The Voice recap: Team Legend artist earns standing ovation as the Top 13 perform
We're down to the Top 13 artists on season 21 of The Voice, and it's time for people to begin separating themselves from the pack. They'll each be singing one song dedicated to someone important in their lives, so the evening is sure to be full of performances packed with emotion and heart — prepare yourself for tears (I'm looking at you, Kelly Clarkson). As always, a lot is on the line tonight because tomorrow, this group of 13 will be cut down to a group of 11. Let's see who does enough to earn the chance to stick around another week.
Team Blake: Paris Winningham, "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye
Paris Winningham is dedicating his Top 13 performance to his grandparents who have passed — the social justice message in "What's Going On" is especially meaningful when it comes to his grandmother who died in 2020. In rehearsals, Blake Shelton can feel the love in Paris's voice, but thinks the song — and the message within it — needs more attack. Although this probably won't be the performance of the night, Paris is so easy to listen to. Blake praises his confidence and John Legend loves that Paris selected a song that shows off both the "smoothness" of his voice and its "power." He doesn't exactly make it his own, as the kids like to say, but he's warm and makes it all look effortless.
Team Kelly: Jeremy Rosado, "Because You Loved Me" by Céline Dion
Jeremy Rosado was maybe the most stunned that he won America's Vote last week, but he isn't slowing down now. The guy's taking on Céline. Céline! He dedicates it to his dad for always supporting him, and that love he has for his dad is apparent in his performance. Jeremy is constantly getting praise for the heart he brings to every performance and that's no different here — his coach Kelly Clarkson is always so impressed by how well he can let people be in and be so vulnerable on stage. There's not a huge "moment" here, but it's a very lovable performance.
Team Ariana: Ryleigh Plank, "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac
Ryleigh Plank has a tall order tonight — she needs to prove that coach Ariana Grande used her save last week wisely. She's showing a different side to her voice with this Fleetwood Mac song that she's dedicating to her sister, Rhiannon (get it?). It feels like Ryleigh's most mature performance to date and begins with a cool, sultry vibe and ends by showing off her power and some intricate runs. She sounds great. Blake loves that the band played the original version of the song but Ryleigh's voice alone gave it a completely different feel. Coach Ariana remains proud and knows Ryleigh deserved that save last week. It's one of her favorite Ryleigh performances from the whole season, she says, and thinks she's "the most in control" of her vocals she's ever been.
Team Kelly: Girl Named Tom, "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas
At this point, Girl Named Tom is gonna Girl Named Tom, you know? This song — a '70s folksy song with lots of room for harmonizing — is very much in our resident trio's wheelhouse. And Coach Kelly isn't wrong when she tells them both in rehearsal and after their performance that they could easily be the first group to win The Voice. It turns out that family harmonies are in their blood: They're dedicating this song to their Grandma Jean, who used to sing as a duo with her sister. They're just pros at what they do at this point. Still, it would be nice to hear them do something a little more upbeat or surprising at some point. Regardless, John Legend calls the whole thing "haunting" and thinks Bekah has never sounded better as a soloist. It was "gorgeous work" all around, he says.
Team Legend: Shadale, "Life Is a Highway" by Rascal Flatts
Speaking of unexpected, Shadale, John Legend's save from last week, is doing the Rascal Flatts version of "Life Is a Highway." In rehearsals, John thinks the song needs a little more, well, life, and so he raises the key to get to a brighter, more energetic performance — and it works. Shadale just wants to rock out and dedicate a song to her parents. She's clearly having so much fun up there and really sells the song. It's not her most memorable performance, but John Legend couldn't be happier to see how committed she was to "the vibe" of that song and that Shadale took the chance to show a different side of herself to the audience.
Team Kelly: Hailey Mia, "I'll Stand By You" by the Pretenders
Hailey Mia beat out four other singers for last week's Instant Save, so she has already proven that people love what she's doing. This week, instead of doing another angsty, soulful song, she's getting a little more angelic and using her head voice more than we've seen thus far as she dedicates this song to her coach, Kelly Clarkson, as a thank you for believing in her so much. It's not as confident as we've seen her before, but John loves "hearing all the textures to [her] voice" and that she's giving us some tender moments. Kelly says she "would be shocked if [Hailey Mia isn't] in the finale." So that's that on that.
