The Voice recap: Blake Shelton says one of his artists has 'completely changed this competition'
It's Fan Week on The Voice, which means, for better or worse, our Top 11's song selections have been influenced by what their fans have been wanting to hear them sing. With only 11 acts, it feels like everyone gets to breathe a bit and lean into their performances a little more. People aren't joking around when it comes to earning a spot in the Top 10. We'll find out tomorrow which artist will be sent home, but before that, let's get into some singing.
Team Blake: Wendy Moten, "Freeway of Love" by Aretha Franklin
It's Wendy's birthday, so she's kicking off the show with an Aretha party song, she's rocking a PERFECT glitter pantsuit complete with a cape, and she's fielding calls from her pal Vince Gill, perhaps you've heard of him. That's a pretty decent birthday right there. Wendy's going to need to hit people in the hearts to keep her march to the finale going but it is nice to get a lighter, fun look at a Wendy Moten performance. John Legend wants to make it clear that "what [Wendy's] doing, almost no one can do" but she makes it so effortless, sometimes people take it for granted. Blake echoes the sentiment and adds that Wendy is already "performing like a legend" up on stage.
Team Kelly: Girl Named Tom, "More Hearts Than Mine" by Ingrid Andress
It's definitely nice to hear Girl Named Tom take on a modern song, finally, but even with some work on the arrangement in rehearsals, it's lacking some of the haunting, ethereal vibe the sibling trio does so well. Not that it much matters, I guess. Based on that huge viewing party back in their Ohio hometown, Girl Named Tom obviously has a lot of fans. This week, they're sure to gain more as they dip into the country genre — something they're a little apprehensive about. Blake Shelton thinks it's actually a perfect fit of band and genre, and Kelly Clarkson is just proud that she has a group who is ready and willing to challenge themselves. So maybe country isn't so scary after all.
Team Ariana: Holly Forbes, "Alone" by Heart
This should be how we close out the show tonight, no? Holly's fans give her a huge song to tackle but sweet, reserved Holly doesn't sweat it. We know she has the power to take this anthem on, but one of the highlights of the performance is how she takes this rock song and infuses it with her soul sensibilities. It brings something new to the whole thing. John Legend loves that not only is it obvious Holly has the pipes, but that you can tell her "heart is so involved in every note that [she's] singing." Blake knew Holly would kill this song from the moment he saw what she was doing, and Ariana Grande is simply amazed that Holly is still able to surprise and show new sides to herself this far into the competition. She's never seemed so confident on stage.
Team Legend: Jershika Maple, "How Can I Ease the Pain" by Lisa Fischer
The fans give Jershika a classic '90s R&B song, and Coach John is right to point out that while this song "plays into her strengths" as a singer, it's way more difficult than it seems. It's going to push Jershika's range for sure. But there's nothing to worry about — Jershika admits she felt like she was going to barf before coming on stage — she nails this one. In rehearsals, John wants her to not just feel the emotion in the song but really put some personality on it. She certainly does — especially in the back half of the song. After her performance, Jershika's coach praises her by telling her how amazing it is watching someone who has "really mastered their craft" and is "so empowered by how gifted they are." It's a good moment for Jershika.
Team Blake: Lana Scott, "I Hope" by Gabby Barrett
Speaking of good moments, this is a great song choice for season 21's reigning country-pop singer. It gives her the chance to prove she can be a modern country singer plus, the juxtaposition of the edge and power in this song with Lana's sweet tone is a cool thing to see. It all works in her favor. Ariana Grande says she feels like she's at one of Lana's own concerts and that she's never "felt more in [her] own." It's true — this performance helps you see what a Lana Scott album could sound like. Blake Shelton is proud and not only calls this Lana's "breakout moment" but tells her that she "just completely changed the landscape of this competition." He's betting big on Lana Scott.
