Do we already have a clear winner right now?

By Amanda Bell
May 14, 2019 at 08:35 AM EDT
S16 E20
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  • TV Show
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We’re in the home stretch of The Voice‘s 16th season, with the Top 8 contestants trying to nab the four spots in next week’s finale. At this point, the endgame seems pretty clear, with Team John Legend‘s Maelyn Jarmon having put up the most convincing series of showcases throughout the whole season, but there are at least a couple of contenders who could surprise us in the end.

Let’s take a look at how the semi-final performances shook out and see who might be making it to next week’s finale, then, shall we?

Andrew Sevener (Team Blake): “Long Haired Country Boy” by Charlie Daniels

Kicking off the evening is Andrew Sevener with an energetic, but measured country anthem that shows off his reliable husky rasp. Apart from the lack of trills, his voice here is somewhat reminiscent of the true twang of last year’s winner, Chevel Shepherd, for its pure down-home appeal. Even host Carson Daly has to offer a rare compliment to his showcase by saying, “you can always tell someone does a good job when it feels like you’re watching them at their own concert.” Meanwhile, coach Blake Shelton says that it’s his “authentic[ity]” which stands out

Kim Cherry (Team Blake) and Shawn Sounds (Team John): “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles

Both of these singers want to lay bare the darker undertones of this song, which is smart. By shedding the busy instrumentals of the original, they each get to lean into their soulful sounds, and they’re a surprisingly good match. We’ve heard Kim Cherry sing before, but this is the first time we’re hearing her rely exclusively on that part of the talents, particularly outside of that ’90s throwback scene which has been her hallmark on this show. Her range is impressive and shows that she can step out of her comfort zone and do just fine here. Meanwhile, Shawn Sounds’ vocals are as smooth and stylish as ever, which makes this a delightful, albeit somber duet.

Gyth Rigdon (Team Blake): “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood

If Blake Shelton is right that this song has never been performed on The Voice before, then that’s quite a missed opportunity by country contestants past because there’s something organically alluring about this patriotic anthem that is instant feels fodder for audiences at home. Perhaps it’s best that only Gyth Rigdon has dared to do it because he’s got a tinge of reedy sharpness that, combined with his drawl, makes this a perfect match for his tones. Kelly Clarkson isn’t blown away by the execution, citing some struggles with the “sustained notes,” and John Legend agrees it wasn’t his “best vocal performance” of the season. However, his own coach dismisses their criticism as mere competitiveness and says, “welcome to the finale.”

Kim Cherry (Team Blake): “Together Again” by Janet Jackson

Of her song selection, Kim Cherry says that this one is meant to show that she’s a “singer first,” but she also wants to expose some of the vulnerability beneath that self-assuredness. Thanks to a personalized video from the members of TLC, though, she’s still got a lot of confidence coming into this thing, and her performance has the same vigor and enthusiasm for the era as she’s always had. It’s not quite as vocally rounded as her earlier duet, but it’s still important to hear what she can do at the mic without spitting rhymes, since she’s already proven how fun she is in that zone.

Rod Stokes (Team Blake) and Maelyn Jarmon (Team John): “Yesterday” by The Beatles

These two are a surprisingly nice pairing because, frankly, it’s been hard to imagine anyone who could share the stage with Maelyn Jarmon and hold their own. Yet, her crystalline tones are contrasted and complemented by his warm scratchiness, and Rod Stokes has a fearless composure to make it work. The two don’t bother to harmonize much during their duet and instead trade the chances to stand out, which means this doesn’t feel clunky or forced. While there’s no doubt that Maelyn is a complete pro and has a vocal elegance and range that cannot be taught, Rod is no slouch and isn’t afraid to play to his own strengths.

Carter Lloyd Horne (Team Blake): “Take Me to Church” by Hozier

It’s understandable why Carter Lloyd Horne’s fans might’ve thought this number would be a good match for him, given his deep, growly tones, but in practice, this was a major misstep. It didn’t help that he fumbled to find the right octave and pace in the intro, but he also struggled with the chorus and the energy of this anthem, which makes the song seem way too heavy for him to carry at this crucial time.

