chicago, IL Chicago Theatre


Minneapolis, MN Mystic Lake Casino Hotel


Milwaukee, WI Milwaukee Riverside Theater


St. Louis, MO Peabody Opera House


Denver, CO Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre


Phoenix, AZ Comerica Theatre


Las Vegas, NV The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino


Indio, CA* Fantasy Springs Resort Special Events Center


San Diego, CA San Diego Civic Theatre


Los Angeles, CA Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE


San Jose, CA City National Civic


Portland, OR Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall


Redmond, WA Marymoor Park

Die-hard fans of the show will know that this is the second time that a concert tour has been launched for the Emmy-winning reality competition. The Voice Live on Tour was a limited tour that played after Season 1 of the show, featuring that season’s finalists and semifinalists (including Dia Frampton). The tour was quietly dropped sometime between then and the conclusion of Season 2 with low ticket sales cited as the reason.

What do you think of a revived Voice tour? Will you go? Do you believe it’s fair to determine the one alumni spot via social media? Let us know your thoughts on the announcement in the comments.

(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

Episode Recap: Season 6 Playoffs, Part 1

The Voice - Season 4

We’re now in the home stretch: The Voice playoffs. On a Tuesday. And they’re not live yet. And you’re not voting yet, either. So this isn’t what you’re used to when you hear the word “playoffs” on this show, but it’s happening. How could we kick off the playoffs with only an hour-long show, you ask? Well, let’s find out.

Carson explains that now each of the artists will choose their own songs, starting with Team Blake. All five members will perform and then Blake will have to kick two of them off the show. We definitely wouldn’t want to be in Blake’s position tonight!

Audra McLaughlin starts the night with Martina McBride’s “Broken Wing.” Before she performs, we see her rehearsal with Blake; he advises her to ease off on the falsetto but also admits that he’s basically “nitpicking.” We’re going to do the same for a second; Holly Tucker performed this same song during the Season 4 live shows, and Audra is a strong singer but doesn’t have the same power in her voice that Holly did, nor does she have the same stage presence. That’s not to say that she does poorly – she especially finishes strong – but it’s hard not to compare her to the version that came before.

Usher (thankfully not wearing that ridiculous hat) calls the performance “effortless.” Shakira praises Audra’s effort. Adam quips, “Because I hate Blake so much, it’s hard to say positive things to his teammates.” Seriously though, he wants to see more performance from Audra. The ultimate decision on Audra’s fate, though, rests with Blake, who tells her that “You realize what this moment is. You swung for the fence; I really respect that.” Then he declares that he needs a drink.

Next up is Ryan Whyte Maloney, whose battle we just saw last night. Ryan’s chosen “Second Chance” by Shinedown, which we approve of. Blake thinks it’s a tough song and admits “I’m a little bit worried about him.” He advises him to get rest and be cautious because not everyone is taking the risk that Ryan is. (Which brings us to a thought: this phase must be interesting for Blake, knowing what all his artists are doing and technically having to coach them against each other.)

Ryan definitely brings the rock element to the show, and he holds out some pretty impressive notes; if there’s one criticism we have of his performance, it’s the fact that since he’s playing the guitar as well, he’s stuck behind a microphone stand, which is one of our pet peeves. But other than that, we’re really starting to like this guy.

Usher compares Ryan’s ability to hold out notes to Adam’s (which catches Adam by surprise) and says Ryan is “definitely moving in the right direction.” Shakira thinks Ryan is one of this season’s “biggest surprises.” Adam, still flustered by Usher, quips that he wants a “bro-vorce” before getting serious. “It seems like Ryan has the most incredible professional moments combined with still some rough edges,” he says. Blake agrees, declaring this performance Ryan’s best so far. Could Ryan pull out a surprise win on a team that’s once again predominantly country? Meanwhile, Blake quips that Ryan is what Adam would sound like “if he was a man.” Yeowch.

The middle spot in line belongs to the artist Blake stole at the end of yesterday’s episode, Madilyn Paige. She opts for “Clarity” by Zedd featuring Foxes, and that’s a really tall order, because everybody knows Season 4 runner-up Michelle Chamuel owned that song when she performed it – and Michelle had performing experience that we know Madilyn lacks. And honestly, that shows here. Her performance isn’t bad, but she doesn’t get the lyrics out with as much conviction as Michelle did, and she fails to enunciate completely in a few spots. She’s got a lot of work to do, but then again, she’s 16.

Carson goes first to Madilyn’s former coach, who calls it a “good job” and we’re a little surprised that he doesn’t mention Michelle. Shakira calls out some “pocket issues” but is ultimately satisfied. Adam says what we’d say here: “You’ve got to let it go.” He explains that she’s trying too hard to be perfect and there’s so much stillness because she’s trying to be perfect. And as for Blake, “I couldn’t be more confident and proud that I used my steal on you,” but afterward he also admits he doesn’t think that’s the best she could do.

