The Voice recap: Ariana Grande dons Jennifer Garner's 13 Going on 30 dress as the Top 20 go live
We're live, baby. After Blinds and Battles and Knockouts and so many cheers to Kelly Clarkson saying "navigate," we've arrived at the season 21 Live Playoffs. But, I'm sorry, I know we have a ton of performances to get to — so many performances! — but all I can focus on is the fact that Ariana Grande rolled up to her first live show in full-out Jenna Rink (Jennifer Garner) from 13 Going on 30 cosplay. It is truly inspired.
Anyway, I guess we should talk about the singing? All Top 20 artists will be singing to survive another week and if you're a long-time Voice fan, you know how fast and furious this evening can get. You also know that the spots to move forward are limited. Tomorrow night, the top two vote-getters from each team will move forward and then each coach will be able to save one remaining artist from their team. The person remaining on each team with the most votes will compete for one final wildcard spot. Plus, this season, they'll be joined by one Comeback Artist — but we'll get into that tomorrow night. For now, let's see how our Top 20 handles the pressure of live television.
Girl Named Tom, "Creep" by Radiohead
What an unexpected song choice for our folksy family trio, huh? Girl Named Tom is playing to win, people. They've always been technically on-point throughout this competition, but this is the first time they've given me chills from the emotional connection. Are the Live Playoffs making me soft? Don't answer that. Coach Kelly calls them her "unicorn" and their performance tonight backs that up. Both Kelly and John Legend once again praise Girl Named Tom's unbeatable blend and their ability to nail the intricacies of this song. There's no way this trio isn't making it through to the top 13.
Katie Rae, "Stormy Weather" by Ethel Waters
Okay, so Katie Rae, one of Kelly's steals, is going with an old standard for her big live debut. Katie has constantly been praised for her tone and rasp and she is certainly one of the most consistent performers in this Top 20. Her former coach, Ariana Grande, thinks Katie Rae is just "getting better and better" and thought this was her best performance yet. Coach Kelly calls Katie Rae's voice "insane," and is especially thrilled with the combination of soul and storytelling Katie Rae has.
Gymani, "Say Something" by A Great Big World
Gymani is so freaking versatile as a singer — she really can take on any genre. She's great here on this big pop ballad from the get-go but holy hell does she really know how to build to a great ending here. She's another shoo-in on Kelly's team moving forward. Kelly's in tears afterward, so proud that Gymani not only nailed this performance but that she used the opportunity to show off a "softer" and more "intimate" side to her voice.
Jeremy Rosado, "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars
People love Jeremy Rosado not just for his warm, clear vocals, but for his heart. After his take on this Bruno Mars song, John Legend says as much, telling him that his ability to sing with so much heart and spirit paired with a range like his is "stunning." Kelly calls it her favorite performance of his on the show thus far and aside from his range and runs, she thinks Jeremy is a top-notch storyteller.
Hailey Mia, "traitor" by Olivia Rodrigo
This is an excellent song choice for Hailey Mia, not just because it allows her to show off so many facets of her voice — her chest voice, head voice, her vibrato — but also because it is just oozing with teenage angst, and in case you forgot, Hailey Mia here just turned 14 years old. Ariana Grande thinks Hailey has never sounded better and loves seeing her growth on this stage. Kelly Clarkson can't imagine there aren't record executives watching this and getting ready to give Hailey a call — Kelly is sure Hailey has all the goods.
Shadale, "Love on the Brain" by Rihanna
Shadale kicks it off for Team Legend and she's coming in, according to Blake Shelton, as "the breakout artist" of the Knockouts. She doesn't disappoint. She knows exactly how to maneuver through this song, taking us on a ride from beginning to end. Blake thinks she's the first person he's seen "that has clearly come here tonight to win this damn thing." Proud coach Legend calls it a "tour de force" and praises her confidence in both her vocals and performance.
Joshua Vacanti, "You and I" by Lady Gaga
Joshua Vacanti can put on a show. He knows how to work the song and the crowd to his advantage. This is one of the biggest surprises of the night thus far. John — who wisely used his block to stop Ariana from grabbing Joshua in the Blinds — applauds the way Joshua always sings with intention and theatricality. "Your voice is stunning," he says.
Jershika Maple, "Beggin'" by Madcon
I mean, I think we can all go home now? Jershika Maple walks out on the Live Playoffs stage and just lays this one down with such ease. By the end of the performance, which just builds and builds, all four coaches are on their feet. Kelly, who cut her from her team in the Battles only for Jershika to land on Team Legend, knows she made an error and John is now reaping the benefits. "I'm so happy for me too," he says after Jershika's performance, which he loves for many reasons, but definitely because of how she "walk[s] with purpose" and knows exactly what she's doing both in her vocal and performance choices.
Samuel Harness, "So Sick" by Ne-Yo
This isn't my favorite of Samuel's song choices on the show but his voice is so good, I don't really care. Okay fine, I care a little. He's had some really emotional and poignant performances thus far, but this one misses a bit. Still, that tone of his cannot be beaten and I'd be surprised if this derails him too much. John loves how much Samuel can make songs his own, and that's thanks to the personality and character in his voice that he infuses into every performance.
