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Blake And Gwen, Sitting In A Tree

O-N L-I-V-E T-V.

Welcome to the Lives! Everything's much more exciting now. Like, have you guys heard the big news about Gwen? Her Harajuku Lovers for Petco line has finally been released! As someone with two dog nieces on their Christmas list, I for one am tres excited about the pink doughnut squeak toy (What, did you think I was talking about something else? I'm already on the record as being a big fan of this rebound).

Feeding off of America's attention, Carson finally breaks his mysterious silence, gifting the coaches with a chance to each bring back a single, previously eliminated performer, turning the Top 20 into the Top 24…except half of them will be gone by the end of Wednesday's show anyway. Teams Gwen and Adam come out to play, raising the bar with some seriously, surprisingly good performances. It's almost like these people actually deserve to be here!

Here's how everything Rankles:

  1. Ellie Lawrence

    Ellie's performance sort of feels like watching Hayley from Paramore at karaoke, so I'm not exactly sure why we keep expecting original things from people with blue hair. Her natural rasp does suit the song, but it's just all been done before.

    Song: "Ex's And Oh's"
    Team: Gwen

  2. Regina Love

    Regina's a bold lady -- and you don't make it in the music business for as long as she has without taking some risks -- but choosing "Hello" is a big mistake. It's not that her version is bad (it's not, really), it's that the song is so fresh that it immediately invites the comparison to the original. Sometimes, you just need to know when to bow down.

    Song: "Hello"
    Team: Gwen

  3. Korin Bukowski

    I love Gwen and I love Korin, but some makeovers just shouldn't happen, you know? It's like when Cher made over Tai, except Tai was perfectly imperfect in her flannels already; it feels weird and awkward to watch Korin perform without her glasses, mainly because I'm pretty sure she really can't see anything without them. While her vocals are as lovely and strong as ever, the delivery feels stilted, because she's trying to force herself into delivering the lyrics exactly as Gwen did in rehearsal. Overall, she's just a little lost, without even a mic stand to cling to.

    Song: "Aida"
    Team: Gwen

  4. Shelby Brown

    There's no greater American narrative than when a sweet country girl leaves her home state and embraces a bit of a rockier edge, and Shelby absolutely nails the transition, as her confidence literally commands that we pay attention to her talent. It's not that I believe she's tough, per se, but I believe that she wants to explore this style from her own point of view and it makes me excited to watch what she does next (plus, she looks adorable in her cream lace babydoll dress, black tights, red lip, and cornrows).

    Song: "You're No Good"
    Team: Adam

  5. Braiden Sunshine

    You know in Twilight when Bella and Edward have that baby that's really an adult in a baby's body? That's basically Braiden, and believe it or not, I actually mean that in a good way (also, what does Gwen have against glasses?!).

    Song: "Everything I Own"
    Team: Gwen

  6. Blaine Mitchell

    This song choice is perfect for Blaine, even though it highlights the fact that he maybe should be on a different show. His tone is softly assertive and he gets the gentle, swaying vibe just right; it's definitely an arrangement to listen to on repeat on a Sunday morning or weeknight post-Netflix and chill. The problem is that maybe it doesn't make for the most memorable performance, as there aren't any theatrics (vocal or otherwise), so it remains to be seen exactly how well the live version will hold up.

    Song: "Never Tear Us Apart"
    Team: Adam

  7. Keith Semple

    Keith surprises with an awesomely confident song choice that's easily one of the more impressive performances of the last several seasons. The arrangement is super-cool, and he's confident enough to allow the orchestra to take on most of the choruses, leaving just the ad libs and embellishments for himself and his perfectly high pitch. The last woo at the end is a bit much, but when you're sounding that much like Eric Clapton, nothing is really ever that bad.

    Song: "To Be With You"
    Team: Adam

  8. Amy Vachal

    Amy's not technically perfect -- her voice cracks into a sharp note in the middle of an early run -- but she's just so damn good at this type of crooner standard jazz that I want to join in Blake's begging for her to put out a Christmas album.

    Song: "The Way You Look Tonight"
    Team: Adam

  9. Viktor Kiraly

    It takes Viktor a minute to transition into the D'Angelo-esque arrangement, but once he does, it's goooood. His falsetto is crazy, his look is great, and everything is just all-around really polished.

    Song: "All Around The World"
    Team: Gwen

  10. Jordan Smith

    Jordan's a teensy bit pitchy, but his vocal control -- those runs! -- and the overall arrangement more than make up for any flaws; it's hard to believe that a guy who has the backlit silhouette of Jonah Hill can sound so amazing (seriously, check yourself, lighting designer), but he does and it's just completely lovely.

    Song: "Halo"
    Team: Adam

  11. Chance Pena

    Chance never made much of an impression in any of the earlier rounds, but I'm really glad Adam decided to bring him back, as I just can't see anyone else in the competition delivering quite the commanding performance that Chance does here; his baritone and pure energy are an awesome combination of natural skills and rehearsed showmanship. Hopefully he gets to stick around a lot longer than originally intended.

    Song: "Barton Hallow"
    Team: Adam

  12. Jeffery Austin

    Sometimes, all a ginger Sam Smith needs is a solid song choice, perfect pitch, excellent showmanship, and an arrangement with a crazy breakdown in the middle.

    Song: "Say You Love Me"
    Team: Gwen

Tomorrow night: Teams Pharrell and Blake take the stage! Blake and Gwen pretend to ignore each other while secretly hating that Pharrell is seated in between them! Carson gets to speak more actual words on the actual stage!

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