The Voice recap: The Top 9 sing for a spot in the finals
And then there were nine. Season 19 of The Voice marches on as our top nine contestants — including Team Legend's Bailey Rae, who nabbed the wildcard spot last week — sing their hearts out for a chance to make it to the finals. The highest vote-getter on each team will automatically move forward, and then there will be a little Wildcard battle for the fifth and final spot. Each artist will be singing solo, and then, since we don't have time for team songs this season, the top nine will be grouped into three different trios to perform a second time. Let's get to the music.
Team Blake: Jim Ranger // “Without You” by Nilsson
Jim Ranger, the artist Blake Shelton saved last week, is dedicating his Fan Week song to his dad. Blake’s particularly pleased — he’s been waiting “to have an artist dynamic enough” to take on this powerhouse song. For his performance, Jim perches atop a mountain... or some other planet maybe, to perform because, sure why not? It’s 2020 and we all want to get as far away from this place as we can, so I get it. While it’s strange to see Jim without his guitar, Blake’s right: Jim has the chops to pull this off. He was told to be “as dramatic and huge” as he could be and, friends, he follows those orders. The coaches are on their feet. John Legend tells Jim that it was “the best work” he’s done on The Voice and “one of the best we’ve seen this season.” Blake also has rave reviews: “I’m more impressed than maybe I’ve ever been as a coach on this show.” Ya done good, Jim Ranger!
Team Kelly: Cami Clune // “The Joke” by Brandi Carlile
Cami Clune’s dedicating her song to her mom, her best friend, because it’s been hard not to have her here. I already have chills while she’s rehearsing this Brandi Carlile song. This is actually Cami and her Coach Kelly Clarkson’s first time working face-to-face and Kelly gives her newest artist some great advice: She doesn’t want Cami to go big the entire time; she wants her to use that creepy (in a good way!) head voice more because it’s beautiful, sure, but also because it is “specific to her.” It sets Cami apart. She could’ve used more of that in this performance, which technically-speaking isn’t her best. Still, Coach Kelly is a huge fan and is blown away by Cami’s unique way of telling a story through her voice. Cami’s a believable singer and that’s what Kelly wanted to see.
TRIO ONE: Carter Rubin, Desz, and Jim Ranger // “Will It Go Round in Circles” by Billy Preston
This trio isn’t messing around! These are three huge voices teaming up for a big ol’ dance party of a song. They tell us that they just want to “make people feel good inside” and Carter, Desz, and Jim succeed in that endeavor. Carter more than holds his own with two seasoned singers, and Desz, well, when has she ever been less than great? It’s Jim Ranger, however, who feels best suited for this song. His raspy, soulful voice sounds great on it. It’s a good night for Jim Ranger!
Team Gwen: Ben Allen // “All About Tonight” by Blake Shelton
Gwen Stefani so badly wants to win this season with not just a country artist, but a country artist who originally was on Blake Shelton’s team. And now that artist is performing a Blake Shelton song. And hey, it could happen: Ben Allen knows exactly who he is as a performer and does it well. He’s solid and consistent. He’s done some emotional country crooning in the past, but I think I like this fun, party country Ben the best. “I finally like that song,” Carson Daly quips when Ben wraps up. Blake is alternately jealous and blown away, and you can see the excitement just oozing out of Gwen Stefani. Ben, of course, has to duke it out with wunderkind Carter Rubin for Team Gwen’s spot in the finals, so we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out.
Team Legend: John Holiday // “Fix You” by Coldplay
John Holiday’s going to make us cry tonight, isn’t he? As his coach John Legend points out, yes, this song is a pop song, but it’s basically a hymn, too. In rehearsal, John Legend opens up about listening to this song with his wife Chrissy Teigen and just crying through it after the year they've had. He wants John Holiday to stop worrying about being so perfect as a singer and instead, “live in the emotion of the song.” He wants to hear the ache and the break in his voice. The Team Legend artist delivers. It’s a controlled yet emotional performance. John Holiday hits those high notes with ease, but he also shows us the brokenness that his coach asked for. John Legend is in tears afterward and tells his artist in simple words, “we felt it.” No biggie, I’m just gonna go crawl into a dark corner for a few minutes and feel every emotion possible.
