The top 8 had another week of personal bests this week, as they came out swinging for a chance to make it through to next week’s show.
What a night it was. Never before have we seen such consistently excellent, bar-raising performances from so many contestants, week after week, like we’ve seen from season 8’s group. There were plenty of highlights from tonight’s performance episode, but one of them was surely Carson’s eye-rolling mockery of his buddy Blake’s response to the show’s stupid tweet segment: “Thank you, Blake Shelton. As always, mesmerizing.”
Group and Guest Performances
The top 8 performed for us in what ended up being a Battle of the Sexes, using Avicii songs. Our remaining three boys kicked it off with “Hey Brother.” It was the perfect kind of folksy song for Joshua Davis, Corey Kent White, and Sawyer Fredericks. It suited all of their voices very well, and the three of them made some really beautiful harmonies together.
Then it was the girls’ turn, singing “Don’t Wake Me Up.” Kimberly, Hannah, Meghan, Koryn, and India are all so talented, but they are also all powerful belters, so every girls group performance sort of comes off as a bit of a battle of one-upmanship, not necessarily through any fault of their own. Regardless, it is undeniable that we have a truly talented top 8 this season.
Blake took the stage to perform his new hit “Sangria.” While it’s not his best booze-themed song, it’s another catchy tune that’s sure to be a summer hit. It was also good to see season 2’s Gwen Sebastian back as Blake’s backup singer. Her time on Team Blake has certainly worked out well for her. While drinking sangria is probably not required to enjoy this performance to its fullest, Blake would surely approve.
Season 7 favorite Matt McAndrew made his triumphant return to The Voice stage tonight, proving he’s just as adorable of a nerd rocker as ever. His new song “Counting On Love” is SUPER-catchy, and hopefully will become the the radio hit that The Voice alums have been lacking. Honestly, who can resist a song that is so reminiscent of The Black Crowes’ “Hard to Handle”? Matt was joined onstage by Adam’s bandmate James Valentine, which means that now Voice viewers will be able to name at least one other member of Maroon 5.
Top 8 Performances
Hannah Kirby loves a song with a good message, and she is using her platform on The Voice to perform songs with messages that she is passionate about. Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero” is about being your own hero, and Hannah Kirby is a hero to all of us, with her fun, powerful, theatrical performances.
This one was the best one yet, thanks to Cee Lo’s suggestion of a children’s choir. The adorable kids came out for the last act, clapping very enthusiastically, and wearing sparkly shoes that seem to suggest that Cee Lo is coming out with a children’s fashion line.
Joshua Davis may be the last man standing on Team Adam, but he was at quite an advantage this week, as the only contestant to ever be coached by two winning coaches at the same time. Usher joined Adam to help Joshua prepare for his performance of Sting’s “Fields of Gold.” Joshua felt it was the kind of song he would write, and the lyrics related to his career and family struggles.
It’s a very soothing-sounding song to begin with, but with Joshua’s warm honey voice, it was like a dream. He may have possibly even lulled Adam to sleep, as he had his eyes closed and his head bowed as he took in the performance.
Kimberly Nichole, guys. She is not messing around, and has not been messing around this whole season. So when we found out she’d be performing Radiohead’s “Creep,” we knew we were in for a treat. But of course Kimberly had to go above and beyond and mix it up with a little bit of jazz flair. The tinkling piano added a touch of madness, and Kimberly’s incredible voice took us on a journey of emotions, ending up lounging on the floor for the most powerful part of the song.
The only downside of the performance was the fact that its style was so similar to that of American Idol alum Haley Reinhart’s recent Postmodern Jukebox performance that made the rounds this month. The unique performance, while still out of this world, would have made more of an impact if we hadn’t seen something so similar, so recently.
Meghan Linsey had a big week last week, but she would have to keep it up this week if she wanted to stick around. She chose Beatle George Harrison’s beautiful “Something,” because she’s sung about a lot of heartbreak as a country and soul singer, but she is happily in love, and she wanted to sing about that as well.
Cee Lo’s suggestion to up the drama of her performance was to put her in the middle of an orchestra, which was a great suggestion. What was not great, was that they stuck Meghan, in her big moment, in about one square foot of space between two giant staircases full of orchestra. While she did step forward when she really got going at the end of the song, the beginning seemed a little bit claustrophobic.
India Carney set out to pull at our heartstrings this week with her performance of that Wizard of Oz classic, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” In rehearsals, Gwen and Christina helped India nail down the kind of artist she wants to be, and reminded her to connect with the audience. Christina wanted her to throw out her competitive instinct, and just live and breathe the song.
It’s already hard not to root for anyone singing this song that is so beloved to all of us, but when she started out a cappella, it took our breath away. It was, without question, India’s best performance yet. But while nailing a performance of her all-time favorite song, you would have thought she would have at least looked like she was enjoying herself.
Sawyer Fredericks is a simple kind of man, and that is what has gotten him so far in this competition. So of course, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” was the perfect song choice for him. Gwen admired his ability to captivate by not performing, but just being.
Pharrell challenged Sawyer to step outside his comfort zone, and walk around onstage to “greet the people.” Sawyer did so once, between choruses, and did just fine, but it was such a brief stroll that it seemed kind of pointless. Sawyer’s strength is in his basic, flawless delivery, so there’s no reason to jazz up his performances, even if it is just with a brief stroll.
Corey Kent White
Corey Kent White is the token country boy of season 8, so he was a little unsure of Blake’s song selection: Bad English’s “When I See You Smile.” It’s a classic rock song that Blake feels would be a country song today. Corey felt that the only country thing about the song was him singing it, but Blake wisely pointed out that oftentimes, a country singer taking on a rock song shows off just how country they are.
Blake was completely right, and the song was a perfect choice for Corey, allowing him to have his best performance yet. Also helpful: This is a perfect high school slow dance song, and Corey is a dreamy boy. Please slow dance with us, Corey.
With so many amazing performances tonight, one came to wonder how Koryn’s performance could have possibly earned her the final “show stopper” slot. We soon saw why. Koryn chose “Girl on Fire,” by Coach Pharrell’s pal Alicia Keys. Gwen suggested that she create a more dynamic performance by flipping in between vulnerable and strong. Koryn took this suggestion to heart, and it made for a much more emotional performance.
“Girl on Fire” has always been an anthem, but Koryn helped transform it into more of a victory song. She’s so good at conveying emotion, and has that perfectly-executed rasp in her voice, so you can’t help but be captivated by any of her performances. So sure, there were plenty of other great performances tonight, but the important thing to remember, is that Koryn is only 17 years old. This girl is on fire.
Who could possibly go home after those incredible performances? Find out Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on NBC.