The Voice recap: Top 8 compete for a finale spot with solo performances and '80s duets
We are one week out from crowning the season 17 champion of The Voice and this week’s semi-finals feature the cruelest of cuts. Only four artists will be moving on to the finals, which means half of our contestants will be eliminated — everything is on the line tonight! Each artist will have two chances to win over voters: They’ll each perform solo and then pair up to perform an iconic ’80s song. Every performance counts. Let’s get into it!
Team Legend: Katie Kadan, “Lady Marmalade”
The pressure is on, John Legend tells Katie, so he wants her to do one final “badass song” ahead of the final, so Katie taking on this iconic Patti LaBelle song fits that bill. John helps Katie strip down the arrangement to make it a little more intimate, but not much really needs to be done for her to completely crush this. It was made for her voice. The range! The belting! The showmanship! It all works in Katie’s favor. “I think you won a Grammy and Tony during that,” our intrepid host Carson Daly tells Katie as he tries to calm down the studio post-performance. It’s Gwen’s favorite performance, but not because of the vocal, for the way she commands the stage. Coach Legend tells her that they don’t deserve her on this show. That’s one way to kick off the semi-finals!
Team Blake: Kat Hammock, “Somewhere Only We Know”
Kat’s whole life was upended when Blake took her under his wing in the Blind Auditions but in the very best way. Even here in the semi-finals, the Kat-Blake partnership remains surprisingly great as he pushes her to use more of her full voice in this performance of Keane’s hit song. It’s a nice change! I mean, mostly I’m just watching the ballerinas flanking that giant moon on stage during this performance — I love this staging but miss Kat’s simple “just a girl and her piano” performances — but yeah, sure, Blake gives good advice! Gwen Stefani celebrates Kat’s “unique point of view on melody” and her boyfriend Blake Shelton tells her it was easily her most powerful vocal of the season. He also tells her that regardless of how this shakes out, he’s “not going anywhere” and making sure Kat makes records is his mission. How sweet!
Ricky Duran & Will Breman, “Your Love”
The two rockers are paired up for a big ’80s duet, and that means we’re all girding our loins for some big-time energy. I mean that in a great way! This song actually suits both of them individually so, so well and now I wish one of them had done it as a solo somewhere along the way. I guess then we’d miss out on the guitar riff-off, which I’m a fan of (controversial take for a show called The Voice, I know).
Team Legend: Marybeth Byrd, “Before He Cheats”
No one, including John Legend, can believe that Marybeth was in the bottom three last week. A travesty! John thinks it might be because they’ve gotten too far away from country. To fix that, Marybeth is taking on Carrie Underwood’s country anthem. Bring on the sass! BRING ON THE ANGER. Okay, so it’s not the most believable anger, nor the best vocals we’ve seen from her — you can really see her pushing here — but there are moments when it’s great. You’re probably going to need more than just moments to grab one of the four finale spots, but one never knows! Blake Shelton commends her for her versatility and her own coach loves seeing the “fire” being so close to elimination has lit under her.
Team Kelly: Hello Sunday, “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing”
Last week, the girls took on their most emotional song to-date and for the semi-finals, they’re following up their Demi Lovato weeper with their most challenging vocal: a Stevie Wonder jam! Even Kelly “Kellyoke” Clarkson does not want to cover this song. The risk pays off — this is the Hello Sunday I’m most interested in. It’s so joyful! There is choreography! We are living. John Legend loves how much the girls seem to push each other to be better, that they’re using their competitive nature for good and not evil. Kelly Clarkson remains a proud mama, and calls it the “perfect song [at the] perfect time.” Could this little duo clinch a spot in the finale thanks to Stevie Wonder?
Marybeth Byrd & Jake Hoot, “Up Where We Belong”
I am here for this ’80s pairing! Marybeth and Jake feel a connection from their Southern heritage, and yes, their country twangs will sound great, but they also match up so well with clarity and power. There’s not a ton of chemistry — Ricky and Will were easily more electric together — but they both tackle this huge number well. And that harmony to end things? Yes, please and thank you.
Team Blake: Ricky Duran, “Let It Be”
Blake reminds his soul rocker that the semi-finals are the toughest cut of the show, but, like, no pressure. Ricky’s not messing around, so he’s picking a song with a ton of meaning: Since his father passed, “Let It Be,” one of his dad’s favorites, has become a family anthem. He’ll need to pull from that emotion to make this song — covered so often — his own. Ricky changes things up by starting on the piano before moving to the guitar, and I get why he moved to his signature instrument, but a full piano performance would’ve been killer. Blake Shelton is proud that Ricky showed off a whole new level of his vocal ability: “You just gave the vocal performance of your life,” he tells him. A true confidence booster!
Team Legend: Will Breman, “Locked Out of Heaven”
Will is still in disbelief that he’s made it all the way to the semi-finals in this competition, although after last week’s showstopper, he shouldn’t be. This week, John Legend wants his artist to get back into the soul-rock sweet spot, which brings them to this Bruno Mars tune. It’s hard to follow up what Will did last week, but he does so by throwing another Will Breman concert, this time running through the crowd, singing to “a few honeys” in the audience (please, never make me write that phrase again), and even singing the line “your sex takes me to paradise” directly to Blake Shelton. I mean, this is Will. We all know John Legend is a big fan, and he’s been having a blast working with him. “Don’t you want to see him next week, America?” he asks.
Rose Short & Katie Kadan, “Express Yourself”
As if either of these ladies could be paired up with anyone else — no one can match their power or performance value — and on Madonna’s “Express Yourself?” FORGET IT. This is a true dream duet. Aside from delivering the excellent vocals we’ve come to expect from both, they look like they’re having a gosh dang ball up there together.
Kat Hammock & Hello Sunday, “We Belong”
It’s a trio! They’re workshopping a name: Sunday and a Hammock becomes Hello Hammock. Try not to be offended by the fact that none of these girls were alive during the ’80s nor seem to have any interest in the decade. Their voices surprisingly blend well together and Kat continues to show off her full voice, and she’s the clear standout in this grouping.
Team Gwen: Rose Short, “I Want to Know What Love Is”
Rose Short is Gwen Stefani’s final team member and to take a spot in the finale (which she deserves), Rose continues to show her versatility, going from Blake Shelton’s “God’s Country” last week to this Foreigner power ballad. Gwen encourages Rose to start off in her lower register and calls it a great “strategic move” for Rose to show some vulnerability in the semi-finals. Gwen Stefani is not wrong! The opening verse makes my cold, dead heart feel feelings again. And then as the song goes on, well, she’s Rose Short, you know how this goes. How this was not a finale performance, I will never know, but it makes me excited for what’s to come. Gwen is sobbing throughout. She is in awe of her artist and can’t even get out how honored she is to work with her before crying again.
Team Kelly: Jake Hoot, “Desperado”
Jake Hoot has selected this Eagles song in honor of his mom (the woman has nine kids, she deserves all the song tributes possible), who is a superfan of the song. In rehearsal, Kelly Clarkson has zero notes for her coveted one-chair turn, who knows exactly how to navigate this song. Jake Hoot has never had an issue picking songs that suit his voice — and ones that will make The Hooters go wild — and this might be the best one yet. John Legend points this out too when he calls him “consistently excellent” before commending him for his effortless high notes. Kelly Clarkson is still in awe of Jake Hoot’s incomparable storytelling abilities. The guy knows how to work a country tune.
It’s honestly hard to believe that we’ll be losing FOUR of these artists tomorrow. Who do you hope to see in the finale?
A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.