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Perplexing song choices plus a few standout moments on Tuesday’s ‘The Voice’

Season 7 | Episode 15 | “The Live Playoffs, Night 2” | Aired Nov 11, 2014

It’s night two of live playoffs here on The Voice. On Monday we focused on Team Blake and Team Adam, both of which set the bar fairly high. Tonight we’ll see what Team Pharrell and Team Gwen have to offer. Now pull up a comfy chair, grab a hot cocoa, and let’s chat about the latest episode of The Voice.

If you need a refresher on how live playoffs work, check out last night’s recap.

Our first performance is Pharrell’s “Hunter.” The staging involves large rocks (maybe an alien planet?) and ladies in leotards strutting around Pharrell to the point of distraction (some very pretty aliens?). There’s also a choir in sunglasses and white robes, but they don’t appear to be singing (choir aliens?). Okay, in total honestly, I have no idea what’s happening right now.

The Voice - Season 7

Note: Forget my alien theories. Looking at the above picture, this whole thing looks like an America’s Next Top Model challenge.

Here are my thought’s on tonight’s performances (in order of appearance):

Ryan Sill (Team Gwen)
Ryan opens the night with the upbeat, inspirational “I Live.” He sounds good in rehearsals, and Gwen also works with him to improve the physicality of his performance. While this isn’t the most exciting song choice, Ryan’s pitch and precision are on point, and you can definitely see a difference in his level of confidence onstage. That kind of growth is essential at this point in the competition.

Jean Kelley (Team Pharrell)
Pharrell assigns Jean “Piano in the Dark.” I absolutely love this song (seriously—go listen to the original, and try NOT to sing it in the shower all week). However, I’m not convinced this is the right choice for Jean. She looks gorgeous, but she’s clearly uncomfortable with the song, and no amount of the over-emoting and dramatics she employed during knockouts can overcome that discomfort. (It just further reinforces the “believability” issue Gwen mentions.) I have to question Pharrell’s judgement just a little here. Yes, you should challenge your contestants (of course!), but don’t give them something so out of their comfort zone that they can’t truly get a handle on it.

Elyjuh Rene (Team Pharrell)
We open Elyjuh’s segment with a counseling session courtesy of Pharrell (the doctor is IN, y’all!). Clearly Pharrell’s guidance works, because Elyjuh’s “Latch” is toned down, totally connected, and technically impressive, one of the best performances tonight. It’s the ideal showcase for his ridiculously pliable voice, earning standing ovations from three out of four coaches. (This almost makes up for Pharrell’s prior misstep with Jean. Almost!)

Note: Is Blake dipping into some extra sauce tonight? He seems genuinely surprised every time Carson asks him for an opinion. I’m not entirely sure he knows where he is at any given moment.

blake GIF

Bryana Salaz (Team Gwen)
Gwen assigns Bryana “Amnesia.” Rearranged to be more of a ballad, this song inadvertently reads a little stiff and musical theater–esque, but Bryana overcomes that to deliver a sincere, genuine performance. And what it lacks in vocal ease or musicality, it makes up for in emotion and effort. Let’s not forget she’s only 16 years old, y’all. She’s winning at life just by being here.

Luke Wade (Team Pharrell)
“Let’s Get It On” seems like an odd choice for Luke at this point, but hot damn: It works, doesn’t it? Luke has already demonstrated he has one of the most unique male voices in the competition, so we all know he can sing. But this performance gives Luke the much-needed opportunity to be a badass onstage and demonstrate his ability to really sell a song. He sells it so well that Blake claims there were people inspired to “get it on” in the audience. Okay, then. Stellar job on that, Luke.

Anita Antoinette (Team Gwen)
I can’t help but get nervous when Gwen assigns Anita “All About That Bass.” It’s a rapid-fire lyric that gives Anita very little room to show off that lovely voice and demonstrate the signature vocal style we’ve come to know and love. However, the performance itself? It’s magnetic. Anita is a joy to watch onstage week after week, and tonight is no exception (it actually goes above and beyond what we’ve seen up to this point, turning the charisma up a few notches). Now Gwen just needs to work on finding Anita songs that encourage these types of performances, but also showcase her voice more effectively. That will be a winning combination.

Danica Shirey (Team Pharrell)
I adore Joni Mitchell, and I also adore Danica, but I just can’t get on board with this particular pairing of song to contestant. Danica’s “Help Me” is like a master class in singing (as always), with a vocal that’s consistently flawless, but the arrangement ultimately makes the song (and Danica) sound dated. That’s a disservice to them both, and another perplexing misstep for Pharrell in terms of song choices tonight.

Sugar Joans (Team Pharrell)
I was prepared to be disappointed by Sugar’s “Say a Little Prayer for You,” not because I don’t believe in her (I think she’s criminally underrated by the coaches), but because Team Pharrell’s song choices have been so hit-or-miss for me. However, Sugar defies the odds, taking this staple of wedding singers everywhere, wrestling it to the ground, and breathing new life into it (“[taking] us to church,” per Adam). I hate to agree with Blake and his mystery cup on anything, but this may have been the best performance so far tonight.

Ricky Manning (Team Gwen)
Ricky’s “Lay Me Down” starts a little behind the beat, but once he settles in, it’s pretty solid. It’s nowhere near as compelling as last round’s plaintive “Wrecking Ball,” but Ricky still delivers a grounded, believable performance that shows how much he’s improved since the beginning of this competition.

Taylor John Williams (Team Gwen)
Our final performance tonight is Taylor’s “Stuck in the Middle with You.” He decides to make it less danceable and more “swampy,” and it works, y’all. It works really, really well. It’s simple, relaxed, and true to who Taylor is an artist. Most important, it sounds fantastic. This is one of my favorite performances tonight.


Who got your votes this week, and how did you think tonight’s performances measured up to Monday’s strong showing? Which team do you think showed the most overall potential? Leave me your thoughts, and I’ll see you back here after the next episode of The Voice.

The Voice
 airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7C on NBC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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