On Monday night’s episode of "The Voice," the top nine artists all performed for a spot in next week’s live finale. A jaw-dropping five singers will go home on Tuesday night’s results show, leaving just four to battle it out for the coveted title next week. Here's how it will work: the three with the top scores are safe, the three with the bottom scores are immediately gone, and the three in the middle will battle for an instant social media save by the home audience.
Coaches Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani, and Pharrell Williams are also fighting it out to be the winning coach for this ninth season. Both Shelton and Levine have the biggest advantages with their entire teams in tact with three each. Stefani is down to two artists, while Williams has just one.
My rankings for the "Top 9" performances on Monday are listed below (strictly by how they did on this show and not where they stand for the season). Complicating matters further was the fact that each artist was in rare form for this episode, with many delivering their best performances of the season. Jordan Smith was once again the best of the night and should easily be safe in advancing to the finale, but three more spots are up for grabs and could belong to anyone.
1. Jordan Smith (Team Adam), “Somebody to Love”
Smith seemed to have everything going for him this week (including the producers) as he was once again allowed to sing last, this time backed by a gospel choir in an over-the-top performance that drove the crowd into an absolute frenzy. I’ve made it known I think he is heavily favored by production (he’s never once performed in the first half of the episode, which can be a detriment), but there is no denying the guy has a killer set of pipes. This was his most fun performance to date and it was great to see this side of him. Expect him to top iTunes yet again and advance to the finale with ease.
2. Emily Ann Roberts (Team Blake), “9 to 5”
Roberts took on a Dolly Parton classic and was absolutely flawless in her rendition while working the stage like a pro. This fun, energetic performance should bring out the country fans in droves to vote her into the finale. Each week Roberts proves to be a star in the making, and I would not be surprised to see her crowned the champion.
3. Jeffery Austin (Team Gwen), “Believe”
Every week Austin has performed a ballad, and this week he took on a number one dance song from 1998… and turned it into a ballad. But WOW did it work! Reinventing the song, he turned it into a vocal showcase of soul and power, proving to be one of the best vocalists of the season. As someone likely on the bubble to make the finale, this may have officially stamped his ticket to advance.
4. Amy Vachal (Team Adam), “To Make You Feel My Love”
Vachal’s ability to pair soft, sweet vocals with her unique melodies sets her apart from other singers who simply try to hit as many big notes as possible. Her performance this week was a hypnotizing testament that less is often more. It’s difficult to say if such an understated performance will inspire viewers to keep her around, but she would be a worthy contender if she is indeed voted through.
5. Madi Davis (Team Pharrell), “Big Girls Don’t Cry”
Watching Davis deliver the most unique, interesting performance of the night was like watching a 1960’s pop star and a 1990’s coffee shop singer blend beautifully into one. Her vocals were understated, yet she did show off some very complex, unexpected runs that showed she is a truly special performer. I’m not sure this is the type of song that will get huge votes, but regardless she continues to be a breath of fresh air among a pack of typical, safe singers.
6. Zach Seabaugh (Team Blake), “The Climb”
So far this season Seabaugh has been more popular for his hip thrusting on stage than his vocals. Nonetheless he opted for an inspirational ballad this week and was able to deliver his most believable, consistent vocals to date. During a week I was certain this contender would be going home, he certainly may have shaken things up with this performance.
7. Shelby Brown (Team Adam), “Even God Must Get the Blues”
After struggling for weeks with confidence issues, Brown turned in arguably her best performance since her audition. The emotional country ballad allowed her to show off all aspects of her voice, which has potential to be one of the best of the season, if she only sang with more confidence and presence. The song will speak to her fans, although I’m not sure she has the fan base to survive the five-person elimination coming Tuesday.
8. Barrett Baber (Team Blake), “Ghost”
So far this season Baber has played it safe, covering country songs within his comfort zone and appeasing his core fans. This week he opened the show by covering a pop/rock song and was able to pull it off – proving he is a formidable vocalist. That being said, it was far from his best performance. Some of the verses were difficult to hear but he did shine on the chorus and climax of the song. I’m not sure the semi-finals was the best week to take such a risk, but he may have enough fans to get him through to the finale regardless.
9. Braiden Sunshine (Team Gwen), “Amazing Grace”
When desperate for votes, it’s a great rule of thumb to perform a song about God or patriotism, hence Sunshine’s performance this week. After a bottom-two finish last week he has to pull off a miracle to escape this week’s mass elimination. Although his performance was ok, it lacked the emotion and power a more mature, more talented vocalist could have delivered.
Congratulations to our reader Jean Leong for being one of 19 people with perfect scores in last week's contest. All of them predicted that Korin Bukowski would be finished and that Braiden Sunshine would be in the bottom but not eliminated. However, Leong had the best overall point score of 10,400 thanks to using her special 500 and 200 point bets wisely. If eligible as per our contest rules, she will win a $100 Amazon gift certificate.
Check out the overall Season 9 leaderboard to the right. There are only two weeks left to play in our contest, so you should jump in now and try to win some money for the weekly and overall season prizes. See our contest rules here and don't forget to update YOUR predictions here. The deadline for this week's contest is Tuesday, December 8, at 5:00 p.m. PT.
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Photo courtesy of NBC.