As The Voice continued through its first season, viewers were witness to a slightly different elimination process than what they were accustomed to on American Idol. Rather than having the whole group of 16 quarter-finalists perform, the first live show was formatted to pit the four contestants selected by mentor Christina Aguilera (Team Christina) against the four chosen by Blake Shelton (Team Blake). Out of those eight, only four would advance to the semi-finals. Did the eight contestants do their mentors proud? Find out in our recap of The Voice's first Quarterfinals round.
The first half of The Voice's Quarterfinals got off to a lively start as Team Christina's Raquel Castro brought a full-fledged production to the stage. Raquel Castro's version of "Blow" was not perfect by any standard, but the combination of her more-than-adequate vocals and solid dancing skills set the bar high for the remaining contestants to bring both talent and personality to the stage. However, on a show that is touting The Voice, one would think vocal quality should be front and center, rather than staging an X Factor-like spectacle. Ke$ha kept her perfect run of top 10 hits rolling in 2011 as "Blow" climbed to number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.
In the intro to Jared Blake's performance during the Quarterfinals of The Voice, mentor Blake Shelton expressed concern over Jared Blake's inability to pick between country and rock. Although many may think that there isn't much difference between the two at times, it looked like Jared Blake's decision to follow his inner rocker was a wise one, as he owned the audience during his passable version of "Use Somebody." While the Kings of Leon have hit the singles charts in the UK regularly since 2003, they never hit the Top 40 in their home country of America until 2008, when "Use Somebody" reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as number one on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks, Pop Songs and Adult Top 40 charts.
No song during the first half of The Voice's Quarterfinals fit its contestant better than Beverly McClellan's selection of "I'm the Only One," which she commanded from the moment she took the stage. If there was any complaint about Beverly McClellan's musical choices, it was that her song choices were very predictable, potentially pigeon-holing her into a very narrow vocal expectation. "I'm the Only One" became the sole top 10 record and biggest hit of Melissa Etheridge's career, reaching number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1993.
Team Blake's Dia Frampton took to The Voice stage during the first half of the Quarterfinals and brought an original take to Kanye West's "Heartless." Although it was clear that Dia Frampton was very nervous, her passionate performance earned her a standing ovation and a Top 30 ranking on iTunes the next day. Kanye West took a more unique approach to rap when he recorded "Heartless," and he was rewarded with one of the biggest hits of 2009, reaching number two on the Pop charts. Singing reality show fans will recognize the song as the breakout moment for Kris Allen in season eight of American Idol, which many cite as the song that catapulted him to front-runner and eventual winner of that season.
After an amazingly strong first hours of the first Quarterfinals episode on The Voice, Team Blake's Xenia took to the stage singing "Price Tag," a song that was fresh in the minds of viewers as it was in heavy rotation on Pop stations across the country. Despite a smoky, low-key vocal that was distinct for a girl her age, Xenia killed the momentum the show had going into the second half with a nervous performance that was uncomfortable to watch. Jessie J broke through in the US with "Price Tag," which reached number 23 on the Pop chart only a month prior to Xenia's performance.
The one pure misstep of The Voice's first Quarterfinal night was Lily Elise's painful rendition of "Big Girls Don't Cry." Despite a great image and accompanying choreography, Lily Elise struggled with her stage presence and staying on the melody. Of the four contestants on Team Christina, Lily Elise was the most likely to not advance to the next round. Fergie not only recorded "Big Girls Don't Cry" in 2006, but she also co-wrote the song with Toby Gad. "Big Girls Don't Cry" became the third number one hit from Fergie's debut album The Duchess.
Amongst the eight contestants that competed on the first Quarterfinal episode of The Voice's first season, country singer Patrick Thomas was the most radio-ready performer with his competent rendition of "I Hope You Dance." As his mentor Blake Shelton pointed out, not only does Patrick Thomas have a great voice, but he also has a great stage presence and professional appearance that would make him a natural for Country radio and concerts. Lee Ann Womack scored a number one Country hit and top 20 Pop hit with "I Hope You Dance," but many listeners do not realize that Country group Sons of the Desert who sang backup on the track had several Country hits of their own, including the top 10 hit "Whatever Comes First."
If there was any doubt that dance music had returned to the mainstream in the US, despite missing the pop top 40, Team Christina's Frenchie Davis helped drive the point home by singing "When Love Takes Over" as the final performance on The Voice's first Quarterfinal episode. Frenchie Davis may have found a niche that she fits into, as there is a long line of powerful vocalists recording high-energy dance tracks. "When Love Takes Over" reached number one on the Hot Dance Chart for David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland in 2009, and was cited as the 33rd biggest dance record of the first decade of the Twenty-First Century.