Rod Stokes (Team Kelly): “Go Rest High on that Mountain” by Vince Gill

In theory, this song selection makes a lot of sense for Rod Stokes. He’s got that wholesome, emotionally evocative appeal that should mesh well with such a gutting piece of music. However, the performance is surprisingly hollow and off-key at crucial times and shows off almost none of the qualities that make him an interesting member of this competition. As a result, even his own coach is left complimenting his ability to “move people,” instead of his technical prowess.

Dexter Roberts (Team Blake) and Gyth Rigdon (Team Blake): “Hey Jude” by The Beatles

Both of these singers come in with a lot of respect for the nuances of this song, and the playful recording studio-styling of their stage set here is a refreshing indicator of that. Also, they each might be country artists but acclimate quite nicely to this vintage pop-rock aesthetic and seem to be having a lot of fun with it. Dexter Roberts’ vocals in particular seem to stand out in the beginning, but they’re both strong here.

Maelyn Jarmon (Team John): “Stay” by Rihanna

At this point, it’s pretty clear that The Voice Season 16 is Maelyn Jarmon’s to lose. No one else has the instinct, the gifts, or the precision that she does. Every time she has taken the stage on this show, she’s given a professional performance. Even as she piles on challenges for herself, like with this soul-baring song, she can’t help but give a full-bodied and spirited performance. Here, she offers the full spectrum of her sound — she’s tender in spots and fierce in others — but she still manages to be consistent and remind us that she still has a lot of surprises in store. Adam Levine, who no longer has to pretend otherwise, puts it perfectly when he says, “You definitely should win The Voice. The reason why is very simple. Look at the name of the show. You embody what the show is about, what it has been about, all these seasons. … It seems like you’re the absolute front-runner and the best thing we’ve got so far.”

Andrew Sevener (Team Blake) and Carter Lloyd Horne (Team Blake): “Help!” by The Beatles

It’s not a great sign when the backup singers are the most exciting part of a song, but here we are. Carter Lloyd Horne’s once again phoning in any appearance of joy, and, despite his best efforts, Andrew Sevener gets completely lost amid the busy instruments, too. There’ve been a lot of entertaining, and even elevating duets during this semi-final round, but this is not one of them.

Dexter Roberts (Team Blake): “Here Without You” by 3 Doors Down

The challenge at this point for Dexter Roberts is to distinguish himself from the rest of the country pack, but this isn’t it. Whereas Andrew Sevener has an infectious spirit, and Gyth Rigdon has the unique vocals, Dexter Roberts is a much simpler singer, and this piece is doing him no favors. Not only is this delivery repetitive, but he doesn’t offer much in the way of inflection or originality, so what we’re left with is a middling rendition. Blake Shelton love his “cut[ting]” country voice and how he “attack[s]” the song, but this wasn’t his most impassioned or interesting performance, not by a long shot. Maybe he shouldn’t just done the acoustic version Blake talked about.

Shawn Sounds (Team John): “A Song for You” by Donny Hathaway

Closing out the show is Shawn Sounds, who has certainly proven his mettle in recent weeks, with a fluid classicism that’s impossible to overlook. His tones are appealing much in the same way that his coach John Legend’s are; they’re strong without being aggressive and soft without being flimsy. He’s particularly strong in the lower register, and the coaches are left praising him as one of the best singers left in the show right now.  

PREDICTIONS:

At the eliminations, we can expect the top three to advance by vote, the bottom two to be sent home, and three others to sing for a chance at the fourth spot, earned by way of the instant save vote. So, here are some thoughts on where our Top 8 might land in that arrangement.

  • Maelyn Jarmon will be voted through, easily.
  • Gyth Rigdon will probably sail through as well.
  • Shawn Sounds will either get voted through or have a shot at the instant save.
  • Either Andrew Sevener or Dexter Roberts will get to try for the instant save, but not both.
  • Kim Cherry has also defied the odds, so she could get the fourth spot, but she’ll probably have to sing for it in the instant save.
  • Rod Stokes is a wildcard but could go home.
  • Carter Lloyd Horne will definitely go home.

TEAM STANDINGS:

Adam Levine (0):

Kelly Clarkson (1): Rod Stokes

John Legend (2): Maelyn Jarmon, Shawn Sounds

Blake Shelton (5): Gyth Rigdon, Kim Cherry, Carter Lloyd Horne, Dexter Roberts, Andrew Sevener

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A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.
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  • 15
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  • 04/26/11
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