The performances grow in scale (and sparkle) as the Top 8 perform hits both new and old

By Samantha Highfill
April 14, 2015 at 10:26 PM EDT
Trae Patton/NBC
S4 E20
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It’s Memorial Day on The Voice, which means we’re in for two things: Lots of sparkles and lots of country music! Kicking off the evening is the CMA Male Vocalist of the Year, or as Carson puts it, the “rarely sober national treasure” Blake Shelton, who performs his very, very country new single, “Boys Round Here,” in which he sings about chewing tobacco, spitting, trucks, and more.

But before we jump into the other performances of the night, I have to give a quick shout-out to the many behind-the-scenes members of The Voice crew, because tonight is full of amazing hair, amazing wardrobes, and even more amazing sets. There was a fire on stage for goodness sake. A fire. Can you imagine if the A/C had gone out again? Usher would’ve been completely shirtless. Maybe next time. Okay, okay, let’s talk about the Top 8!

TEAM ADAM: JUDITH HILL

The song: “#thatPOWER” by will.i.am featuring Justin Bieber

The performance: Kicking off a very shiny night, Judith’s performance is quite the production. Between her hair, her sparkly silver feather-cape, and the platform she’s on, I’m already excited for what’s to come. By the end of it, I’ve decided that Judith defines cool. I love the soulful rendition of the current hit, and I also love that she’s 100 percent at home on that stage. The girl knows who she is, and that makes watching her so enjoyable.

The feedback: Blake thinks her singing was spot-on, her hair is badass, and he loves her personality. Usher thinks it was an incredible way to open the show, and enjoys hearing about Judith’s philanthropic “heart work.” Shakira says she is a strong vocalist with a great sense of style, and she loved seeing her do something more current. Adam enjoys her power and watching her not as a contestant but as an artist.

TEAM BLAKE: HOLLY TUCKER

The song: “Done” by The Band Perry

The performance: With a new hairstyle and some shiny cowboy boots, Holly hits the stage with a “woo!” that gets me very excited for a feisty performance from the country artist. And I’m only a little disappointed in the end result. I love the song choice, and I think Holly is strong vocally. Although it’s my favorite Holly performance thus far, I’m left feeling like it could’ve used just a little more personality or something behind it. I’m not convinced by her sass. I’m also not sure what kind of music she wants to do within the realm of country.

The feedback: Before Usher can offer a critique, Carson makes a comment on his “Team Chamuel” glasses by calling Usher “Urkel.” The result is my favorite line of the night, by Ursher himself: “I know you’re not talking, Jimmy Neutron.” Touché, Usher. Touché. Sorry, back to business: Usher and Shakira both want Holly’s boots, and they both also agree that she is an incredible singer. Adam, still not over the Jimmy Neutron line, tells Carson that he “got served,” but does admit that he’s always impressed with Holly’s range and enjoyed seeing her aggressive side. Blake just loves Holly and thinks she chewed up that song and spit it out — “Meet Holly Tucker, everybody.”

NEXT: Are The Swon Brothers a “modern-day Eagles?”

Our first stint with Christina Milian in the skybox results in baby photos of contestants and Usher, who was rocking red shoes even back then. Also, everyone say hello to Christina’s breasts.

Back down on stage, Judith, Michelle, Sarah, and Sasha join together for a diamond-encrusted performance of (fittingly) Rihanna’s “Diamonds.” Vocally, they all sound good. That being said, I think Sasha’s a little too overpowering for a group performance. Anyone care to disagree?

TEAM BLAKE: THE SWON BROTHERS

The song: “Seven Bridges Road” by The Eagles

The performance: The only duo to make it this far in the competition, these boys — or  rather, one boy and one man — have something to prove. So why not try something a little more bluegrass than usual with crazy harmonies, right? Sure, why not? As a result, the performance is solid. I like how they start off a cappella, but I do have a question: What’s with the back-up singers? If Blake is going to call you a “modern-day Eagles,” I need you to prove it on your own. But overall, it’s a very sweet performance for their home state of Oklahoma.

The feedback: Usher thinks that The Eagles would be happy with the performance, and Shakira compliments their harmonies. Adam, despite being a huge fan, gets picky and mentions a couple moments that scared him but then apologizes for being overly picky. Blake loves salmon-colored shirts and watching The Swon Brothers continue to grow.

Brief break: It’s Holly’s grandpa’s 79th birthday! And, more importantly, now we know where she got the “woo!” from!

TEAM SHAKIRA: SASHA ALLEN

The song: “Without You” by David Guetta featuring Usher

The performance: With her amazing hair, Sasha sings this song for her family back home. Featuring dancers and a few hip bumps, the performance is lacking for me. I really love Sasha as a person, and I get that she’s crazy talented vocally, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m watching a Broadway performance. That’s not an insult to her voice; I’m just not sure she has a radio-ready voice for a song like this.