Team Blake: Wendy Moten, "Blue Bayou" by Linda Ronstadt
Man, it's really going to be a blow to our collective hearts if Wendy Moten doesn't win this whole thing. This is a much subtler version of Wendy, but even "subtle" with Wendy means there are some pretty amazing moments throughout (plus that final note? Come on). Coach Blake just loves that these smaller things Wendy does are being noted and appreciated. Finesse is being celebrated here and Blake is into it. Ariana simply "can't believe [Wendy's] as big of a secret as [she is.]" "What do you say about that?" she asks when it comes time to "critique" Wendy's performance. It's not the most emotionally stirring, but Wendy remains such a pro.
Team Legend: Jershika Maple, "God Only Knows" by for King & Country
Jershika Maple is dedicating her song to her fourth and fifth-grade teachers who helped her through a learning disability diagnosis and were the first people she encountered who really saw her. She's also using this moment to highlight how important her spiritual life is to her both on and off the stage. Kelly is just, like, sobbing by the end of the performance. In rehearsals, John wants to raise the key, and even so, there are some sections that maybe sound too low. Not that it matters much, Jershika is so good at conveying emotion and telling stories with her voice, and all of that leads to the first standing ovation from the coaches this evening. Her own coach calls her "ridiculous" and "inspiring."
Team Ariana: Jim and Sasha Allen, "Your Song" by Elton John
Our father and son duo dedicate their Top 13 song to Sasha's cousin (and Jim's niece) who died at just 26 — they want to celebrate her life. It's yet another massive song that the guys are taking on and while they don't do anything dramatically different to the original, it's such a sweet, tender rendition. Jim, especially, sounds great tonight in his solos and really takes the lead. Blake tells them that out of everyone this season, he thinks they've shown the most improvement. Ariana agrees, saying they "magically keep improving each week" while taking on classics "fearlessly" and "beautifully." She's a fan, obviously.
Team Blake: Lana Scott, "Humble and Kind" by Tim McGraw
Blake's — and the show's — only country artist this season is dedicating her song to her dad, who is also the reason she picked Blake as her coach in the first place. It's a big love fest over on Team Blake. In rehearsals, Blake reminds Lana that although this song isn't full of big vocal moments, she needs to dig into the emotion and "hit people in the heart" with the message of the song. Her voice really is unlike anyone else's on the show, but Blake's right when he says that this song can be a little restrictive. Lana sounds great — Blake loves how "pure" her vocals are — and gets the emotion right, but there are bigger performances happening around her.
Team Kelly: Gymani, "Made a Way" by Travis Greene
Okay, Voice gods, how about a Wendy Moten-Gymani final? Wouldn't that be something? Listen, I'm not a church person by any means and still, this song was so emotionally affecting. Gymani picks a song she and her mom would sing in church and she performs it with so much confidence and power and emotion, it is a moment. Coach Kelly tells her that she even makes the soft moments "so exciting" and that not only is her voice "a special kind of gift" but her being on this show is "an incredible gift" to them.
Team Legend: Joshua Vacanti, "You Will Be Found" from Dear Evan Hansen
Well, yes, this is the perfect song for Joshua Vacanti to take on in order to leave an impression. It's poppy and modern but emotional and dramatic. He could just sing the whole Dear Evan Hansen songbook at this point and he'd probably be just fine. Dedicating this song to his high school music and drama teachers, Joshua hits all the big moments of this huge song. John loves how "heartfelt" every Joshua Vacanti performance is and how he just lets his vibrato ring out. There's "intention" in everything Joshua does on stage and it's paying off.
Team Ariana: Holly Forbes, "The Dance" by Garth Brooks
Holly Forbes wants to show a bit of a softer side in this performance, so she's singing the song she and her step-mom used to sing together growing up, Garth Brooks's simple yet highly emotional "The Dance." While it doesn't have a ton of soaring notes like the big ballads we're used to hearing Holly take on, it leaves so much space for her to convey emotion. It almost could've been softer, maybe? But still, Holly's voice punches you right in the heart whenever she opens her mouth. Blake loves that she kept the arrangement simple and just "poured [her] heart into it" and Ariana tells her that she's "in [her] own league" on the show.
Tomorrow night, 13 become 11. Which two artists are going home?
A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.