The Voice returned on Monday night with its first at-home playoffs in the show's history, and it wasa bit eerie to see Carson Daly and his skeleton crew in the otherwise emptied-out studio throughout the show. All four coaches and even an audience used video conferencing to watch the contestants' prerecorded performances, and though this was a new system for everyone involved, the night still mostly went smoothly -- in fact, there were some contestants who seemed to really thrive with this new normal.
The show started with mega mentor James Taylor leading the contestants in a virtual chorus of his highly relevant favorite "Shower the People." Daly then checked in with coaches Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, and Nick Jonas to hear how they've been coping with social distancing. Shelton flexed about getting a haircut from Gwen Stefani, Clarkson was feeling the burn of trying to work at home with kids, Legend lamented not being able to go to Italian restaurants, and Jonas, who had his very own red chair to boot, was just grateful for the first responders on the front lines of coronavirus response.
After that, the playoff performances got going, with some high stakes ahead for the contestants. Tuesday's eliminations will be vicious -- of the 17 hopefuls who participated, only nine will advance -- so they had to make this one really count if they hoped to continue. There were some advantages to recording at home, of course, as the pressures of a live audience were not in play during their recordings. At the same time, though, they didn't have the benefit of that energy or the accompanying stage stylings, not that it stopped some of night's stars from putting on a real show.
Below is a team-by-team review of the performances for The Voice's first-ever at-home playoffs. You can also check a behind-the-scenes video of the coaches breaking down their first virtual show in the video above.
Thunderstorm Artis ("Summertime"): Coach Nick likened this performance to that jaw-dropping blind audition piece, and this could've easily been confused for an in-studio showcase for how seamless it was. Thunderstorm's vocals and instrumentals were smooth as silk, and he sprinkled in some choice high notes and some whistling accompaniment that had his former coach John Legend admitting it was "mesmerizing."
Allegra Miles ("New York State of Mind"): We have to show some respect for her homemade twinkle light backdrop and her sultry low tones. This might not have been a perfect performance, but it was also very honest.
Arei Moon ("Finesse"): This was a performance that would ordinarily come with a bounty of production, but Arei managed to make the show her own, proving her imagination as an artist, and her voice was as solid as ever.
Roderick Chambers ("Lost Without You"): Even without any major frills, this soft groove was still on-point, with Roderick's falsetto skills on full display.
Michael Williams ("Sign of the Times"): Here's another example of an artist putting together a nice little living room showcase that lives up to what we're used to seeing at this stage. Michael's decadent crescendos matched well with these meaningful and, obviously, timely lyrics to create a goosebump-inducing musical moment.
Zan Fiskum ("Blowin' in the Wind"): Was that Zan or Billie Eilish delivering another couch performance? Her voice was just as haunting and romantic during this scale-bustin' ballad.
Mike Jerel ("All My Life"): There were definitely some choppy moments in this rendition, which was filmed on Mike's college campus, but there was also a lot of charm in the rugged moments here.
Mandi Castillo ("Corre!"): Mandi's tones were so rich and comforting. Her voice felt like a warm blanket that we could cozy up to for hours.
CammWess ("Ain't No Sunshine"): CammWess was clearly feeling this song, and despite the stripped-down production value of what looked to be his living room, his achy vocals were still completely enticing. John Legend in particular was impressed with his "honey butter" tones.
Megan Danielle ("Anyone"): No one can touch Demi Lovato's soul-crushing deliveries of this song, but Megan Danielle still earned some goosebumps with her emotional rendition of the instant tearjerker.
Mandi Thomas ("I Hope You Dance"): Mandi's performance was a little sharp, and although Kelly found a compliment for her vibe in the recording, this wasn't her best showcase.
Micah Iverson ("This Is Your Song"): This was a quaint, if a bit stretched-out, rendition of an old favorite. Was it enough to make it through such a tough elimination, though? TBD.
Cedrice ("Everything I Wanted"): Another contestant who has obviously invested in her Zoom background game was Cedrice, whose slinky performance of this feel-good number was flawless and fun.
Toneisha Harris ("What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger"): The coaches couldn't get enough of this electric and authentic rendition of a song that has more meaning for Toneisha Harris than most people. Even Kelly Clarkson offered to be a backup singer next time.
Joei Fulco ("Runaway"): Joei Fulco was clearly feeling herself as she leaned into her growl tones with this country rock rendition. Judging by the rad guitar wall she had as her personal space, she was clearly in her element at home.
Joanna Serenko ("Rich Girl"): You gotta love Joanna Serenko's bubble gum soul vocals. Her delivery here was as spirited and technically proficient as ever, even if it was something of an odd song choice for the moment.
Todd Tilghman ("Glory of Love"): The producers were smart to choose a heartswelling '80s power ballad as the closer because that's the energy we really need right about now. Todd Tilghman's performance was steady and well-suited to the song, even if some of the bigger notes were a bit of a stretch for him.
Who do you want to see make it through the next round?
The Voice's live eliminations air on Tuesday, May 5 at 8/7c.