Lewis Jacobs/NBC
Carson Daly
April 03, 2012 AT 04:09 PM EDT

And we’re live! The atmosphere last night was electrifying. To me, there’s nothing more exciting than live television, and we unveiled this new set that was big and bright and enormous. It felt like the Starship Enterprise, it was so huge. And the crowd was gigantic, filled with anticipation for these live shows, which are just so much fun to do. It’s just like one big party. Backstage, we have this trailer village, we call it, where all of the coaches and myself and Christina Milian hang out together. It’s just like camp! The whole atmosphere at the beginning of the live shows was just electrifying. You walk backstage and you see Sera Hill’s dancers rubbing oil on their bodies, or you hear Chris Mann’s warm-up (which is so loud, of course, and echoes throughout the whole room), or you find Moses Stone stretching. There’s a lot of last minute prep, and it’s all really fun. It’s such a circus… in a good way!

Doing live TV is like being one of those swimmers you see every now and then that do the Polar Bear Plunge, where they swim in freezing water. It takes your body a second to get acclimated to live TV: I’m wearing an earpiece where I have a whole control room of people helping me, telling me to move the show along, and I’ve got a ton of business to get to, so for me it took a few minutes in the very beginning to welcome everybody and find my bearing. Then once we got to that first performance from Jermaine Paul, I could breathe easy!

I thought the performances last night were really strong. To start, I loved Erin Willett’s performance of “Living for the City.” Look at the uphill road that Erin’s gone down this season, with her father passing away during the battle rounds. If anybody showed courage by simply performing, it was her, not to mention that she ended up being one of the standouts last night. There was certainly divine inspiration on Erin Willett’s side last night in the form of her father, and her family must be so proud of her this morning. Not only did she get up on that stage in front of millions of Americans and perform, but she knocked it out of the park.

The live shows show you not only who has a voice and who can improve (and there were some good improvements last night, by Ashley De La Rosa, for example, and even Moses for that matter), but you also get to see who can command a stage and who can work with the other elements, as true performers have to. You can see who’s at home up there, who’s got that real confidence, and how they can build on that.

Even if they weren’t your favorite performers, I want to highlight the confident people last night. Erin was certainly one of them. Jermaine Paul, definitely one. Obviously, Jesse Campbell. And I thought Charlotte Sometimes was very comfortable onstage. I really liked her take on Paramore, which showed off the range of her voice, which is pretty distinctive.

Chris Mann was also a standout. I absolutely loved his performance. You look at somebody like Chris and you start to think, I would have paid 10 bucks to walk in this place to watch this guy sing. And now you’re starting to see that some of these artists could put out an album right now, and it would sell. They’re real entertainers.

NEXT: Lindsey Pavao, Jordis Unga and an explanation for what was going on with those coaches…

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