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Some sparkle and some falter on Monday’s ‘The Voice’

Season 7 | Episode 16 | “Live Top 12 Performances” | Aired Nov 17, 2014

Congratulations! You made it to live rounds. Your reward for holding on through battles, knockouts and playoffs is a pat on the back and a puppy. Redeem your puppy via the new Voice app!

puppy gif

Now, this round should not be confused with live playoffs, which were live but not the actual, authentic LIVE ROUNDS. No sir. This round is different. Team lines have dissolved. The coaches no longer have a say, and the only salvation outside of voting is the controversial Instant Save (which is dominated by tween Twitter power users). It’s anyone’s game now.

Note: Carson announces that later this season, they’ll be debuting original songs for each of their artists. This could be wonderful. Or disastrous. I can’t wait.

Now let’s talk about tonight’s performances (in order of appearance):

Sugar Joans (Team Pharrell)
We open the night with Sugar, one of last week’s more pleasant surprises. Sugar has impressive pipes; there is no doubt about that. However, her voice can run a little shrill when she wails, and she relies too heavily on her growl at times (tasty vocal seasoning that shouldn’t be the main course). Sugar kept all of that in check last time around, but not as much with tonight’s “Take Me to the River.” She performs the hell out of it, but I can’t help but find it disappointing after last week’s trip to church.

Ryan Sill (Team Gwen)

Gwen assigns Ryan the early ’90s classic “Ordinary World,” a choice I find perplexing. Gwen expresses an interest in teaching Ryan to be more natural onstage, then gives him a song that seems unnatural for him on every level.


Ryan hits some crazy power notes that seem to redeem the performance, but this still feels like the wrong pairing of song and artist. He just seems uncomfortable and strained to me. The coaches, on the other hand, love it. Maybe I need a sip from Blake’s mystery cup to get on board?

blake GIF

Jessie Pitts (Team Blake)
Jessie opens “Don’t You Worry Child” acoustically, with a glowing white piano and a platinum head of hair. Her vocal is wispy and measured and starts out well, but the minute she steps out from behind the piano and starts amping up, her pitch begins slipping; it’s all over the place. It’s almost as if the anticipation of that transition threw her off? That’s a shame because I loved the opener, and I think she could have done the entire song from behind the piano and excelled at it.

Damien (Team Adam)
Adam assigns Damien “He’s Not Heavy, He’s My Brother,” a song that Damien relates to as the oldest of six siblings. And man oh man, this song is perfect for him. It’s a lung-buster with tons of heart, and Damien totally embodies it, singing like his life depends upon it and sending Adam (and the audience) into fits of happiness. I might have had the same reaction at home. Maybe.

Danica Shirey (Team Pharrell)

Danica’s song choice (“Creep”) initially concerns me. Because it’s Radiohead. And it’s iconic. And it could go really wrong really quickly. However, Danica’s Al Green–inspired take on it is genuinely interesting, giving her a chance to flex her interpretative muscles and show off that glorious voice. And trust me on this: Her voice is glorious. Gwen calls her a “freak of nature,” and I have to agree with that statement.

Note: Kudos to hair, makeup, and wardrobe for softening Danica’s look and getting it all completely in sync for the first time.

Taylor John Williams (Team Gwen)
Taylor covers “If,” and for some odd reason they decide to project butterflies behind him for the duration of the song. Between that and the squishy arrangement (true to the original), it feels like a hallucination right out of That ’70s Show. Taylor sounds lovely, but the whole thing is a little sluggish and disconnected. Between this and Ryan Sill, I just don’t understand Gwen’s song choices tonight.

Reagan James (Team Blake)

Let me start this by stating (again) that I’m confused by the show referring to Reagan as an R&B singer. Reagan works a lot of quirky indie magic, but she is by no means an R&B singer (even if she identifies herself as such). Tonight’s song choice (“It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over”) further demonstrates this genre confusion. It’s not exactly an R&B song, but it is going for a throwback soul kind of feel that falls flat in this context. To commit to the song, Reagan has to iron out all the interesting wrinkles in her voice—the charming wild cards that make her so intriguing. And that dims her sparkle a bit. Until she (and her coach) truly understand her many strengths and capitalize on them properly, Reagan won’t fully realize her potential.

Luke Wade (Team Pharrell)

Luke’s “Thinking Out Loud” is more low-key than his usual fare, but I like the idea of giving his voice a more modern frame of reference. Unfortunately, the opening falters due to some technical difficulties, and Luke seems to have a hard time bouncing back from that. He settles in more once he steps out from behind the guitar and sounds gorgeous (as always), but this is definitely an off night thanks to the joy and pain of live TV.

Matt McAndrew (Team Adam)

Adam assigns Matt “Take Me to Church” in the midst of bonding over their shared love of the tattoo (so touching!). Matt hits all the right marks, with a delicate start that builds to a fiery climax and ends with Matt on his knees. It’s ballsy and pretty great. My only quibble would be that it loses some of its power when he veers into scream-y territory that doesn’t do the song (or Matt) justice.

Craig Wayne Boyd (Team Blake)

“You Look So Good in Love” is a smart choice for Craig, because this is one for the LADIES. It’s a tender ballad that allows him to show off his softer side (and his glam country makeover) to good effect. While the vocal is not technically perfect, it works, because of the LADIES. They are eating it up in the audience, and I imagine they’re eating it up at home. Like a big bowl of country ice cream.

Chris Jamison (Team Adam)

Adam attempts to create a breakout moment for Chris with this week’s “Jealous” by Nick Jonas, and he succeeds fairly well. Chris’ performance is at ease and “effortless” (to steal Pharrell’s description)—head and shoulders above previous weeks. Chris nails the vocal from start to finish, and wears his snazzy new suit with the confidence it deserves.

Note: I had to google Nick Jonas to figure out which Jonas brother we’re talking about here (the married one, the half-naked one, or the other guy). Well, folks, he’s the half-naked one. You feel kind of dirty now, don’t you? I know I do.

Anita Antionette (Team Gwen)
Our final song tonight is Anita’s “Redemption Song,” a distinct departure from her more upbeat material the last two rounds. While the vocal isn’t as sublime as her emotional, bittersweet performance, the performance itself elevates it to something more than the sum of its parts. This is the power of Anita. She can speak-sing her way through a song on a show called The Voice and still be the most compelling person there.

Who got your votes this week? Are there any favorites you’re worried about after seeing Monday’s performances? Let me know, and I’ll see you back here after next Monday’s episode of The Voice.

Adam GIF
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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