The Voice recap: Blake Shelton reunites with a former contestant ahead of the semi-finals
It's a shame The Voice live rounds aren't a little longer because it feels like we're just getting started with the heft of the competition and the finale is already next week! But before we get ahead of ourselves: Tonight, we will be hearing from our Top 9 twice as they sing for five finale spots. First, they'll each sing solos of their choosing and then they'll be put into trios to sing songs celebrating the '70s. Oh, and as a little bonus, season 19 finalist Ian Flanigan will be back to sing his new single with his coach Blake Shelton. That's a lot of music — let's get to it.
Team Legend: Victor Solomon, "I Can Only Imagine" by Tamela Mann
Victor's singing the gospel version of this MercyMe song and his mom, who brought Victor up singing in church, couldn't be happier. He's excited, too, because he gets to show this side of his artistry on stage. As well he should be — he is electric on stage. The coaches all think so, anyway: Kelly Clarkson calls Victor "moving" and "inspiring" and Nick Jonas — who is working with a few cracked ribs tonight after a bike accident this weekend — even manages to get up out of his seat (not easy in his condition!) and calls the performance "a special moment." Victor's coach John Legend loves that Victor showed both his "versatility" and "the full core of who [he is] as an artist."
Team Blake: Jordan Matthew Young, "Rose Colored Glasses" by John Conlee
Wait, Jordan Matthew Young is getting nicknamed "Skinny Thor," and it... is dead on? He picks this song to bring his Voice journey full circle back to his country roots, but Blake doesn't want Jordan to just be country here. He thinks he should continue to blend his soulfulness with this song, too. It's not the most exciting performance, but Jordan and his sensible half-up-half-down hair certainly deliver a professional, connected one. Kelly Clarkson compares him to Travis Tritt, one of her favorites, because of Jordan's cool vibrato and the soulfulness and raspiness that were front and center in that song. Coach Blake is proud, of course, and thinks Jordan did exactly what he needed to as far as the semi-finals go.
Corey Ward, Kenzie Wheeler, and Cam Anthony, "Fooled Around and Fell In Love" by Elvin Bishop
What a wild and weird and kind of wonderful boy band! In the powder blue! I was so charmed by this! It doesn't seem like these three artists could blend together into something cohesive, but the song could easily fit the more soulful voices of Cam and Corey as well as Kenzie's country sound. Corey's big high note is a highlight, but there really isn't one runaway leader in this group. This was fun! Okay, trios!
Team Legend: Pia Renee, "Turn Your Lights Down Low" by Bob Marley and the Wailers
Pia's going back to reggae for her semi-finals performance and she is ready to lay. it. down. Both Kelly and Nick note that it felt like they were watching some already established star, a professional doing "an awards show performance," says Nick. Pia has such confidence and knows how to take us on a ride throughout the song without ever overdoing it. The rap section here is so full of energy and artistry, it's great. Coach John Legend is especially proud and he tells his artist that he "could not stop smiling" throughout because it was, in his mind, a perfect performance. She was "sexy and fiery" and "everything [she] needed to be" at this point in the competition.
Team Nick: Rachel Mac, "Human" by Christina Perri
Rachel's showing up to the finale ready to get emotional, people. In fact, in rehearsal, Nick wants to make sure that the staging of this song doesn't get too theatrical because the vocal will be more than enough. Rachel is fully committed here — plus, her vocals are strong. John Legend calls it a "revelatory performance" because it shows her powerful, rock star side. She gave us the "full range of emotion" with this one, he thinks. Kelly also thought it was smart for Rachel to reveal this side of her voice at this point in the competition, and she loved to see the teen angst coming out — it's easy to forget Rachel is the youngest competitor this season. Rachel's coach Nick applauds his artist for not just nailing the vocal but for "digging deep" emotionally. It's a good moment for Rachel.
Team Kelly: Corey Ward, "Arcade" by Duncan Laurence
Anyone else still riding high from Corey Ward taking the Wild Card spot last week? What a deserved win! He's back this week and ready to work with a song that Kelly thinks feels like a song Corey could've written for himself. And it really does feel like a Corey Ward concert performance here. The song gives him room to show that signature intensity while also displaying his big range throughout. He has big power notes and some smaller, intimate moments. It's a ride! And you know when Kelly Clarkson says your "vocal execution" is "perfect," you're doing something right.