Next up is Jake Worthington, who’s made such a name for himself since coming back to the show after his first failed audition. He’s country through and through, so it’s no surprise that he picks Jake Owen’s “Anywhere With You.” Blake wants to see more presence from him, and he sort of gets it. It’s a solid country performance, and we know Blake really prides himself on moving country talent forward, so maybe he’s in with a chance here, even as Jake is honest with Usher about the fact that he wasn’t perfect. Adam appreciates Jake’s candor and suggests that he was “jacked up on Mountain Dew.” References to Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby follow. Blake seems to think he’s got to choose between Jake and Audra, and that’ll be a tough decision.

If you’re doing the math, we’re now down to Sisaundra Lewis, who we feel pretty comfortable saying Blake will not get rid of. He seems to love her and the producers must, too, as they keep placing her in featured spots during the broadcasts. Sisaundra has chosen Billy Joel’s “New York State Of Mind,” also known as the track that Bryan Keith was unjustly eliminated on after he sung the heck out of it. Is anyone really surprised that Sisaundra takes this song to crazy levels? She’s sort of like this season’s Jacquie Lee in that sense – that she’s known for her power. And judging by the crowd reaction, there’s no way she’s going home, making the competition tighter for everyone else.

After Usher and Adam wonder how Sisaundra landed on Team Blake, and after all the coaches praise her thoroughly (with a little minor constructive criticism from Adam), it’s time to see which two artists have to pack their bags and which three will stay on board. After Jake gives the best speech ever given by a Voice contestant ever, Jlake selects Sisaundra (obviously), Audra, and Jake. Not necessarily how we would’ve played it, but pretty much how we expected Blake to, and now we know who he’s bringing to the live portion of the playoffs.

The Voice playoffs continue Monday at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC. If you missed it this morning, check out our fresh interview with Carson Daly.

(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

Carson Daly Dishes On Season 6

The Voice

Whenever we need an answer about The Voice, we can always go to Carson Daly. The show’s host – and one of its producers – has served as the link between the hit singing competition and its audience, explaining the various changes and listening to our questions and concerns. So when we found Carson at The Voice‘s red carpet Thursday, we welcomed the chance to ask him about the alterations in Season 6 and how the Emmy-winning series has evolved over the last three years.

First, about replacing the knockout rounds with a second set of battle rounds. “We loved it,” Carson told us. “I think it was a little simpler, a little cleaner. People understand what the battles are. The competitive factor of bringing two people together to sing one song, but to share it also, that dynamic of competing but sharing works well. So to have people advance, and then it’s like a playoff system. You get even better people in the second round of that. I think that was a smart thing to do.”

For those of you disappointed in the change eliminating the one part of the show where the competing artists get to choose their own songs, don’t lose hope. He told us that’s still a part of the process. “You’ll see that, yes,” he said. “[In the] playoffs, they do that.”

Making alterations has become a regular happening when it comes to The Voice; producers have shown that they are willing to introduce changes each season, and just as quickly discard those changes the following season. The result is a show that is ever-evolving, rather than its counterparts whose structures stay mostly the same. “I think we continue to just make small choices that reap benefits,” Carson reflected.

“Usher and Shakira are back, and they’re stronger in their chairs than they were [in] Season 4. We learn a little more about editing. More and more people who want to make good music finally have the courage to try out for the show. Every time we all get together to make a new season, it’s just a little bit better.”

What does he think has made this reality show rise to the top of a hugely competitive field? “We just felt like we had something different to offer,” he said. “And we attracted great talent right off the bat. When it was going away [in Season 3], we created the Steal. That was something that we tweaked. We always tweak the format a little bit to try and make it better.”

We also asked Carson about one of the biggest parts of his on-camera duties – working with the artists and their families, particularly during the blind auditions, where you can see him in the room with each contestant’s loved ones while they perform for the superstar coaches. He really does care about these folks, and so it’s not easy when someone doesn’t get a chair to turn around. “My heart breaks,” he told us, adding that “I want these people who come here to have a good experience. But equally, when someone gets a button, that’s why you see me [so excited].”

Carson’s not afraid to say that there have been instances where he disagrees with some of the biggest names in music. “I’ve said it on camera. They usually cut it out,” he revealed. “As a producer of this show, I’m in like the executive rooms where I know who’s been invited. And we try and put some of the best singers in front of our coaches. So I walk in knowing we’ve got a good group.

“And there are times in that two minutes [of their audition] where people clam up, get nervous and they don’t get a chair to turn. I know they had an off day. And I’m just like ‘Oh, man.’ And I’ll tell them, they come in the room and I’m like ‘You know what, honestly, I think they got it wrong.’ I don’t think the coaches always get it right. That’s part of the show.

“But,” he added with a smile, “those people come back.”

The Voice playoffs begin tonight at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC, with the live playoffs starting on Monday, April 21. For more on Carson, be sure you’re following him on Twitter (@CarsonDaly).

(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse, Examiner, and Fanbolt with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.