The Voice’s Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Shakira, and Usher took a break from their coaching duties to treat a room of about 150 guests at Los Angeles’ Sayers club to a private concert, and EW was lucky enough to score a seat at the intimate soiree.
“This is intended to be up close and personal,” said Usher, who was the first of the four judges to take the stage. The R&B singer took it back to 2001 with a sultry rendition of “U Got It Bad” off his 8701 album. Usher capped off his two-song set by performing a stripped-down version of “Climax.”
“I hit my button a bunch of times just then!” said fellow judge Blake Shelton of Usher’s performance before climbing up on stage to perform. The country star drew a chorus of chuckles from the audience when he requested a beer before kicking off his two songs, which included a performance of his 2013 ballad “Mine Would Be You.”
Before Shelton performed his signature single, “Ol’ Red,” the country singer entertained those in attendance with a story about how an encounter with “Joy to the World” lyricist Hoyt Axton was the inspiration for putting the song on his first record. As Shelton tells it, he had been hired to paint Axton’s mother’s house as a teen when he had his run-in with Hoyt.
“I asked him, ‘You know in “Joy to the World” when you sing “Jeremiah was a bullfrog” – what does that mean?’” Shelton recalled. “And he said, ‘I believe that a songwriter is a person who was born with a radio receiver in their brain and it’s the job of the songwriter to tune in.’ … And then he tapped this song out and I held onto it until I put out my first record, and then I put it on there.”
Shelton’s pal Adam Levine, who was the next of The Voice coaches to take the stage, started off by expressing his love of playing an intimate venue versus an arena. “They told us to tell stories about the songs we’re singing tonight, but I have very few interesting stories to tell,” said Levine, who hit the stage guitar in hand. “I just really like The Beatles, so I’ll sing a Beatles song,” the Maroon 5 frontman said before diving into a falsetto-filled rendition of “If I Fell.”
Levine kept it short and sweet once again when he introduced his final song choice of the night: a performance of Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”
“I just really like Queen! I hope you enjoyed that story,” the singer joked. “This is Freddie Mercury doing Elvis, and that’s why I think it’s a cool song.”
Shakira was the last of the judges to take the stage, kicking things off with her new ballad “23.”
Finally, the “Can’t Remember to Forget You” singer capped off the night by bringing fellow judge Blake Shelton back on stage so they could perform their new song “Medicine” together.
“This is the first time we’re performing this song live together, so cut us some slack, OK?” the singer said. “And [Blake’s] really drunk right now, so I don’t know how this is going to go!”
Shakira’s good-natured jab at Blake drew quite a laugh from the crowd, but Shelton quickly fired back with a remark of his own. “Hey, y’all, no matter what you do that’s cool in the future, just remember: You didn’t get to sing with Shakira and I did. That’s badass!”