Dearly beloved, we are gathered to commiserate as Indy’s Great Hope, Josh Kaufman, seeks to take it up a notch on tonight’s live two-hour episode of The Voice on NBC. We, music mavens James Layne and Jonathan Scott, are happy to serve as your online hosts of sorts. Feel free to tweet us @JamesIvanLayne and @jonscott81 during the show, or send a line to @IndyMonthly with thoughts and such. We’ll gladly answer questions, and about coaches Usher, Shakira, Blake Shelton, and Adam Levine (of Adam Levine and the Maroon 4).
First, see James’s take on Kaufman’s four main challengers on the show.
And here we go …
10:04 p.m. James: Overall, Christina and Sisaundra owned the night. And I’d say Audra and Delvin were right behind them. Josh will need to pick a rockin’, powerful song next week! We’ll “see” you then here on the live-blog.
10:03 p.m. Jon: Time for final thoughts. Jake and Tess should get the boot. Sisaundra benefits from going last, hardly needed it.
10:02 p.m. James: Okay, Indianapolis: Time to vote! Go vote for Josh. 1-855-864-2304.
10:01 p.m. James: Nobody can reach that high. That was crazy.
10 p.m. Jon: Note how they skipped Shakira, didn’t even have her give Sisaundra comments. They’re out of time, mercifully.
9:58 p.m. Jon: Like a boss. Sisaundra does it again. Usher says her risk “was worth it.” Adam Levine says, “Everyone look up. See, there used to be a roof in here.” Seriously, that last note.
9:57 p.m. James: Here we go. I can feel the pressure of her pipes building.
9:55 p.m. James: Everybody better hold on for Sisaundra! She’s got that soaring sound.
9:50 p.m. James: Hmm. Not surprising, though, coming from her [Shakira].
9:49 p.m. Jon: Shakira tells Kristen Merlin that she “represents the minorities in this country,” tiptoeing around what everyone’s not talking about. I guess this isn’t American Idol. We don’t go that in depth with singers’ lives.
9:48 p.m. Jon: She’s so charming.
9:47 p.m. James: Kristen is subtle but solid. She doesn’t really have a strong presence, but her voice is always great. She will move on, for sure.
9:47 p.m. Jon: I like Kristen Merlin. I mean, a country singer from Massachusetts. And that was a lovely performance.
9:45 p.m. Jon: Yeah, I feel like Delvin even got the best stage production—camera angles and light show—of all the performers tonight. Not that he needed it.
9:44 p.m. James: Kristen Merlin and Sisaundra Lewis to close out this episode. Gonna be hard to keep the energy up after Delvin’s energetic, church-like rival anthem.
9:37 p.m. Jon: Blake Shelton: “Delvin, you just have such power and passion and other words that start with ‘P.'” Awkward. And Usher salutes Delvin’s gospel factor, cloaked in every performance he gives.
9:35 p.m. Jon: Well, the ending was kind of abrupt. … Oh wait. He’s not quite done. Carson Daly was faked out, too.
9:33 p.m. Jon: “Turn it up!” Delvin Choice yells at the end of his recorded lead-in segment, in his best from-the-gut voice. Sounded like Lil Jon to me.
9:32 p.m. James: I wonder how many times Adam will remind us of this tonight.
9:31 p.m. Jon: I find it laughable that Graham Nash from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young once sort of mentored Adam Levine.
9:29 p.m. Jon: Aye, bad for Tess that she wasn’t memorable and went early tonight. It’s like going on early in Olympic figure skating. Ouch.
9:28 p.m. James: I still think Bria will move on. Bottom two are still Jake and Tess. And Delvin and Kristen Merlin are yet to go on.
9:26 p.m. Jon: A tear forms on the inside of Bria’s eye. She may have a fatalistic thought that she’s going home tomorrow night. Maybe just whelmed by the moment.
9:25 p.m. James: Finally! Adam gives an honest critique.
9:25 p.m. Jon: Adam Levine with the first true criticism of the night, and it only took us 84 minutes into this 120-minute episode.
9:24 p.m. James: I’m confused by the blues attempt on an Avril Lavigne song.
9:23 p.m. Jon: I feel like she just gave “I’m With You” by Avril Lavigne some old-lady rock treatment, in the best way. As a high-school senior. Wow.
9:22 p.m. James: She has to kill the chorus.
9:21 p.m. James and Jon (jinx): I want to like this.
9:18 p.m. Jon: These bits about Blake and Adam giving each other’s cell-phone digits out on Twitter are just sigh-inducingly lame. Reminds me of the old SNL sketch with Jimmy Fallon: “Hello, I’m Carson Daly, and I’m a massive tool.” Bria will save us!
9:14 p.m. Jon: Okay, should be back to good with Bria Kelly, and Delvin Choice “singing the blues.” Brace thyselves.
9:13 p.m. James: You know it’s rough when the coaches don’t comment on your vocal performance, except for your coach who feels obligated.
9:12 p.m. Jon: Right? And she’s this show’s closest thing to Paula Abdul.
9:12 p.m. James: Even Shakira is shocked he’s still there. Ha.
9:11 p.m. Jon: Yep. It seems Josh Kaufman’s “This Is It” was dedicated to him ahead of time.
9:09 p.m. James: I feel sorry for Jake. He started off-key, but he’s so genuine that I want to root for him. This looks to be it for him tonight.