Team Legend: Joshua Vacanti, "The Show Must Go On" by Queen
When Camila Cabello was John Legend's Battles Advisor, she immediately compared Joshua Vacanti to Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, and the fans have followed suit. The theatricality in this song and the operatic vocals are perfect for Joshua to continue to do his thing. By the end of the performance, all four coaches are on their feet. Kelly Clarkson wants to see Joshua on Broadway. Blake Shelton thought that was the absolute perfect song choice for Joshua and that he "absolutely slayed it." John Legend praises Joshua for being able to handle a song that not many singers can. "You are a superstar," he tells his artist.
Team Kelly: Jeremy Rosado, "Reckless Love" by Cory Asbury
Jeremy's fans really get him apparently, because they suggested he, a worship leader who wants to pursue Christian music, sing what Jeremy calls "one of the biggest Christian songs in the past 10 years." The back half of the performance is much better than the front half, where his typically clear, resounding voice seems a little drowned out at times. But the passion and heart the coaches continually bring up any time Jeremy performs are most definitely there. John Legend loves watching someone so in their element and calls him "passionate" and "committed." Kelly agrees — she tosses the idea of "a male Lauren Daigle" out there and is just happy to see Jeremy embracing the type of career he wants to have moving forward.
Team Kelly: Gymani, "Diamonds" by Rihanna
Gymani handily won that Instant Save last week but knows she needs to show she's a real contender. Her fans select a song that she actually covered on her own YouTube channel years ago, and giving Gymani a modern R&B song in which she can both be a storyteller and show moments of real power is really smart. In rehearsal, she and Kelly work on slowing down the beginning of the song to show off the texture in her voice. Kelly also makes sure Gymani highlights that rasp in her big power note moments that make her vocals so special. She gets a standing ovation from the coaches. Kelly was right to highlight that rasp because, holy hell, the end of the song gives me chills. Kelly applauds Gymani for her technical prowess and strong storytelling ability.
Team Ariana: Jim & Sasha Allen, "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
I was hoping the fans would give Jim and Sasha something to make them feel a little more modern — I'm still not exactly sure what kind of music they'd be putting on an album just yet. Alas, the father-son duo gets another big, classic song. Blake Shelton praises them for being so comfortable on stage and calls out that Jim is really holding it down as far as musical instruments go. Ariana takes it a step further because she wants to make sure people know that Jim is "a musical genius." She thinks they're simply "spectacular on stage."
Team Blake: Paris Winningham, "Use Me" by Bill Withers
Paris! Winningham! There's been a lot of talk tonight about forgetting you're watching The Voice and feeling like you're at an artist's concert, and Paris Winningham continues the trend. Also, this is a great example of taking a classic song and making it feel contemporary and cool. Paris makes everything seem so easy. He's putting on a show here, for sure, not to mention his vocals sound great (that high note? YES.). John says he reminds him of some of the gospel singers he grew up listening to and loves the "soul and spirit" Paris puts into everything he sings. Blake is impressed that he has a "sort of ease" while remaining in complete control. Give this man all the cheesecake he wants, okay?
Team Kelly: Hailey Mia, "Elastic Heart" by Sia
Hailey Mia's living the dream: After having to fight for the Instant Save to make it past the first round of live performances, she was swiftly voted through last week. That's got to be a good feeling, right? Furthermore, Coach Kelly thinks that Hailey's version of this Sia song is going to be her best performance and the song that finally gets people to consider the 14-year-old as a contender. Hailey and Kelly slow the arrangement and strip it down to just a piano and cello to accompany the singer so she can demonstrate some real vocal showmanship. There's so much control here with a lot going on. Kelly is, obviously, bawling by the end of it and reiterates that she thinks Hailey Mia is a real dark horse contender. She is constantly impressed by the "kind of taste and charisma" Hailey demonstrates every time she performs.
Only one artist will be going home tomorrow night — a reprieve from the typical Voice bloodbaths, no? — who do we think might find themselves in the bottom, and who's earned a spot in the Top 10?
A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.