TRIO TWO: Tamara Jade, Ian Flanigan, and Ben Allen // “Tulsa Time” by Don Williams
Wait, I kind of love tossing these three distinctly different voices together — especially on an up-tempo country classic. We already know Ben Allen can pull a song like this off and Ian Flanigan only looks a little awkward while trying to groove on stage (his vocals are still great). But it’s Tamara Jade who, not surprisingly, steals the show. It’s hard not to watch her, we know this. We should all be bringing her sequin-skirt-rocking-a-tambourine energy to the end of 2020.
Team Kelly: Desz // “Don’t Let Go (Love)” by En Vogue
I said it before and I’ll say it again: GET DESZ IN THE FINALS. I mean, when she screams with joy she does it with a run. And then she shows up and dedicates this En Vogue banger to anyone struggling with confidence? Come on! In rehearsals, Kelly Clarkson encourages Desz to bring the drama and then promises that Desz is going to remind us all “why she was a four-chair turn.” Kelly Clarkson is not wrong. It’s honestly surprising that this isn’t the closer for the night, it’s power and emotion and yes, drama. John Legend tells Desz that he “loved the higher parts of that performance” and how her voice is “piercing through the music.” The intention mixed with the soul in her voice makes for a “magnificent combination.” Kelly Clarkson calls it her “favorite performance [she’s] ever had on [her] team,” and says that her “goal in life when [she] was a teenager was to sing for vocalists like [Desz].” To call those rave reviews is an understatement.
Team Legend: Bailey Rae // “Georgia on My Mind” by Ray Charles
It’s our Wildcard Winner! Just because Bailey Rae had to fight to make it into the Top 9 doesn’t mean she’s going to take it easy: This is a risky song choice. It’s so well known and packs some real emotion. John Legend loves the choice because, like his and Bailey’s coach/artist relationship, the song brings together country and soul. It’s not Bailey’s best performance, it’s lacking some of the gravitas and emotion the song calls for. Still, Blake Shelton praises Bailey's voice, saying it’s more than just “old school country” — Bailey’s throwback sound is “refreshing and so different for this show.” Coach John Legend praises her for her confidence and tells her he is “so proud” to be her coach. It’s a nice moment!
TRIO THREE: John Holiday, Cami Clune, and Bailey Rae // “Pompeii” by Bastille
This is a confusing song choice for these three singers and it doesn’t really do any of them justice. Their harmonies are incredible though!
Team Blake: Ian Flanigan // “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan
Blake Shelton was looking for a song that could keep Ian in his sweet spot of soft songs for a big voice and it was Kelly Clarkson who suggested “Angel.” That’s why they pay her the big bucks! We’ve all heard “Angel” approximately four bajillion times, but in Ian’s gravelly voice it sounds new. It’s not an electrifying evening-ender or finale performance, but it’s certainly a memorable one. Afterward, Kelly tells him he “could sing anything” and that it was impressive how he took a song we all know and made it sound like there was no way it wasn’t one of his own. A big feat!
Team Legend: Tamara Jade // “Let It Be” by the Beatles
There was no way John Legend was going to let Tamara Jade go last week; she’s a star! For her Top 9 performance, however, Tamara is showing us a new side of herself by taking on this classic, emotional Beatles song. In rehearsal, John wants Tamara to, well, be more Tamara with it. She needs to get loose. In the performance, the first half feels very much like Tamara is holding back, but then she lets it rip. The second half of the song is some of the best work she’s done (okay, I’m still thinking about “Higher Ground,” and I’ll never stop thinking about it). John calls her “an unstoppable force” and applauds her for letting who she is as an artist shine through on this song.
Team Gwen: Carter Rubin // “Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie
Gwen Stefani knows that one of Carter’s biggest strengths is how well he can emotionally connect to a song, so she wanted to find one to highlight that. It’s not a bad move to take on Kermit the Frog’s hit, and almost immediately, Carter has Gwen in tears during rehearsal. She does, however, advise him to make it more pop music and less theatrical, a note that could’ve been taken a little more strongly just to make the whole thing sound more modern. Regardless, it feels repetitive to say, but Carter has an insane amount of technical prowess for a 15-year-old kid. He’s praised for his power most weeks, but here his head voice was the star. Once again, Gwen is a mess and calls Carter “gifted” and “intuitive," saying simply put, she's just “so happy for [him.]”
Well friends, here we are. Who’s getting those final five spots?