Team Adam and Team Blake artists compete as the Top 20 will be narrowed to 12 this week

By Andrea Billups
Updated November 11, 2014 08:30 AM
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Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank;

Artists from Adam Levine and Blake Shelton‘s teams stepped up Monday to wow the audience on The Voice‘s first night of live playoffs.

Two previous standouts – passionate soul singer Damien and charismatic Southern rocker Craig Wayne Boyd – showed again why they’re competitors to watch, as the show narrows its field this week from 20 to 12 and viewers can vote for the first time.

Team Adam’s Damien, a Louisiana native and TSA agent, crooned Sam Smith’s “I’m Not the Only One,” showing off mad vocal range and some church-revival fervor as he got inside the song’s lyrics of want and betrayal.

His seemingly effortless range was so compelling that it left coach Pharrell Williams shaking his head and rising to his feet in approval, as the crowd refused to stop cheering.

Gwen Stefani felt the power of the performance, too. “I just think that you have some truth in you that is just speaking to everyone,” she told him. “This audience in here was the loudest they have been all night. You are amazing. I feel so blessed to just sit here and watch that right now.”

If that was a tough act to follow, Boyd didn’t mind. The Team Blake singer looked very much like a mature star as he closed the show with a rocking and playful performance of Grand Funk Railroad’s “Some Kind of Wonderful.”

He prowled the stage completely at ease, the ’70s rock-and-blues vibe well suited to his style. “You don’t just sing a song, you attack it. Then you beat it up, and you eat it,” joked Shelton, who was fired up about Boyd even in rehearsals. “God dang, that guy can sing!”

Others sensed Boyd coming into his own and using his experience as an artist who spent a decade in Nashville trying to get noticed. “I told you from the very first time you came up here, ‘Dude, you have your own vibe,’ ” Williams said. “Stay on your own path. I’m so enthused that you are still on the show. Keep going.”

Team Blake artist Reagan James, a Texas native who’s just 15, also claimed the spotlight Monday with a haunting and effortless performance of Colbie Caillat’s “Try.”

Her ethereal vocal, maturity, artful guitar playing and commanding stage presence captured the coaches’ attention, as her youthful star power shone bright.

“I thought it was just beautiful the way you just floated across the stage,” Williams told James, who turns 16 this week. Added Stefani: “I loved those lyrics for you. That could have easily been your song.”

Team Adam artist Matt McAndrew took a giant risk by singing the Beach Boys classic “God Only Knows,” but his performance was at once silky, smooth and dreamy – a perfect indie version that he made his own.

Even Levine’s nemesis, Shelton, was blown away. “That was sung perfectly,” he said. “I can’t say enough about it. What an interesting and different and great song choice.”

Stefani was equally transfixed. “I was really moved to almost tears,” she told McAndrew. “You have so much personality oozing out of you, and uniqueness, and that is what makes people want to watch you.”

Levine praised McAndrew’s originality on such an “elegant” song. “You’re fearless, you’re unique, you’re sincere, and you’re genuine, and there’s nobody like you. I get goose bumps when I hear you sing,” Levine said.

The Voice returns for more live playoff action at 8 p.m. Tuesday when artists from Team Gwen and Team Pharrell compete. Twelve finalists – eight picked by viewers and four by the coaches – will be announced Wednesday.

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