The Top Five visit hometowns and the coaches pull out all the stops to see who will make it to next week's finale

By Samantha Highfill
April 14, 2015 at 10:23 PM EDT
Trae Patton/NBC
S4 E24
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Subtlety died tonight, y’all. And I’m loving it. In the final week before the season four finale, nobody’s backing down. Each of the Top Five contestants is heading home for a bit, recharging and remembering why they’re here in the first place. Combine that with the tenacity of the coaches and the amazing talents of the set builders, and we’ve got quite a show. And, might I just add, the least country-filled show we’ve had in a while.

Here’s the lowdown: Each contestant is performing two songs, one they picked and one their coach picked. For the song they picked, they get to dedicate that song to someone special. Tonight, we don’t get to see the rehearsals or the surprise appearances by Taylor Swift. Instead, we get to learn a little bit more about the contestants by understanding to whom they have dedicated their song. Grab the tissues, and let’s get to it!

Kicking off the performances is the main man of cool himself, Usher. Performing his new song, “Twisted,” Usher adds a bit of a retro feel to the stage. Has Justin Timberlake started something here? And how are you feeling about it? Look, I’m all about Usher’s moves, and his busy suit is nothing if not entertaining (though slightly hard to look at), and that mic-stand kick was LEGIT, but I’m not super into this performance. I love a man who can give us three splits in a row, but the song itself isn’t pulling me in. Maybe if I listen to a second time. I’m willing to give Ursher and his shades a second chance to win me over. Third, max. Moving on …

TEAM BLAKE: THE SWON BROTHERS

The song: “Turn the Page” by Bob Seger

The performance: Jumping right into things, The Swon Brothers dedicate this rock hit to all of their bandmates, both past and present. And I have to admit it: I’m really liking this rock vibe they’ve got going on here. They sound much better than they did last week, in my opinion. Plus, they have a bitchin’ drummer, and there are sparklers. Count me in.

The feedback: Usher thinks it was an incredible kick-off for the evening, and Adam is busy waving his arms in a Napoleon Dynamite fashion and inventing the “Swon Salute.” Don’t fool yourself. That thing will catch on no matter how stupid it looks. Blake is blown away by his duo, and he’s proud they have set the bar so high.

Skybox break! Up in the floating social media cave of awkwardness that we all love so much, Tim McGraw has recorded a message wishing Danielle luck on singing one of his songs tonight. But Tim isn’t the only music star with a camera nearby. Katy Perry also says hello to Amber and commends her on choosing to sing one of her most challenging songs in “Firework.” Okay, now it’s back down to Carson who seems to be encased in a cloud of smoke. But don’t worry, he’s not on fire. The smoke is just yet another not-so-subtle move setting up for Sasha’s elaborate performance of a Whitney Houston classic.

NEXT: Sasha sings Whitney; Michelle finds clarity

TEAM SHAKIRA: SASHA ALLEN

The song: “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston

The performance: Sasha dedicates this song to her children before she’s joined on stage by an enormous harp, ridiculous amounts of smoke, and an entire strings section (which is very popular tonight). Her bangs looks amazing, and I love the addition of the fan, but it isn’t my favorite Sasha performance. The beginning is a bit underwhelming, and as a non-fan of Sasha’s vibrato, I knew this song would give me trouble. I think that the end is the best part of her performance, but it’s not something I’ll download.

The feedback: Adam thinks she’s incredible for choosing one of the two hardest songs to sing (think national anthem), and he says she looks like an Angel. Usher believes that Sasha’s amazing voice will keep her here, and Shakira thinks she made Whitney fans proud. Now’s your chance, Whitney fans. What say ye?

*Insert exclusive sneak peek of The Winner Is here, aka the game show that perfectly blends The Voice and Deal or No Deal and actually might entice me enough to tune in.*

TEAM USHER: MICHELLE CHAMUEL

The song: “Clarity” by Zedd

The performance: After a hometown trip to Massachusetts complete with family, bandmates and singing “God Bless America” at Fenway Park, Michelle takes the stage for what I think is one of her least exciting performances yet. Let me start by confessing something: To be fair, this song is my JAM right now. I love it ridiculous amounts, so I’m already probably too harsh of a judge. But Usher’s pick for the night just never quite connects for me. Michelle’s vocals aren’t her best — keep in mind that I love her — and I don’t quite feel the emotional element of the song in her performance.

The feedback: Adam is a broken record of love when it comes to Michelle, and Blake still can’t get over the power of her squatting. But the important thing that Blake and Usher agree on is that Michelle doesn’t seem to screw up. She’s consistent. Do you agree?

TEAM BLAKE: DANIELLE BRADBERY

The song: “Please Remember Me” by Tim McGraw

The performance: Danielle travels on home to Texas for some family time, a quick trip to the high school, and a performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the Houston Astros. Back on The Voice stage, Danielle sings Blake’s pick. As always, her vocals are good. This is another song that I love, so maybe I’m too harsh, but she doesn’t at all portray the emotional element for me. She spends the first half of the song with a big grin on her face. However, once she shuts her eyes, the end of the song is great. Danielle’s vocals are amazing, but this performance doesn’t excite me like I want it to. Go ahead, tell me how wrong I am. I can take it.

The feedback: Usher and Adam think Danielle is “amaze balls,” particularly considering her age. Adam think that she is technically perfect (which I’m not arguing, by the way), and he too mentions how young she is. Blake loves her perfect pitch and can’t find a single weakness in her singing. He just loves her. I agree that her singing is amazing. Does anyone else see what I’m saying about connecting? It’s not a big issue; I just want more. Someone validate my feelings, please!

NEXT: Fireworks, Loggins, and S.A.S.H.A.

