The Voice recap: The Top 13 perform for a spot in the semifinals
The semifinals are coming up, and there are no saves or steals in the mix this time
We’re rapidly approaching the end of The Voice Season 16, as the Top 13 are competing for those coveted spots in the semifinals. Right now, Blake Shelton has an almost unfair share of the contenders, but that isn’t stopping the contestants on Adam Levine, Kelly Clarkson, and John Legend‘s teams from putting on a show. Team John in particular makes a strong stand in this round, so let’s take a look at the performances of the evening and see if we can’t figure out how the semifinals might look next week.
Gyth Rigdon (Team Blake) – “Nobody but Me” by Blake Shelton
Fans have chosen Blake Shelton’s own number for Gyth Rigdon because they hope it’ll continue to showcase how “on fire” he’s been and let him lean into his “crowd-pleaser” persona. Blake is impressed by that selection for obvious reasons but also thinks it’s a good fit for Gyth’s easy stage presence. It does work well for him during the performance, as Gyth’s rasp carries through nicely in the number, and he carries forward the same make-it-look-easy composure he’s had all season. That said, it’s not a particularly memorable showcase, but he may have established himself well enough already to court the votes needed to go forward all the same. Blake and fellow coach John Legend at least agree, Gyth certainly performs like he belongs on that stage.
Kim Cherry (Team Blake) – “Whatta Man” by Salt-N-Pepa
Kelly Clarkson might like to hear her “wail on some beautiful ballad,” but this is fan week, and Kim Cherry’s loyal voters want to hear some more of the breezy ’90s hip-hop appeal that sets her apart from the rest. Her energy and confidence is part of what’s keeping in her in this thing, for them, and this song will let her navigate from those fun rapping skills to her considerable singing gifts throughout. As ever, it’s Kim Cherry’s self-possession that make her lyrical showcase a delight. She’s not afraid to animate her vocals and body movements to add some theatrics to the sillier bits of the delivery, and she completely sells it. Her singing portions are also strong, so, if nothing else, Kim Cherry has once again showed us here that she’s consistently coming into this thing to put on a fun show.
Jej Vinson (Team Kelly) – “Close” by Nick Johnson and Tove Lo
Jejmanians can relax a bit now that Jej Vinson has proven that he’s still got the same soft, mannered soulful tones that blew everyone away in the blinds. He’s not the most boisterous performer, of course, and a lot of what he does is nuanced — as his coach Kelly points out, his runs aren’t over-the-top but are still considerate and precise — but he’s his slow groove has gotten him this far, and this is right in line with everything else he’s done in this competition.
Andrew Sevener (Team Blake) – “She Got the Best of Me” by Luke Combs
Andrew has defied some stout odds to get to this point in the show, and he is having a ball with becoming a hometown hero because of his continued success here. Tonight’s song selection is right in his wheelhouse — it’s got the same determined southern swagger that he seems to thrive with. However, as John Legend notes, his “passion” and “energy” give way to some technical errors throughout, and his own coach Blake Shelton seems to echo that assessment, suggesting that the reason for some of his note drops is that he’s “on [level] 10 at all times.”
Oliv Blue (Team Blake) – “Smooth Operator” by Sade
Blake Shelton was right to save Oliv Blu from elimination last round, and not just because she was one of the few people left to save from his stacked team at that point. Oliv Blue’s prior showcases have revealed a dreamy, transportative stage presence that she has had some trouble recapturing, but she deserves another shot to show that off. This week, the fans have chosen a number that should be atmospheric enough to take her there. She’s certainly got the look for it, too, and seems to be savoring the rhythm of this piece as she performs. It’s not perfect, but it’s enough to make John Legend regret the fact that she’s no longer on his team.
Dexter Roberts (Team Blake) – “Something Like That” by Tim McGraw
As the third country music man to take the stage tonight, Dexter Roberts really needs to distinguish himself from Gyth Rigdon and Andrew Sevener, so he plays to the crowd and hones in on a peppier tone than his predecessors. There are some spots when his notes drop out — perhaps a result of all the crowd-work he’s doing throughout — but Kelly Clarkson is impressed with how well he represents the “lifestyle” of the genre.
