The Top 8 artists left it all on the stage during Monday’s semi-finals of NBC’s hit reality series “The Voice.” With half of them going home 24 hours later, the pressure has never been higher to hit the right notes. Adam Levine is determined to take all three of his contestants to next week’s finale. Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus each have two hopefuls competing for a spot. And Blake Shelton has just one artist left gunning for the title.
Each artist took the stage twice tonight – once for their own solo performance and then again as a duet with one of their competitors from another team. So how did they do? Here is how I ranked Monday night’s performances alone (not for the overall season). Be sure to vote in our predictions center before Tuesday’s results show (see details below) as to who will be eliminated this week and who will be crowned the Season 11 champion.
1. Sundance Head (Team Blake) – “Love Can Build a Bridge”
No artist has been able to connect to the music this season quite like Head. Time and time again he just knocks it out of the park! This performance of an old Judds hit was another perfect song choice for the burly country singer that viewers seem to love more and more each week. I have no doubt he will top the iTunes chart yet again and sail into next week’s finale with ease.
2. Billy Gilman (Team Adam) – “I Surrender”
Gilman closed the show tonight with yet another powerhouse performance that shook the rafters off the rooftop, but for some reason I wasn’t as blown away as I felt I should have been. While the notes he hits are beyond impressive, it feels as though Gilman is out to prove something rather than feel the lyrics of the songs he sings. That being said, you can’t deny the talent of this guy and it would be a travesty if he weren’t in the finale.
3. Josh Gallagher (Team Adam) – “Danny’s Song”
With an acoustic take on a country classic, Gallagher saved his best performance of the season for this moment. His delivery was sincere and for once his vocals were able to shine through and prove he is more than just a hunky country singer with mediocre vocals. He not only looked like a star tonight but he sounded like one too. This song will relate to country fans in a big way, and he may have just stamped his ticket to the finals.
4. Ali Caldwell (Team Miley) – “I Will Always Love You”
When any artist takes the stage to tackle a Whitney Houston song, I immediately brace myself for a huge disappointment. Usually singing anything from the legendary vocalist’s catalog shows only what a singer can’t do, rather than what they can. But Caldwell really impressed me with this performance. She didn’t resort to copying Houston note for note, but instead made the song her own. She took Miley’s advice and weaved beautifully between Houston’s and Dolly Parton’s versions, while adding her own runs and inflections. The result was a “perfect performance,” according to Alicia Keys, and a fantastic moment for Caldwell.
5. Christian Cuevas (Team Alicia) – “To Worship You I Live (Away)”
Cuevas is at his best when giving a stripped down performance that showcases his big voice and raw emotion. That is exactly what he delivered Monday — a message of faith that left him in tears before the song was over. Although his vocals weren’t perfect, there were some moments that literally gave me goose bumps. And while there were moments of brilliance, there were also moments I felt as though I was watching an amateur lead the church choir. This wasn’t the best performance Cuevas has given, but I think there are many viewers that will connect to the message of the song and his genuine, heartfelt delivery.
6. Brendan Fletcher (Team Adam) – “Angel”
Trying to capitalize on his breakout performance last week, Fletcher decided to sing a ballad once again, this time with not quite the same impact. After sounding a bit nervous in the beginning of the song, he then seemed a bit strained at the bridge when trying to bring it home. It wasn’t my favorite moment for him. He could have cemented himself as a legitimate frontrunner to win the title, but now he still has more work to do. That being said, he is a likable underdog that people are rooting for so I still think he will make the top four.
7. We’ McDonald (Team Alicia) – “Scars to Your Beautiful”
McDonald has been somewhat inconsistent this season and tonight was no different. She has moments where her poise and stage presence are shocking for someone so young. But vocally, she wasn’t quite as on tonight as she’s been in the past. It seems as though her coach is struggling with song choices for her and although I thought this was a step in the right direction, it didn’t quite hit the mark. If her fan base votes her through, she will need better songs to win. I would love to hear her sing something by Annie Lennox.
8. Aaron Gibson (Team Miley) – “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You”
Gibson just hasn’t progressed as quickly as he needs to in this competition. He has a good voice, but for someone who has consistently been at the bottom of the pack, he really needed to step it up tonight and he didn’t. It was the same thing we’ve seen from him week after week: decent vocals with zero stage presence. This was without question his last performance as a competitor on “The Voice.”
And here were the paired performances (ranked best to worst) for Monday’s Top 8 episode:
1. Brendan Fletcher and Ali Caldwell – “It’s Only Love”
With by far the best duet of the night, Fletcher and Caldwell had a great connection on stage and complimented each other nicely. For his part, Fletcher looked more relaxed than ever, belting out the notes and wailing on his guitar. Perhaps singing with a powerhouse like Caldwell brought out another side of him. Caldwell looked beautiful and can really sing anything. Although this wasn’t within her genre, she looked perfectly comfortable and sounded great rocking out on stage.
2. Sundance Head and Josh Gallagher – “Feelin’ Alright”
The last time these two were on stage together was in the Knockout round, where Head defeated Gallagher, sending him from Team Blake to Team Adam. Tonight’s performance was all for fun, with less pressure, and the two paired nicely together. Head’s superior vocals remain obvious, but one can also argue Gallagher looks like more of the star on stage. The two complement each other and their genuine friendship made this performance fun to watch.
3. We` McDonald and Aaron Gibson – “Four Five Seconds”
A duet between these two may not have been the obvious choice, but the voices of McDonald and Gibson actually meshed quite well together. I found McDonald to be particularly refreshing in this performance, giving a more contemporary sound to her old fashioned style. Gibson, as always, sounded good but lacked the star power to measure up to his partner. Overall it was just an okay performance, where the vocals hit the mark, but presentation left much to be desired.
4. Billy Gilman and Christian Cuevas – “Unsteady”
Two of the season’s biggest powerhouses teamed up for this modern rock ballad. I actually preferred the raspier vocals of Cuevas on this song. Gilman seemed somewhat uncomfortable within the performance and their harmonies didn’t quite mesh. They could have used another rehearsal, because this was just okay.
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