At the start of Week 3 of Fox’s reality TV music competition “The Four,” the coveted seats were held by two original members (21-year-old James Graham and 34-year-old Sharaya J) and two newbies (21-year-old Jesse Kramer and 25-year-old Whitney Reign). This week the judges/coaches Sean Combs, Meghan Trainor and DJ Khaled oversaw brand new performances by aspiring artists who hoped to steal a seat and become a member of “The Four.” How did it all play out?
Below, check out our minute-by-minute “The Four: Battle for Stardom” recap of Season 2, Episode 3 to find out what happened Thursday, June 21. Then be sure to sound off in the comments section about which singers you’re rooting for and who you think will ultimately join “The Four” winners list. Keep refreshing/reloading this live blog for the most recent updates.
7:59 p.m. – Previously on “The Four,” original member Carvena Jones was eliminated in the season premiere after Majeste Pearson excelled at her challenge performance. But then Majeste was kicked out of the second episode by Jesse. Also last week, original chair-sitter Stephanie Zelaya was booted by Whitney’s stand-out challenge performance. Will any current member of “The Four” — James, Sharaya, Jesse or Whitney — be sent packing this week?
8:05 p.m. – Jesse, Whitney, Sharaya and James kicked the show off with a performance of “Believer” by Imagine Dragons. Jesse sounded like an imitation rock star on this song. I can’t believe he took down Majeste last week. James’ voice excelled the most here. I don’t think there is a winner in this foursome – so let’s meet the challengers!
8:12 p.m. – First up is Ebon Lurks, a 22-year old R&B singer from Oklahoma. He is dedicating his performance to his deceased parents, who were murdered by gang members who discovered his father was an undercover FBI agent. He’s singing “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran. Ebon was soft-spoken throughout his intro package and he’s the same way on stage. He doesn’t project at all and he is sometimes difficult to hear. On the other hand, he’s the most likable personality I’ve seen in weeks and he has a warm presence about him. But does he have any fight?
8:15 p.m. – Meghan felt he was comfortable and his performance nearly brought tears to her eyes. Diddy thought Ebon was holding back. Khaled thought Ebon’s performance was “cool” and he liked his tone. But will they put Ebon through?
8:20 p.m. – Yes! We have a challenge! I’m actually shocked, I thought Ebon’s performance was a bit weak. But the guy has potential. It’s time to eat! Who will he go after? He chose Jesse, the rocker.
8:23 p.m. – Jesse is showing a softer side to night singing “You Are So Beautiful” by Joe Cocker. The growls in his voice drive me up the wall. He is so contrived. Everything from the eyeliner to the forced vocals seems like an imitation. He’s definitely the weakest performer among the Four. Next!
8:25 p.m. – For Ebon’s second performance he’s singing “Mine” by Bazzi. This song is definitely much more suitable for his voice and I can actually understand what he’s saying now. He’s got a swag about him without looking like a showboat. It’s hard not to like him, but his vocals still leave me wanting more. Regardless, my vote is for Ebon!
8:27 p.m. – Diddy thought Ebon stepped it up. He also enjoyed Jesse and said he does the exact same rendition of t “You Are So Beautiful” when he sings it for his mother. Huh? Khaled also enjoyed both. But who does the audience prefer? The winner is…Jesse. What is wrong with these people? What a disappointment. Jesse is safe for the week.
8:37 p.m. – Up next is Elijah Conner from Detroit. The man has comes from music royalty; Aretha Franklin is a family friend, Martha Reeves is his Godmother and Prince was his cousin. That’s a lot to live up to! Can he bring it? When you walk out in a fur coat you better! He’s singing “Love” by Musiq Soulchild. From his first line I can tell he’s the real deal and his upbringing in the church gospel choir is apparent. He may have churched this song up a little too much, but I think he deserves a shot at the Four.
8:39 p.m. – Khaled and Meghan don’t think he could beat anyone in the Four. Elijah showed attitude, which immediately made me dislike him. Diddy then told him he didn’t like the performance at all. “You came here too swagged out not to blow me away,” Combs said. After that, the judges rejected him. Elijah stared them down before humbling himself and thanking them for the opportunity. I would have probably voted for him to challenge the Four, but I’m not disappointed he’s gone. He was too cocky for his level of skill.
8:47 p.m. – The next challenger is Matt Bloyd from Modesto, California. He’ll be singing “How Will I Know” by Whitney Houston. He’s doing the ballad version, which is a smart move. He’s got an infectious personality and sings with passion. He doesn’t have the power to be playing around with Whitney, but it was a pretty rendition. Was I blown away? Not at all. Should he challenge one of the Four? Meh, why not?