The feedback: Adam basically talks about how much he loves Shakira, and Blake comes to the realization that he shouldn’t compare his vocal abilities to Sasha’s. Usher congratulates Sasha on another great performance, and Shakira brags about how her final contestant is the whole package.

NEXT: Sarah Simmons gets emotional

TEAM ADAM: SARAH SIMMONS

The song: “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye

The performance: As much as I wanted Sarah to sing Adele this week, I’m excited to hear her unique voice on this huge hit. Although it’s not her best performance, I really enjoy watching Sarah get lost in her songs. She looks like she’s about to cry through everything the judges are saying, just boiling over with emotion after that performance. And vocally, I think her voice is so, so cool.

The feedback: Blake still can’t get over all the different sides to Sarah’s voice, and Shakira thinks Sarah is a very interesting artist. Usher says the performance is spot-on and claims he enjoyed seeing a “different texture,” before mentioning that she gave an “incredible effort” and talking about how he can be picky about flats and sharps. So wait, is he talking about tonight’s performance or just being critical of her in the past? If you want to critique her, go ahead, but make sure we know what you’re saying. Moving on, Adam thinks Sarah can do anything, and after debating cursing on television, he admits that she kicked ass last week. He thinks it’s impossible not to love Sarah and claims that no one has done that song correctly until tonight. You guys, I am shipping Adam and Sarah so hard right now. SO hard.

Group performance: Country singers Danielle, Holly, Amber, and The Swon Brothers put on a lot of denim and take the stage to perform “Something More” by Sugarland. Does anyone else find it funny that the all-country Team Blake is out-performed by Team Adam’s Amber?

TEAM USHER: MICHELLE CHAMUEL

The song: “Grenade” by Bruno Mars

The performance: It’s the return of the mirror! Yay! Also, it’s the return of Michelle’s voice. After constantly complaining that I can’t hear her, I’m so excited for Michelle’s stripped-down version of the Bruno Mars hit. And guess what? I’m all about it. If I’m being honest, my only thing is that I don’t feel the song works as a ballad. Yes, it’s about love, but it’s also incredibly angry, and I’m not sure this version gets that across. But I’m a huge fan of the performance overall.

The feedback: After the crowd finally quiets down (Chamuel Army!), Shakira calls the performance “spectacular.” Adam thinks it was so awesome for so many reasons, a big one being the production itself. He thinks it’s one of the best of the night. Blake thinks it was Michelle’s best so far, and Usher thinks Michelle represents true inner beauty. Then she takes off her glasses (just as he put his on)!

NEXT: It’s the battle of the country prodigies!

TEAM BLAKE: DANIELLE BRADBERY

The song: “Grandpa” by The Judds

The performance: Sitting on a front porch in her shiny red cowboy boots for this performance, it’s painfully obvious that Blake is trying to age Danielle after letting her youthful side show last week. Vocally, Danielle is effortless and on-target as always. But I am bored. I need something more from this girl than good vocals. I mean, I’m really bored, guys. Am I just a hater of front porch swings, or do you agree with me?

The feedback: Usher loves yet another pair of red shoes but also mentions that Danielle is a “prodigy.” Shakira says she is sweet and believable, and Adam thinks she is an incredible country artist waiting to be born. Then, with the second-best line of the night, Adam adds, “It’s cool that you sang a song about Blake.” Blake, still laughing from Adam’s joke, thinks that anybody with ears knows just how amazing Danielle is. Yes, and anybody with eyes knows how boring she is. Maybe that’s too harsh, but I want more!!

TEAM ADAM: AMBER CARRINGTON

The song: “Skyfall” by Adele

The performance: As much as this song choice scared me originally, I am all about Amber. I think that the Amber we met in week one is finally back and stealing the show once again. My colleague Adam Carlson and I pegged Amber as the one to beat back in the day, but since then, she’s been fading into the background… until she slipped on that killer dress for this amazing performance. I mean, the girl can sang.

The feedback: Blake thinks she stole the “diva powerhouse vocal of the night,” and Usher gives her the biggest compliment of the night by jokingly calling her “Adele.” Shakira loved the high notes, and Adam thinks that Amber is the first person on the show to do an Adele song justice. He thinks Amber can literally do anything.

And that’s a wrap on the Memorial Day, super-duper sparkly episode of The Voice! Which performance was your favorite? Who’s in danger of going home? And do you agree that Danielle is a prodigy? Was tonight Amber’s night? How much did you love Judith’s hair? More importantly, what is it going to take to get all four of these judges on their feet?! We still haven’t had any standing ovations yet.

Tune in tomorrow night to to see Sheryl Crow hit the stage along with other shenanigans which will undoubtedly involved at least one pair of cowboy boots.

Samantha on Twitter: @samhighfill

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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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