Shawn Sounds (Team John) – “A House Is Not a Home” by Luther Vandross
Let’s not sleep on Shawn Sounds, especially after this performance. Although he struggles with the lower-than-low opening notes, the rest of his delivery here is pretty gripping. He even manages to get John Legend out of his chair with one decadent growl run in the middle. His coach might be dishing out hyperbole here, but John tells him after his performance, “That was one of the best performances anybody has done in this entire competition this season … We’re going all the way, Shawn.”
Celia Babini (Team John) – “Shallow” by Lady Gaga
You gotta hand it to Celia Babini for stepping up to the challenge here with such a mainstream, and yet incredibly difficult song choice here. Her “Babini Babies” aren’t making it easy on her tonight, and it’s clear from the intro here that she’s a bit nervous as she talk-sings her way through the first verse. Celia really sells it at that mega-hook, though, transitioning into the power ballad portion to give it her own feel. The fact that she dives into the sha-ha-shallows of the crowd is a nice touch, too.
L.B. Crew (Team Adam) – “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boyz II Men
If nothing else, L.B. Crew has proven that the Comeback Stage concept has its benefits because he was one of at least two singers who didn’t deserve to get knocked out of the cross battles. This time, he has some fun with this sexy R&B favorite and blends right into the original aesthetic of the song. Thing get a little messy in the middle, but he’s still clearly enjoying himself, and Adam Levine still believes he’s a “true talent.”
Mari Jones (Team Adam) – “Foolish” by Ashanti
Adam Levine is mostly invested in Mari Jones because she’s got that “coolness” factor and because, yeah, she’s got the same kind of eccentric “taste” that he does. Her vocals have never been the most take-notice of the competition, but there is something to be said for the fact that she knows her style and goes with it. There are some pitchy points, and her range is clearly not as broad as she’d like it to be, but Adam still compliments her for being “an artist” and embracing herself as her “own thing.”
Carter Lloyd Horne (Team Blake) – “Let It Go” by James Bay
Blake Shelton appreciates this fan song choice for Carter Lloyd Horne because he thinks it’ll show a more vulnerable side which may be a good thing to keep him in it. Carter’s got some heartthrob appeal going for himself, as he’s apparently been DMed untold amounts of prom date requests, so putting a little “angst” into the mix could keep that intrigue going. Indeed, this song allows his ’80s soft rock vibes to carry through just fine, but it is still one of the least lively performances of the night as he seems to be a bit withdrawn and careful throughout. No crowd-surfing for Carter.
Rod Stokes (Team Kelly) – “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge
With so many other country singers going up tonight, it’s smart for Rod Stokes to draw from his more soulful side, so this is a solid fan song selection for him. What’s even better is that he delivers it with a lot of poise and allows his natural soft rock textures to shine without needing a bunch of bells and whistles. As his former coach Blake Shelton notes, this is another performance elevation for him.
Maelyn Jarmon (Team John) – “The Scientist” by Coldplay
The Voice saved the best for last this week. Maelyn Jarmon has inspired a lot of hearing-impaired fans with her talent and the fact that she doesn’t consider it a handicap, so this week they’ve chosen a song that’ll allow her to lay all of her skills on the table: her considerable range, the pretty and sweet moments, a few haunting notes, and, of course, her impeccable instincts for how to navigate through a number without overdoing it. She knows she doesn’t need to belt to give audiences goosebumps, so she glides through the piece like she’s already the headliner of the evening. As John Legend puts it, “That skill level is not normal.”
Seven of the Top 13 will be voted through by America, while the bottom three will immediately be sent packing. The other three will then get a chance to perform for the final spot in the semifinals, so here are some thoughts about who might end up where.
Definitely going through: Maelyn Jarmon, Shawn Sounds, Gyth Rigdon, Rod Stokes
Probably going through: Dexter Roberts, Carter Lloyd Horne, Jej Vinson
Might have to fight for it: Celia Babini, L.B. Crew, Andrew Sevener, Kim Cherry, Oliv Blue, Mari Jones
Adam Levine (2): Mari Jones, L.B. Crew
Kelly Clarkson (2): Jej Vinson, Rod Stokes
John Legend (3): Maelyn Jarmon, Shawn Sounds, Celia Babini
Blake Shelton (6): Gyth Rigdon, Kim Cherry, Carter Lloyd Horne, Dexter Roberts, Andrew Sevener, Oliv Blu