Dana Monique, Pia Renee, and Victor Solomon, "Shining Star" by Earth, Wind & Fire
The soul singers of the competition are coming together to throw us a little '70s party on stage (I mean, Victor's wig alone!). The trio promises unforgettable harmonies, and, uh, yeah, they deliver those for sure. Everyone sounds great, not surprisingly, and the coaches are loving the whole thing, also not surprising. The final few bars put the perfect punctuation on the whole performance. I'm into these trios, guys.
Team Kelly: Gihanna Zoë, "Reflection" by Christina Aguilera
Coach Kelly Clarkson saved Gihanna last week because she was floored by how much growth and dynamics this 17-year-old has been showing throughout the entirety of the competition. Even with that vote of confidence, Kelly knows Gihanna has given herself a difficult task with this song: It's Christina freakin' Aguilera on a live show with a lot on the line. So, like, no pressure. The arrangement, especially in the beginning, isn't great and there's no room for Gihanna to just settle into the song. She, of course, soars on those big notes and really puts on a show. For someone who tries to be technically perfect all the time, Gihanna gets a little emotional, and therefore a little pitchy, at the end, but that's Kelly's favorite part of the performance. She loves when Gihanna marries her precision with a brokenness in her voice.
Gihanna Zoë, Rachel Mac, and Jordan Matthew Young, "Go Your Own Way" by Fleetwood Mac
It's just the teens and Skinny Thor out there rocking to some Fleetwood Mac. It's a weird mix of vocalists, and although this song seems to be in Jordan's wheelhouse more than anyone's, Gihanna Zoë feels like the standout. I would've never picked a Fleetwood Mac song for her, but now I want to hear more? What a time!
Team Nick: Dana Monique, "Leave the Door Open" by Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic
Nick Jonas saved Dana Monique last week because, well, come on, like he had a choice. She's a force. And now she gets to sing this song that's never been done on The Voice before, and it also happens to be a perfect choice for her. As Nick points out, Dana has similarities with singers like Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan, but also a modern sensibility, and this Bruno jam has a nice blend of classic sounds with modern "flair." Dana puts on a show here. She's a star! John Legend praises her ability as a vocalist and notes that she's been giving them "finale-worthy" performances every time she steps on stage. All the judges give Dana Monique a standing ovation for this one, and Nick Jonas can't believe she could top her En Vogue performance, but for him, this one did just that.
Team Blake: Cam Anthony, "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" by Boyz II Men
Like Gihanna, Cam is taking on a monster of a song in this high-pressure situation. Not only is he going to perform it, but he's also making it even more difficult for himself by having no band to hide behind. This is Cam's voice front and center. What Blake loves most about his artist's choice, though, is that yes, it's an iconic song, but Cam is making it sound like one of his own. It's full of runs and riffs, but Cam makes it all look so easy. The coaches give Cam a standing ovation. John Legend says he "knock[ed] it out of the park" and calls him a "superstar." Kelly calls him "incredible." We already know that Blake thinks Cam can conquer the music industry, but he doubles down on his predictions for Cam's bright future after this performance.
Team Kelly: Kenzie Wheeler, "He Stopped Loving Her Today" by George Jones
This one's going out to Kenzie's grandma who absolutely loves this song. It works out because Kelly Clarkson calls it the "perfect song for [him]." It's super classic country and even though that spoken word bit in the middle is a bit cheeseball, there are a lot of moments for Kenzie to show off the power behind his tone — a tone that his coach Kelly is obsessed with. But more than a fan of Kenzie's on this show, Kelly wants Kenzie to know that he is "one of [her] favorite country singers that ever existed." That's a huge compliment!
With only the highest vote getter from each team ensured a spot in the Final Five (the fifth spot will be another Wild Card Instant Save), a lot of this is out of the contestants' hands, but who do you think did enough to win a finale slot tonight?