8:49 p.m. – Meghan loved what Matt did with the song. Diddy didn’t think his falsetto had enough finesse, but said the performance was excellent overall. Khaled simply said, “I wanna see a challenge!” Is Matt ready to eat? The judges say yes! Who will he battle?
8:59 p.m. – Matt chose to challenge Whitney. She’ll perform first and she’s taking on “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin. She has the chops to get through this song, but it seems too old for her. What I love about Whitney is her youthful, sexy presence. I would have liked to see her sing something more contemporary, but she still did her best. There are thousands of power singers who would have brought more justice to that song though. Khaled still felt the need to blow that annoying horn of his at the end.
9:00 p.m. – Matt is singing “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton. Matt is using this as a showcase to prove how many notes he has in his register. It has none of the emotion and grit that made this song a classic for Stapleton. Pass! I’d go with Whitney on this one. Who will the audience choose?
9:02 p.m. – The winner of the challenge is…Whitney! She holds her spot for another week. Only James and Sharaya are available to challenge at this point in the episode.
9:12 p.m. – The next contender is Lil’ Bri, a 17-year old rapper from Houston. She has a fun personality that’s assertive, yet likable. She’s performing “Hate it or Love It” by The Game. Dang! This girl can go. There’s a bazillion words in this song and she can spit them all with clarity and emotion. She reminds me of old-school hip hop artists and I was feeling that. Put her through! Sharaya looks nervous.
9:14 p.m. – Meghan said she is a fan and Lil’ Bri is a young legend. Diddy loves her poise on the stage and said she represents hip-hop in the way it should be. Khaled thought it was incredible and is ready for another challenge. The panel put her through for a challenge. It’s time to eat! As a side note, Fergie gets real excited about these blue rings haha. It’s almost as entertaining as the performances. As expected, Lil’ Bri has chosen to battle Sharaya.
9:22 p.m. – Sharaya is up first and performing “Stir Fry” by Migos. Sharaya has been undergoing chemotherapy and lost her voice this week so this could be a challenge. Despite her struggles, Sharaya has energy on stage and I always love the gear she wears. The woman knows how to perform! I also like that she always turns her challenges into true rap battles and addresses her competitor directly, with respect. That was a solid performance by Sharaya.
9:26 p.m. – Lil’ Bri is taking on “Crush on You” by Lil’ Kim. She doesn’t have the performance ability of Sharaya, but the focus with her is always on the lyrics. I like her. This is a tough call, but I’d probably go with Lil’ Bri. Meghan liked Lil’ Bri’s song choice better, but preferred Sharaya’s lyrics. Diddy and Khaled sort of called it a draw. This is probably going to be a close vote!
9:27 p.m. – And the winner of the first female rap battle on Primetime television is….Sharaya J! I can’t be upset about that. Both of them were great.
9:37 p.m. – Next to hit the stage will be Christian Gonzalez, a 16-year old singer from Miami. He’s performing “Bailando” by Enrique Iglesias. He’s got some awkward dance moves, but a smooth, sultry voice. If this were another vocal competition where contestants had time to progress, I’d put him through. But “The Four” isn’t a series for artistic development.
9:39 p.m. – Meghan loved his poise on stage for such a young age. Diddy said he loves seeing Latino artists take the stage and said Christian came to eat! He loved the dance moves as well. Khaled thought Christian did a great job, but isn’t sure he could beat James in a sound clash. Will the panel move him through for a challenge?
9:44 p.m. – We have a challenge! Since James is the only member of The Four not locked in for the week, Christian has no choice but to face off against him.
9:47 p.m. – James is up first singing “Lately” by Stevie Wonder. Generally I despise Stevie Wonder covers because they constantly pale in comparison to the brilliant originals. In this case, James is bringing it vocally. He hits the modulation with brilliant execution and I have to say James nailed this! His best performance to date.
9:51 p.m. – Christian is next singing “Hold On We’re Going Home” by Drake. Christian does not match up to the vocal skill of James, but he’s the more smooth, contemporary artist. I just don’t think he did enough here. It was kind of a slaughter from James actually. But who did the audience prefer?
9:59 p.m. – The winner of the night’s final challenge is…James! James and Sharaya remain the only members of the original Four to hold their seat over the first three weeks. Whitney and Jesse both defended their titles tonight as well. This marks the first time in the history of the series were all four members successfully held their seats. I expect a serious shake up next week!