The Voice recap: 'Live Top 8 Performances'
Well, well, well, voters, you have got your work cut out for you this week. Because almost everybody has come out to play and slay on The Voice‘s top eight performance round.
Between their individual showcases and the duets (which are surprisingly on point tonight), there’s no one who just phones it in this time; they all give it everything they’ve got to earn your nod for the final four tomorrow night. The frontrunners are still frontrunners, of course, but who’ll make it into the finale? Let’s see if we can figure that out based on their work this evening.
Team Adam: Adam Cunningham
“I’m Already There” by Lonestar
Last week, Adam Cunningham managed to do something pretty unexpected by not only surviving a third week after being in the bottom two but avoiding the bottom altogether in the process. His performance was more authentic than most of what we’ve seen from him this season, and, by golly, he just sounded better. By that measure, tonight’s performance is also a success.
There are some very pitchy parts throughout, and when he resorts to scream-singing to replace the big notes he just can’t reach (sigh) it’s pretty grating stuff. But to Adam’s credit, he spends a lot of his stage time simmering on a pleasant, softer sound. He still can’t decide if he wants to be Luke Combs or Van Morrison, but maybe it’s a good thing he hasn’t figured that out because Red Marlow seems to have the market on pure country locked, while Noah Mac’s got the edge on soft rock stylings. Is it enough to put him in the top four? Doubtful. But he can go home from here on a high note, so that’s still good news.
Chloe Kohanski and Noah Mac
“Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak
These two. Individually, I’ve never been quite as sold on Noah Mac as others have been, but during this particular number, I definitely get the appeal. His mood is well matched in Chloe Kohanski’s smoky textures and equally emo countenance. Maybe it’s the fact that Chloe hasn’t let him tinker with (read: obliterate) the usual instrumentals here or the way they both have to be just withdrawn enough to give each other space, or maybe they just vocally mesh well — but whatever the reason, I’m digging this duet a lot.
Team Jennifer: Davon Fleming
“Gravity” by John Mayer
This is a smart song choice for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it’s a fresh genre for Davon Fleming to explore, and now’s as good a time as any for him to surprise us in a pleasant way. For another, this particular melody never asks him to dive into that whisper intro thing that’s been so tedious for us all season. Instead, he starts at and works throughout with his full voice, which is much much much more impressive.
The song still allows him to play around with his little crescendos and those errant “ooh”s and “ahh”s that he likes to throw in, but even with his hyper-spiritual bent coming in toward the end, there’s a calm to this song that’s just plain old nice to hear from him.
Team Blake: Red Marlow
“Go Rest High on That Mountain” by Vince Gill
I don’t know how else to say it: Red Marlow just doesn’t have the range of his competitors at this point. Week after week, he goes up there and does his darnedest with his aw-shucks self-deprecation and manages to make it through above singers who are more talented, or at least more unique.
Tonight, he sings one of the most emotionally evocative country songs of all time, and yet the song is a shell of its former self. Whereas Vince Gill’s voice is remarkable for its tenderness and sappy energy, Red’s voice is rigid. If this isn’t the last stop for him, I no longer understand this show. (Recap continues on page 2)
Brooke Simpson and Davon Fleming
“Earned It” by The Weeknd
Davon Fleming was made to sing something by The Weeknd, and, surprisingly enough, so is Brooke Simpson. Considering we’ve just heard a song built almost entirely of Davon’s full voice, it’s kind of nice to hear him lean so much into his crazy falsetto in this duet. Meanwhile, Brooke has some pretty angelic high notes herself but manages to bring both ferocity and vulnerability to her end. Together, they’re nowhere near perfect, but they definitely seem to be having fun up there.
Team Blake: Keisha Renee
“What Hurts the Most” by Rascal Flatts
Of all the goose bump-inducing singers on this show, Keisha Renee really earns some warm and fuzzy feelings every time she steps to that mic, no? Last week, she made a smart move by stepping away from the country zone to shake things up and keep people interested, but this time, she’s going right back to that sweet spot: taking a well known country anthem and putting her own little soul spin on it.
At first, her performance is uplifting and still sad at the same time. But by the end, it’s getting pretty messy. Things start to fall apart during the early verses, which are so quick that she struggles to spit them out in time to nail the chorus, but she tries to save herself by leaning into her R&B rhythms. Keisha has something of a Janice Freeman moment at the song’s climax — and I’m not sure if that chaotic energy completely works for her. Even so, she’s still compelling, and I want to hear so much more from her, but we’ll have to wait and see how the voters feel about this delivery.