TEAM ADAM: AMBER CARRINGTON

The song: “Firework” by Katy Perry

The performance: Amber dedicates this song to her best friends in Texas in honor of the days they spent singing Katy Perry songs with the windows rolled down in the car. Ah yes, to be young and an amazing vocalist. I know the feeling well. That being said, this sadly isn’t my favorite Amber performance. By the end of it (well hello again, strings section), I can’t say anything bad, because this girl’s vocals are just ridiculous. But it’s not my favorite. That’s all I’ll say. But I do love her voice. Okay, I’m done.

The feedback: Blake says he wasn’t sure he would like it when the song started (it wasn’t country), but he had to give in by the end. Her voice is too freakin’ powerful. Shakira points out just how tough that song is to sing, and Adam says that Katy agrees. She thought he was crazy for letting Amber do this. But in the end, Adam thinks his singer can literally do anything, and that is what makes her the coolest thing.

TEAM BLAKE: THE SWON BROTHERS

The song: “Danny’s Song” by Kenny Loggins

The performance: The two Okies finally get to go home to Muskogee! In the coolest home trip of the night, the brothers receive the Rising Star Award at the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, and then they get an entire week named after them. Question: Can we get that made into a national holiday, where we all get June 9-13 off work to sit back and enjoy life? Here’s to hoping someone very powerful reads this recap.

Back to business: With only a piano, the brothers are able to charm the audience. I am love, love, loving hearing these guys do songs that aren’t as hardcore country. I love how their voices blend on this song, and if I’m being honest with you, they surprised me tonight. They are having a very good night. Now if only they could shush the backup singers just a tad.

The feedback: Usher, who also has his own week — Adam does not — loves a good swoncert, and is excited that these guys are making the world love country. Adam is blown away by this rendition of one of his favorite songs, and Blake thinks this is the Swon Brothers’ biggest night on the show. You know what? I have to agree. Also, why isn’t Shakira getting to talk, like, ever? Carson, you and I might need to have a chat later.

TEAM SHAKIRA: SASHA ALLEN

The song: “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer

The performance: After getting a much needed hug from her daughter back in New York, Sasha (and a huge sparkly structure spelling out her name) takes over the stage with dancing, spanking, and good vocals. I actually like this better than her first performance of the night. She’s clearly having fun, and her voice sounds great. The dancers are a little much, particularly the private sessions for the coaches, but like I said before: Subtlety is dead.

The feedback: So far, Sasha’s is the closest to receiving a full standing ovation with this song, getting Usher to stand alongside Shakira, who thinks that America is watching Sasha turn from a voice to a performer. Adam adds that Sasha is awesome, and Usher calls her “incredible.” P.S. He would like to thank the dancer for his private show. Oh, Usher. That charm is deadly.

NEXT: Tissue time

TEAM BLAKE: DANIELLE BRADBERY

The song: “Who I Am” by Jessica Andrews

The performance: Danielle dedicates this song to her best friend and to her mom, which seems appropriate for her age (Remember! She’s young!). Then, as her life flashes before all of our eyes on the screens behind her (scrapbook-style), Danielle performs another solid vocal. She even enters into the audience and sings directly to her mom. It’s a very sweet moment, and I like this performance better than her first. I also like seeing this toned-down country side of her.

The feedback: Usher says that this performance is why she’s still here, and Shakira thinks she is the cutest thing ever and such a little star. Blake just loves that Danielle is a great person and a true star.

TEAM ADAM: AMBER CARRINGTON

The song: “Sad” by Maroon 5

The performance: This time, it’s Amber’s turn to head down to Texas, where she gets a key to the city of Rockwall, not to mention the fact that June 6 is now Amber Carrington day. Seriously, can I get that day off too? No? Fine. Let’s talk about this performance. Adam gives Amber a Maroon 5 song. This is one of my favorite songs off that record, and I’m obsessed with this performance of it. Amber’s voice brings tears to Adam’s eyes, and I can’t get over how easy she makes it look. I think this is my favorite Amber. I just think it’s such a wonderful song choice. Listen to her. Geez.

The feedback: Blake, after taking a dig at Adam, says he can’t wait to buy Amber’s record and commends her on being such a beautiful emotional singer. Usher is blown away by her performance, and Adam is simply overjoyed by the fact that she sang it so much better than he did.

TEAM USHER: MICHELLE CHAMUEL

The song: “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper

The performance: Michelle chooses to dedicate this song to the man behind the lifted leg — Usher. And if you can look away from the enormous hourglasses and/or shattering clock on the stage, you will hear one of my favorite performances from Michelle. I was a little let down by her first song of the night, which is why I’m so happy that she absolutely kills this one. She gives me the chills, and that’s saying a lot, because I really love Javier Colon’s rendition.

The feedback: Shakira thinks Michelle grows every week and calls her one of her favorites in competition. Apparently, Michelle is in a permanent crescendo? Adam and I are lost. Regardless, Adam thinks Michelle is amazing — broken record, remember? — and Usher says those three words every Voice contestant wants to hear him say: “You’re the winner.” Then he says those two words every woman wants to hear him say: “You’re perfect.” Basically, Michelle is medicine for the whole world, healing everyone to be who they want to be.

All in all, my favorite individual performances go to Amber and Michelle. The best overall night belongs to The Swon Brothers (shocking, I know). Danielle was consistent as always. Sadly, for me, I think it’s Sasha’s time to go home. But what did you guys think? Are the elaborate sets too much or just enough? Why isn’t Shakira getting to give as much criticism anymore? And who stole tonight’s emotional show for you?

Tune in to the results show tomorrow night to see Terry McDermott, Tony Lucca and Nicholas David hit the stage. Plus, we will find out which contestants are heading to the finale. Here’s to hoping Carson gets caught in another smoke cloud. And with that image, I will bid you goodnight!

Samantha on Twitter: @samhighfill

A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.
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