'The Voice' recap: Playoff fever

Audra McLaughlin. (Courtesy NBC)

Audra McLaughlin. (Courtesy NBC)

Jason MacNeil, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:33 PM ET

Days before the basketball and hockey playoffs, The Voice kicked off its playoff season Tuesday night with Blake Shelton having some extremely arduous decisions to make.

With the coach forced to remove two singers from his stable of five, Shelton heard country singer Audra McLaughlin set the bar quite high by nailing Martina McBride's A Broken Wing. The tune's slow buildup perfectly while holding onto a few notes with a steadiness and power that would be tough to beat. Usher loved her “effortless voice” while Shakira deemed her talent as “really potent.” Levine agreed, describing McLaughlin as an “unleashed beast” at times.

After praising McLaughlin for swinging for the fences, Shelton then saw another very strong effort from Ryan Whyte Maloney. Maloney tore through Shinedown's Second Chance with a precision and professionalism everybody noticed. The singer also worked the stage quite well as if he'd been a showman for some time.

As for the judges, they too loved Maloney although Shakira said he was good but not great at times. Levine loved the polish the singer brought to the stage but said there was still some rough edges. Shelton knew he was in for a hard night after two above average renditions, stating he was “overwhelmed.”

The first performer who seemed to be closer to going home than carrying on was Madilyn Paige. Paige went with the song Clarity by Zedd featuring Foxes, a tune that was delivered well but lacked any sizzle. Shelton urged such passion in the rehearsal and Levine also found a “stillness” in Paige's song. While the judges generally were kind, one sensed Paige would be one of the two leaving.

Country talent Jake Worthington, a season five contestant, strongly worked the stage and crowd during Jake Owen's Anywhere With You. It was almost too much at times, glad-handing although not quite concentrating on the song. Shelton's desire to have Worthington show more presence on the stage was executed from start to finish. Shakira “loved” it and thought Worthington was “a star.” Usher then asked him to critique himself which he did with some humor.

The final performer almost guaranteed to remain was Sisaundra Lewis. The singer covered Billy Joel's New York State Of Mind, taking it almost into a jazzy realm before she broke out and let it rip. Dripping with confidence, Lewis proved she was ready for the big time. “Are you aware of the voice that you have?” Shakira asked after Usher was left shaking his head at her voice.

With the five of them on the stage, Shelton said it was the toughest decision he had to make during his years on The Voice. Shelton selected Sisaundra Lewis first and then Audra McLaughlin. After Maloney, Paige and Worthington gave thanks to their coach, Shelton then picked Worthington to round out his top three.


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