The eight semi-finalists on NBC’s “The Voice” performed Monday night in hopes of reaching next week’s Season 12 finale. In addition to their usual solo performances, each artist was also paired up with one of their competitors to sing a duet. Coach Blake Shelton still has all three of his team members remaining. Coaches Alicia Keys and Gwen Stefani have two contenders each. And after last week’s stunning results show, coach Adam Levine is down to just one artist in competition this wek.
So how did all eight singers stack up with so much at stake before Tuesday’s mass elimination? Here are my rankings of tonight’s performances from best to worst.
1. Chris Blue (Team Alicia) – “Take Me to the King”
Paying tribute to his church that holds viewing parties for him each week, Chris went deep into his gospel roots for this powerful song about faith and overcoming personal struggles. He stayed in his lower register through the first half of the song, holding his composure until he finally couldn’t hold it in anymore and began losing all bodily control like we’ve become use to seeing from him. While it wasn’t the most perfect vocal he’s given this season, it was perhaps the most genuine and emotional. The audience in the studio reacted with the longest, most energized ovation of the night.
2. Lauren Duski (Team Blake) – “Ghost in This House”
Lauren has consistently been the best storyteller though song this season and she was at her best with this song. Dressed in an elegant, white gown she looked like a star while singing out powerful lyrics with true intentions behind them. My criticism of Lauren in the past has been that she just didn’t hold much star power but that couldn’t be said about tonight’s performance. She was more captivating than ever and her gorgeous tone was put on full display throughout a song that will surely get her into the finale.
3. Jesse Larson (Team Adam) – “I Was Wrong”
Easily his best performance of the season, Jesse shredded this song both vocally and on guitar. There wasn’t much of a production behind him and there was none necessary with a voice like that ringing out behind the microphone. Jesse has had a good reception from viewers from performances I found mediocre in the past so I can only imagine what this performance will do for him on the iTunes chart. There is definitely a possibility Jesse will upstage one of the longtime favorites this season and steal a spot in next week’s finale.
4. Hunter Plake (Team Gwen) – “With or Without You”
This mid-tempo rock song was right in Hunter’s wheelhouse and stuck with a familiar formula he has used throughout the season. As usual, he was completely committed to the vocal which made this yet another impressive, believable, and relevant performance. While all four judges quickly rose to their feet, I found myself feeling uninspired. I was hoping he would do something a little more outside the box, but there is no question he is a star and will breeze into next week’s finale.
5. Vanessa Ferguson (Team Alicia) – “Superstar”
Vanessa looked absolutely stunning tonight during her performance of this soul classic. Throughout the first 30 seconds of the song she did seem a bit nervous but that all went away in the last two-thirds of the performance where she turned things into high gear. It seems like Vanessa took longer than others to come out of her shell and her true star potential is just beginning to shine. I loved the grit and power in her voice tonight and if she fails to make the finale she can still be proud she went out on a high note.
6. TSoul (Team Blake) – “Ain’t No Way”
Blake wanted TSoul to swing for the fences this week and that’s just what he did with this epic Aretha Franklin classic. Looking suave as ever in a bright pink suit, TSoul maneuvered around the stage in comfortable fashion while singing up and down as many octaves he could manage. Overall this was one of his best performances of the season, but he did appear to run out of gas by the end. In terms of connecting with his core audience though, I would call performance a success for TSoul.
7. Aliyah Moulden (Team Blake) – “I Can Only Imagine”
Blake pulled out all the stops for the production of this song that included heavily detailed staging and a troupe of young dancers surrounding Aliyah for this inspirational number. She looked beautiful and it was nice to see her able to have a powerful moment on stage. That being said, the song may have been a bit too big for her and I’m not sure gospel is the direction her career is headed.
8. Brennley Brown (Team Gwen) – “Suds in the Bucket”
Hoping to spice things up a bit and try something new, Brennley swapped the emotional ballads for this fun, sassy up-tempo number. While the intention was good, the execution was not up to par with her previous performances. It was one of the few times this season I remembered that Brennley is just a teenager without much experience. In what appeared to be an attempt to convey attitude, her facial expressions and constant head shaking seemed overdramatic and forced. It all sounded more like something from a junior pageant rather than the most highly watched singing competition in the world.
For the first time ever, the duets performed in the semi-finals with them also having an impact on who makes the finale. Viewers could vote using Twitter or by purchasing the duet on iTunes, which benefits both artists equally. The first duet was a Team Alicia collaboration between Chris and Vanessa performing their coach’s song “If I Ain’t Got You.” The result was a soul-inspiring tour-de-force that saw both artists rising to the occasion. The next pairing had Team Blake’s Aliyah joining Team Gwen’s Hunter on the recent radio hit “Let it Go.” While it was nice to see a new side to Aliyah in this instance, Hunter really dominated this performance from beginning to end. Next up were Team Adam’s Jesse and Team Blake’s TSoul coming together for the Stevie Wonder classic “I Wish.” This duo was pretty evenly matched, but the song did seem to fit in Jesse’s vocal register better than TSoul’s. Finally Team Blake’s Lauren and Team Gwen’s Brennley teamed up for a country duo of “Good Hearted Woman.” It was a fun duet that allowed both to shine equally.
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