The Voice has gone live! After weeks and weeks of wading through the Blind Auditions, the Battles, the Knockouts, and the Playoffs, season 24’s Top 12 finally took the stage for their first live performances — and for the first time this season, their fate will be in the hands of the audience. Exciting or terrifying? You decide! You could tell from the moment the show kicked off that the remaining 12 artists did not come to mess around. By the end of the evening, almost all 12 earned a standing ovation from the coaches and the “you could win this,” “this is your best performance,” “this feels like a finale” type of accolades were flying all over the place. With so many leaving it all out there on the stage, the first cut of the Lives — in which the Top 12 will become a Top 9 — is sure to be a tough one. Good thing Reba McEntire already has her wad of tissues at the ready.
While many of the remaining 12 contestants made a big impression, perhaps the one performance that will be reverberating in your brain for a while will be that of Team Niall’s powerhouse rocker Huntley — and not just because it was a great cover of “With A Little Help From My Friends,” but also because of that scream. That’s right, there was screaming. Deep, husky, screaming. It’s not like it was a surprise either: In rehearsals with both his coach Niall Horan and special guest mentor (and sometimes coach himself) Chance the Rapper, Huntley lets that gritty scream rip and even asks Niall and Chance what they thought about it after. They loved it, of course, but Niall wants to know how he can possibly do something like that over and over again and not blow out his voice. Huntley’s response: “My mom’s from Jersey, she’s real loud.”
It feels like an appropriate answer, since Huntley is dedicating this song to his mother. As a single dad, Huntley relies on his own mother a lot and wants to make her proud. By the looks of her weepy video chat and the note she leaves her son in his guitar case, it seems like he’s accomplished that.
And he certainly accomplishes that scream at the climax of his performance. Encircled by The Voice band, Huntley already performs like a pro. “You’re just so great at what you do,” John Legend tells the big, braided rocker. Huntley’s own coach can barely form a sentence at first, yelping with glee. Niall notes that the performance was good in rehearsals, but this was “a different league.”
Will it all be enough to earn a spot in the Top 9, or do moments like that play better in the room than on a television screen? We’ll find out during the first live results show of the season tomorrow. And with this new rule host Carson Daly introduces — that you can only vote for one artist instead of splitting your allotted number of votes amongst various artists you like, as it was in seasons past — perhaps we’re all in for some surprises.
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