'The Voice' live blog: The Top 12 take the stage

the-voice-top-12-live-blog-nbc.jpgWith the Season 5 live playoffs of "The Voice" behind us, it's time for the true competition begin. The Top 12 are prepping to take the stage to find for America's vote, with coaches Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and CeeLo Green only able to sit back and hope one of their artists can bring home the trophy for their team. Who will perform well enough to advance to the Top 10? Let's find out!

First up is Team CeeLo's Caroline Pennell. CeeLo's having the cutie sing Avicii's "Wake Me Up" this week. The coach things she's the one to beat, which may be a stretch, but she's certainly a strong contender.

Caroline's youth matches the lyrical content of the song perfectly, and her voice seems to be growing stronger as each week passes. It's an adorable performance, certainly setting the night off on a good foot.

Side note: WTF is CeeLo wearing? Like, seriously?

Blake's happy to see Caroline take on something with higher energy and a quicker tempo, with Adam echoing the praise or her energy. Christina doesn't get to speak. Poor Christina.

And we're back from the break with Team Christina's Josh Logan. Josh only made it through to the Top 12 by the skin of his teeth (and his coach's save), so Christina knows he needs to step it up. Her grand plan? Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror." It's a risky proposition. There are certain artists that are difficult to take on and improve upon. MJ is one of them.

His performance, however, is a success. The feel is the song is changed up just enough to take it away from direct MJ comparisons. There's a rootsy, soulful feel to Josh's take on the song. It sounds pretty great. Adam loved it, while CeeLo admits Josh continues to impress him. It's a much warmer reception than last week's. Blake says if he had done something like this last week, he wouldn't have needed Christina's save. Will America respond in kind? We'll see.

Matt Lauer is here to talk about beards and how big the studio is. Host Carson Daly mentions that facial hair is a phenomenon. Sure, Carson.

Up next is Team Adam's Josh Wolpert. After last week's acoustic performance, Adam's having Josh amp up the energy with The Killers' "Mr. Brightside." There's such a connection to the emotion of the song during James' performance. He's all over the stage, while still keeping rather precise with his pitch. It's a fun performance.

Adam calls it the most "dynamic, yet controlled, blistering performance," saying James just "turned into a rock star before our very eyes." Christina praises James's growth and Adam's coaching, while CeeLo celebrates James' staging.

Time for Team Blake's Austin Jenckes to take the stage. Blake's goal this week is to prove that Austin has the potential for country crossover success. He's going to be singing "It's A Great Day To Be Alive" by Travis Tritt. How surprising -- Blake wants an artist of his to sing country?

Here's the the thing about Austin. He's great. Every performance is dependably solid, but it's hard to remember anything he's done once he's left the stage. At this stage, he hasn't had one of those moments that an artist on "The Voice" needs elevate themselves. This isn't to say he doesn't sound great tonight. He does -- it's a great performance. It's just not very exciting.

Blake says he's not trying to steer Austin country, but just wants to prove he can do country. Not sure I'm buying that, but whatever. CeeLo loves the twang he brought to the song, while Adam praises the huge night Austin hit at the end. Christina says "it just felt good." And it did. It just didn't start any sort of fire.

Up next, it's Team Christina's Jacquie Lee, who blew everyone away last week. Can she live up to the expectations she's set for herself? This week, Christina wants her to do something new and current, giving her Jack White's version of "Love is Blindness" from "The Great Gatsby" soundtrack.

Following her coach's direction to get a little dark, Jacquie gets real on stage. Like, really real. It's astounding. For a girl of only 16, her ability to tap into an emotion that feels so truly adult is mind-boggling. She didn't fail to meet those expectations. Not in the slightest.

Adam says that when Jacquie opens up, she does so in such a way that she has everything someone needs to win. CeeLo says he forgets to think when she's singing, he gets so lost in it. He'd also like to play her version the next time he goes horseback riding. Uh, okay.

With the unfortunate luck to have to follow that, it's Team Blake's Ray Boudreaux. Ray was Blake's one save last week, tasked to sing John Legend's "All of Me." He's worried about connecting with the emotion, but Blake tells him he's going to ruin women's lives with his performance.

It's a perfectly serviceable performance. He sounds good, sure, but there's nothing super thrilling about it. It's hard to nitpick the technical aspect, but there's just something a bit lacking, personality-wise.  Ray is pretty much this season's bland pretty guy who'll make it further because of his face.

Team CeeLo's Kat Robichaud is up next. Worried about how America' wasn't into her softer moment last week, she's taking on AWOLNATION's "Sail" this week. Here's the thing about this song: The chorus just says "Sail" over and over. It's not exactly the sort of thing that lends itself to a major "Voice"-style performance. She's forced to vamp up the attitude because the lyrics don't offer much. Singing while crowdsurfing was pretty cool, though.

CeeLo goes insane during his critique, mostly just praising the song and not her performance. "Kat came to play today," Christina says, while Blake raves about the crowdsurfing. Adam just says he feels like Mister Rogers. No one hits out at the song choice. Bleh.

It's another Team CeeLo artist up next, as Jonny Gray's set to take the stage. CeeLo says it's time for Jonny to show his versatility this week, giving him Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise." Leading up to this, Jonny's voice has seemed rather limiting, not always matching the material chosen for him. This week, however, the song fit his vocal ability better than ever before.

CeeLo rants about how we need these songs as nourishment, which, whatever CeeLo. Adam lauds Jonny's ability to overcome the wonky timing issues caused by some technical hiccups at the onset. The show much be running behind because no one else gets to speak.

Team Adam's Tessanne Chin is up next. Adam gives her "My Kind of Love" by Emeli Sande to amp up the energy this week. I already have shivers after that rehearsal footage. The performance is phenomenal. Was there every any doubt?

Adam says that the way Tessanne always comes out and is consistently powerful blows him away. Christina offers some praise that feels a bit like she doesn't want to like it. Her words are positive, but the way she presents them is weirdly down. Mixed signals, Xtina.

Up next, it's Team Christina's Matthew Schuler, who Carson says will be paying tribute to his gospel roots. Christina gives him Jeff Buckley's (or Leonard Cohen's) "Hallelujah," which might be the most overplayed song in reality TV history. But it's overplayed for a reason. If it's done right, it's one of the most powerful songs there is. And Matthew does it right. He plays with his falsetto in just the right way, he doesn't oversing on every note, he proves why this song still gets sung.

Blake tells Christina that Matthew has once again become the frontrunner on her team. Adam, who's magically changed clothes, says that, while he's generally apprehensive when he sees someone's taking the song on, the singer won him over.

It's time for Team Blake's Cole Vosbury, who's going to put his unique stamp on Miguel's "Adorn," because Blake wants him to show America that he can take on the unexpected. It's a pleasant surprise onstage, to be honest. His voice just slips into that song so perfectly. It may be jarring to see a long-lost "Duck Dynasty" brother sing Miguel, but it works so, so well. Nice song choice, Blake.

And finally, Team Adam's Will Champlin is ready to sing for his supper. Adam mentions that Will still has the chance to connect with the audience because the hype around him hasn't reached a fever pitch yet. He's taking on Imagine Dragons' "Demons," on which Adam warns him he needs to pay strict attention to his breathing. He still has some breathing issues during his performance, especially on that high note key change at the end, but this could be the moment he was looking for.

Adam says you can feel Will's passion for music in the performance, adding that that's the sort of artist he wants on his team. No one else gets to speak because we've run out of time.

That's a wrap, folks. Did your favorite rise to the occasion? Or did they flounder? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Photo/Video credit: NBC
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