9:07 p.m. Jon: Poor good-natured country boy. He’s singing George Straight. I don’t doubt the country-music fan presence in the voting public, but there are country girls singing in this competition. He’s toast. And that first verse was just bad.
9:04 p.m. James: I can’t get over Christina’s Drake cover. To take that song and rearrange it and go that well with it at 20 years old … that was special.
9:02 p.m. Jon: Next Jake Worthington sings some country goodness. Can’t think he has a chance anymore on the show. Good run. And Bria Kelly will sing Avril Lavigne, surely better than Avril (translation: April) sings it.
8:59 p.m. James: Christina’s demographic will eat that cover up, too. Guarantee she’s in the Top 10 on iTunes this week.
8:58 p.m. Jon: Okay, well, to riff on Shakira’s remark … she’s not going anywhere. That’s the highest peaking performance so far tonight.
8:56 p.m. James: Christina with a crazy song choice in Drake’s track. It’s nothing new for her as she’s covered all genres on her YouTube channel for years. Also, never in my life thought I’d hear [guest coach] Graham Nash talking about Drake.
8:54 p.m. Jon: Christina reminds me of Anna Kendrick’s look so much, it hurts. But I love Anna Kendrick. And she’s doing “Hold On, We’re Going Home” from Drake’s catalog. Damn. Piano? She could slay this.
8:52 p.m. Jon: Next, Christina Grimmie takes on a Drake song. So apparently she is giving up the ghost about winning this thing?
8:50 p.m. James: I agree with Usher. Josh controls his falsetto like an absolute professional.
8:49 p.m. Jon: High praise from Usher, who applauds Josh’s knack for accurate singing, “manly” falsetto.
8:48 p.m. James: He sort of seemed a little lost in the beginning, but his unique voice prevailed again.
8:47 p.m. Jon: Shakira tells Josh, to the surprise of No One on the Planet, “I think that these soulful renditions might be your sweet spot.”
8:46 p.m. Jon: Apropos of his singing, which is impeccable, he’s pressing flesh with outstretched fan hands in the front and looking like a star in his cuffed denim and sockless wingtips, replete with fedora.
8:45 p.m. Jon: Can we just talk about how Usher is doing a great job with Josh? Yes.
8:44 p.m. Jon: So it’s Kenny Loggins’s “This Is It.” And, well, this is it. (But not in a Michael Jackson kind of way.)
8:43 p.m. Jon: I hope they soon find something else to say about him besides “the soulful family man from Indianapolis” …
8:42 p.m. James: Hopefully he slays “Danger Zone.” That would be awesome.
8:38 p.m. Jon: Josh Kaufman is up next. And he’s tackling a Kenny Loggins song. Oh boy. (“Playing With the Boys”?)
8:36 p.m. Jon: Shakira tells Audra, “You’re not going anywhere. No.” She often dabbles in platitudes, but she’s right.
8:35 p.m. James: Audra is the darkhorse in this contest. No doubt about it with this take on Reba.
8:34 p.m. Jon: Meanwhile, back where actual music is played and sung, Audra McLaughlin is destroying everyone else who performed so far tonight, with a Reba cover of all things.
8:33 p.m. James: That banter about the phone was wow-inducing.
8:31 p.m. Jon: This side bit about Blake giving away Adam’s cell-phone number on Twitter is just … tiresome. Shut up and (let them) sing.
8:30 p.m. James: I hope at least one of the coaches gives an honest thought on a performance tonight. The typical praise gets old. (I’m looking at you, Shakira.) I miss Simon Cowell sometimes.
8:27 p.m. Jon: Okay, Audra McLaughlin is on singing Reba next, and then Josh Kaufman will perform. He looks trim and well styled in some red- or salmon-colored threads. Good job, backstage team.
8:26 p.m. Jon: Now Blake and Adam are talking about “pooch” while everyone stands by. New low point on TV singing shows.
8:25 p.m. Jon: Yeah, the “sass” (as Blake Shelton calls it) felt forced.
8:24 p.m. James: Good song choice for Tess, but still rather bland delivery.
8:22 p.m. Jon: But teen girls are probably who votes most on these shows, so she’s probably doing that right.
8:21 p.m. Jon: I just don’t see this Paramore song being memorable for Tess Boyer. Sorry, but who truly likes Paramore? I saw them open for No Doubt once. Wait, no. I didn’t. I skipped the opening act.
8:17 p.m. Jon: So, two female competitors coming up—Tess Boyer and Audra McLaughlin—will tackle the songs of Paramore and Reba McEntire, Carson Daly tells us. Kaufman’s chances are looking better and better to me.
8:13 p.m. Jon: Usher calls Kat’s “Landslide” performance “pleasant.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Not sure this is going to help her cause. At all.
8:11 p.m. Jon: Well, she gave it some TLC. ‘Til she didn’t. It was all right.
8:09 p.m. James: Interesting that Kat and her powerhouse voice will try to tackle a sweet and soft Stevie Nicks song, a classic.
8:00 p.m. James: Let’s take this opportunity to wonder aloud as to whether Usher will make Kaufman do anything crazy pre-performance, like staring at himself singing in a mirror or running all around the stage (to keep in mind that the audience is all around).
8:01 p.m. Jon: Kat Perkins from Team Adam (Levine) is going first, right after this thoroughly pleasing U.K. boy band plays a ditty. (Not a misnomer. It’s a real band, Rixton. They play instruments!)
More info about the artists at The Voice on NBC.com.