The Voice's Michaela Paige on Deadly High Heels, Bleeped Lyrics and the Origin of Her Mohawk
Before she made the Top 12 on Season 3 of The Voice, Michaela Paige thought reality TV was “stupid and pointless.” Good thing somebody in her household felt differently.
The Mohawk-rocking 16-year-old explains that it was her father who sent to show producers a video of her singing Jessie J’s “Nobody’s Perfect” (taped at a New York City record-label showcase), and that fateful move led to her invitation to the Season 3 Blind Auditions and a spot on Blake Shelton’s team.
Of course, Michaela has other reasons to thank her dad, too. “He was the first one to discover me singing and dancing in front of the full-length mirror in the bathroom when I was eight years old,” she says. “So it really all started with him.”
TVLine caught up with Michaela to discuss her best Season 3 moments, her signature style, and the wardrobe woes that almost jettisoned her final performance of Pink’s “Blow Me (One Last Kiss).”
TVLINE | I feel like you first broke out this season in your Knockout Round performance of “Love Is a Battlefield” against Collin McLoughlin. How did you end up picking a song that’s older than you are?
Growing up, I listened to a lot of blues and jazz and older rock music. Listening to the ladies of rock, it’s helped me shape my artistry. “Love is a Battlefield” is one of those songs that you can feel, and I’m all about songs that you have a strong emotional connection to. And as a storyteller, if I can get people to feel that emotion, that’s the best thing I can do. “Love is a Battlefield” has been my favorite performance thus far, and I really think that I was able to shine on that song.
TVLINE | Of all the Voice contestants this season, you had the most distinctive signature look — from your Mohawk to your flared, tulle skirts, your boots, even your color scheme. Was this a look that you’d been cultivating prior to your time on the show? And was it a strategic move to try to win votes by having that visual element in place?
The week before I went out to L.A. for the Blind Auditions, I did a hair show in New York. My hair had never been up in a Mohawk; I was way too scared to do anything like that. That’s how they styled it up that day, and the Voice producers caught wind of the pictures, and everyone said, “You should do this for your Blind Audition. It really makes you stand out.” So the Mohawk was a creation that happened right before [the season began]. But other than that, I’ve got a very strong sense of my style. I love expressing myself through fashion and through what I wear. It’s part of who I am. I feel like it’s one big game of dress-up.
TVLINE | Is your wild style just for when you’re on stage, or could we expect to see you rocking those kinds of clothes when you’re headed to the mall with friends?
Oh, absolutely you can catch me in stuff like that everywhere I go. Wardrobe was my favorite part of the entire show, which is really sad. [Laughs] But when I’d meet with them, they’d say that some of my outfits were too dressy for [filming mentoring sessions with] Blake. And I was like, “But that’s what I’d wear normally!”
TVLINE | Tell me about your Live Playoffs cover of “Everybody Talks.” You were bopping around all over the stage during that performance and managed to stay on pitch. How hard is that to do?
When you’re running around on stage, it’s really important to make sure that you don’t run yourself out of breath. And I actually started feeling it in my throat in the end of the song, to the point where I was like “All right, well I need to stay in one spot for a little while so I can regain my breath.” It’s really about knowing how much you can do, and making sure that your vocals shine through no matter what you’re doing performance-wise.
TVLINE | That week, you needed Blake to use his save on you to make the Top 12. And you were standing there next to Liz Davis, his lone country artist — the only country artist in the whole competition, in fact — and Julio Cesar Castillo, a guy who’d gotten a standing ovation for his performance from all four judges the night before. How badly were you freaking out?
I was absolutely freaking out with every muscle in my body, because Blake didn’t hide the fact that he wanted a country singer in the finals. And, of course, the audience was screaming Julio’s name, so I was just standing there going, “Okay, what [parting words] am I going to say to Blake to really make a mark on him before I leave?” So for him to call my name was completely unexpected, and I tried to keep it together there for a little while, and then I saw my teammates and after that I turned and I saw Blake. And every time I saw Blake that night, whether it was during the show or after the show, I was just hysterical. There were so many mixed emotions. I mean, I was so happy. I was scared out of my mind. And I was just so thankful that he put me through.
TVLINE | So for Top 12 week, you had some things stacked against you from the get-go. You had to go in the leadoff spot, which never helps in terms of getting votes. You had a song, Pink’s “Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” where every fifth word of the chorus, you can’t actually sing it, you have to bleep it out with a “shhh.” Tell me about your frame of mind approaching the performance with those obstacles.
The song kicked my butt, and it was a challenge. I didn’t realize I was going first until a couple hours before the show. They were like, “We love your energy. You’ve got to go first and hype up the crowd.” So that’s what I tried to do, and I was really happy with my performance. In general, though, the song is wordy. It takes a ridiculous amount of range, and I was actually really excited when the producers said, “Well, you’re not allowed to say the word [s---], so we just want you to play with the shushing.” I was like, “Thank God, that’ll give me a chance to actually regain my breath during the song.”
TVLINE | On that performance, I felt like you came into your own once you got down the stairs. Is it tricky maneuvering parts of the stage, being conscious of where the camera is, singing a gajillion words a minute, and not falling on your face?
I actually tripped for the first time down the stage during rehearsal. And they put me in these heels and I said, “Guys, I can’t wear heels going down the stairs.” And they’re like, “All right, well just try them out and see if you need to change into flats.” So the first run-through, I was a little wobbly on the stairs and I’m going, “I can’t focus on my performance while I’m trying to walk down stairs in these giant, ridiculous heels.” So they go, “All right, well, run through it one more time in the heels and then we’ll switch you out.” The beginning of the song starts, and the third stair down, my ankle goes to the side and I swear to God, I thought I was going to fall down the stairs. And I was really upset because I wouldn’t even have gotten the pity vote from America because it would have been during rehearsal! [Laughs] It was tricky. I was really happy when they threw me in combat boots. It gave me the ability to run around the stage and to really have fun with it, and I wasn’t too worried about falling and possibly breaking my face.
TVLINE | And there’s the answer to the age-old question, “Why is it so hard for women to win reality singing competitions?” Guys get to wear a pair of sneakers, women are saddled with deadly heels.
Oh, there’s no doubt that the shoes are definitely a huge factor. I was like, “Okay, I don’t care if Blake is 6′ 4″ or 6′ 5″ and I’m only 5′ 1.” I didn’t like my rehearsals at all because I was way too focused on walking down stairs and not focused enough on actually performing the song. Once they put you in really big heels, they put a constraint on your performance.
What did you think of Michaela’s Season 3 trajectory? Did she go home too soon? Sound off in the comments, and for all my Voice news, interviews, recaps, and videos, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!