Adam Cunningham and Red Marlow
“Can’t You See” by the Marshall Tucker Band
Though I’m not sure either of these gentlemen is built to last on this program, it’s a very duh decision to have these two share the stage in tonight’s duets. The result is not terrible. The chief complaint I have is how much Adam Cunningham is expected to carry the chorus while Red Marlow handles the most important verses, but this is still a serviceable duet, and considering how bad these things can be, let’s call that a win.
Team Blake: Chloe Kohanski
“I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner
Look, at this point it’s no secret that this season is Chloe Kohanski’s to lose. The only person who truly seems to share a shot at the winner’s circle is Addison Agen, but with Chloe continuing to be so consistent and tapping into that gnarly ’80s/’90s female grunge sound that provokes so many feelings, well, it’s hard for her to miss.
Tonight, she sings an old favorite with her usual air of authority, but what’s so striking is how well she demonstrates her vocal control and the deep understanding she has of what makes her voice interesting. It might be hyperbole for Blake Shelton to dub her “the most iconic voice we have ever had on this show,” but it’s pretty much guaranteed people will be ready to buy her records just to hear some more of that gripping growl.
Keisha Renee and Addison Agen
“Strong Enough” by Sheryl Crow
These two on their own are delightful enough, but who knew they would be such a complement to one another on this stage? Addison’s a gentle little gem who always hits her marks and whose voice you just want to swim in, and Keisha brings in her own flowery tones that are filled with notes you don’t see coming but which totally work. Together, they’re a lovely combination, and even their little Target Christmas commercial solidifies their status as a surprisingly swell pairing. This one just works. (Recap continues on page 3)
Team Jennifer: Noah Mac
“River” by Bishop Briggs
At this point, I’m starting to think Noah Mac is kind of like bubble tea. You either dig what’s happening with all the flavors and colors and sensory grabs…or you’re on the outside wondering what the heck everyone’s going on about.
Tonight, he’s channeling that angsty aesthetic he came into this show with for what he describes as the “modern-day ‘Eye of the Tiger.'” Performance-wise, he’s basically just a bundle of vibes and a pair of drumsticks floating around the stage with his haunting, almost angry tones and asking the audience to feel as much as he does. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Team Adam: Addison Agen
“Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell
Sigh. This song, on paper, seems like such a good choice for her. Addison did a nice job with a Joni Mitchell song not too long ago, and this is one that people are probably more familiar with. But somehow, it’s surprisingly boring tonight.
Addison has been asked by her coach to “carry the swells” of the song, “swing for the fences,” and “transcend the song itself,” which is a mighty tall order for anyone, let alone a 16-year-old who admits she doesn’t have a super tight connection with the lyrics here. Her voice is still magnificent when she gets it going, but there are far too many parts where she has nothing to do. This song notwithstanding, her other performances should be more than enough to see her through to the big stage.
Team Miley: Brooke Simpson
“Faithfully” by Journey
With Brooke Simpson, it’s easy to take for granted just how strong and controlled her voice is until she pulls out that ridiculously large note and stretches it to inhuman levels before casually moving on to the next verse like it’s nothing. There’s also a sense of earnestness and energy behind everything she does up there that makes it obvious she’s a whole-package performer. There are quite a few ladies left in this competition with the chops to do big things, but don’t sleep on Brooke Simpson either.
Chloe Kohanski and Addison Agen will make it through, 100 percent.
Red Marlow, Davon Fleming, Adam Cunningham — they probably won’t make it. The only one who (inexplicably) might is Red.
That leaves Brooke Simpson, Keisha Renee, and Noah Mac in contention for the third and fourth slots, and I’m a little stumped as to who’ll get through. Keisha would be my personal pick, but does she have enough fanbase momentum to make it happen?
Who should advance to the final four? Chloe, Addison, Keisha, and mayyybe Noah Mac (with Brooke as a very suitable alternative). Who will advance? Probably Chloe, Addison, Noah, and Brooke, so that every coach has someone in the ring for the final round.
- Team Adam: Addison Agen, Adam Cunningham
- Team Miley: Brooke Simpson
- Team Jennifer: Davon Fleming, Noah Mac
- Team Blake: Keisha Renee, Red Marlow, Chloe Kohanski
A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.