David Vogel, "Slow Burn" by Kacey Musgraves
David Vogel continues his trend of taking songs by female vocalists and giving them a harder rock edge with this Kacey Musgraves cover. It's not as effective as some of his earlier attempts with this formula, but as the coaches point out, he's certainly a professional up there on stage. Both Ariana and John can tell David is meant to be a musician and he brings real artistry to the stage every time he performs.
Raquel Trinidad, "Don't Know Why" by Norah Jones
Thus far, Raquel Trinidad has been known for her upbeat soul performances and the light and joy she brings to the stage. For the Live Playoffs, Raquel wants to show off a softer, more vulnerable side to her voice. It's a good strategy in theory, but it's not the best vocal. Still, Kelly praises Raquel's artistry and ability to make that song her own. Coach Grande calls both Raquel's talent and the growth she's shown on this show as a vocal technician "incredible."
Jim and Sasha Allen, "Hey Jude" by the Beatles
This father and son duo hasn't gotten a ton of screen time this season and Girl Named Tom pretty much steals the show when it comes to family harmonies, but there is something charming about these two. This is a big, unbelievably recognizable song to take on and it doesn't really help them stand out among the other 19 performances, but still, Ariana loves how much confidence they display on stage, especially young Sasha who goes full rock star with a new edge to his voice he hasn't shown us before.
Bella DeNapoli, "The Sweet Escape" by Gwen Stefani ft. Akon
I'm sorry, when did Bella DeNapoli become a full-on pop star? She owns this entire song. So much so that Blake tells her he's pretty sure his wife Gwen Stefani and Akon are "probably gonna have to add [Bella] to the copyright." Coach Grande is proud not just for the vocal performance, which she calls "phenomenal" but also because she thinks Bella has "such a clear sense of artistry" and a real "point of view." She calls her "the perfect pop star."
Ryleigh Plank, "I'm Your Baby Tonight" by Whitney Houston
Ariana calls Ryleigh Plank her "powerhouse rock star vocal olympian" which is a huge reputation to live up to! This is a tough song to tackle and although Ryleigh has proved before that she has control over her huge range, this isn't her best vocal. She knows how to work the stage though, that's for sure. She exudes confidence. Ariana calls out the amount of work she knows Ryleigh puts into everything she does and makes sure she knows she thinks Ryleigh is simply "phenomenal."
Holly Forbes, "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia
I'm crying sir, I'm crying. Maybe I'm giving away my specific age range here but this song choice is perfect and more people should be singing Natalie Imbruglia on competition shows. Of course, Holly Forbes knows exactly how to make this song her own — she makes some really interesting vocal choices throughout and is so emotionally connected. We are stirred, okay? Again, Kelly is lamenting letting a vocalist go only to bring it home for another team. "That was a brilliant song choice and you sang the hell out of it," Ariana tells Holly.
Peedy Chavis, "Proud Mary" by John Fogerty (Tina Turner Version)
If you remember one thing from this performance remember that Peedy Chavis commits. He's got the Elvis look down for these Live Playoffs and he really goes for it with this song. It's maybe not the best song choice for him, but he's putting on a show regardless. John praises Peedy's energy, his star power, and the fact that he so effortlessly is a "presence on this stage." Coach Blake reveals his own mother said she was voting for Peedy before she even saw the performance. So maybe remember that, too: Moms love Peedy Chavis!
Libianca, "Woman" by Doja Cat
It's so nice to see how much Blake loves and supports his team. His music and Libianca's might be worlds away, but he won't stop praising her for not just her vocal ability, but for the fact that she pours all of her emotions into any song she's singing. And if she can't find that emotional connection — even in a more uptempo song like Doja Cat's "Woman" — then she wouldn't be performing it. Blake has a few people on his team who stand out a little more tonight, but he loves her authenticity.
Paris Winningham, "I Wish It Would Rain" by the Temptations
Paris Winningham is the newest addition to Team Blake — he wholeheartedly thanks John for that gift — but it seems he has a real shot at making it into the Top 13. He seems like a seasoned pro up there taking on this classic Motown hit. He has such confidence and he knows he doesn't need to push it to make an impact. It's smooth and powerful in all the right places. All four coaches give Paris a standing ovation and Kelly can't help but throw her shoes at him. Both shoes!
Lana Scott, "Next Girl" by Carly Pearce
It seems wild but it's true: Lana Scott is the last remaining full-on country artist of the season. As Blake points out, that lane is wide open for her to take advantage of. On top of that, Lana Scott has such a modern and interesting country sound, it's refreshing. "We need you in country music right now," Blake tells his artist. It would be surprising if she wasn't one of the three of Blake's team members to move on to the next round tomorrow night.
Wendy Moten, "I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton (Whitney Houston version)
And Wendy Moten continues her march toward The Voice season 21 finale. It would be a travesty if she's not in the mix, and even Kelly says so. Although, I'm a little surprised Wendy hasn't leaned into her country background a little bit more by now. I'm not complaining — she nails the Whitney Houston version of this ballad with ease, it's no wonder she got the coveted last spot of the evening. And in another great moment of Blake really repping for his team, he tells Wendy that in all of his 21 seasons on this show, "there's no one that I want this more for, ever, than you." That's so nice!
- The Voice recap: Ed Sheeran joins season 21 as the Knockouts Mega-Mentor
- The Voice recap: Blake Shelton has the last steal on the final night of the Battles
- The Voice recap: Kelly Clarkson is shocked by a few coach selections
- How Ariana Grande is shaking up the Voice