At the start of Week 5 of Fox’s “The Four,” the incumbent chair-holders were 29-year-old Ali Caldwell (who just joined the show last week), 21-year-old James Graham, 34-year-old Sharaya J and 21-year-old Jesse Kramer. Did any of these four singers get taken down by new challengers this week? And what did judges/coaches Sean Combs, DJ Khaled and Meghan Trainor have to say about the ever-increasing competition on the reality TV show?
Below, check out our minute-by-minute “The Four: Battle for Stardom” recap of Season 2, Episode 5 to find out what happened Thursday, July 12 at 8/7c. 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.
8:00 p.m. – “Previously on ‘The Four’!” As a refresher, in last week’s episode Ali sang “Set Fire To The Rain” and took out reigning chair-holder Whitney Reign, James sang “Human Nature” and beat challenger Dion Rene, Sharaya sang “Go Raya (Original Song)” and defeated challenger Brennan Villines, and Jesse sang “Hold On, I’m Comin'” and eliminated challenger Felix Thompson. Now it’s time to find out whether the current members of “The Four” can all hold their chairs against exciting new singers.
8:05 p.m. – Sharaya J, James, Ali and Jesse kicked off this week’s episode with a group performance of “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd. It was a high energy performance but I didn’t see a star within the group. Diddy gave them an unwarranted standing ovation. Hopefully they bring it harder for their solos later!
8:10 p.m. – The first challenger tonight is Dylan Jacob, a 16-year old hip hop artist from Las Vegas. He comes from humble beginnings and at one point 10 of his family members shared a studio apartment. He dropped out of school because he’s certain he’s meant to be a performer. Yikes! Hope it works out for him. Tonight he’s performing his original take on “Flava In Ya Ear” by Craig Mack. I was fully prepared to roll my eyes at this kid, but he’s actually got pretty impressive flow and star power for days. He’s like a hip-hop version of Justin Bieber. Dylan could be TROUBLE for The Four!
8:15 p.m. – Khaled mumbled and blew his fog horn. I think he liked the performance. Meghan is freaking out and says she’s nauseous because Dylan is so good. Diddy is highly impressed with the youngster and wants to see a challenge. But will the others agree? Yes, the panel wants to see Dylan challenge for a place in The Four. He has decided to take on Sharaya in an all-out rap battle.
8:23 p.m. – Sharaya sounds much better this week after struggling with her vocals the past two weeks. She looks gorgeous with an interesting fake tattoo design over her head, a red leather shirt and funky black pants. She’s old-school and that’s what I like about her. She approaches Dylan and raps the lyrics to Missy Elliot‘s “She’s a Bitch” right in his face. Next Dylan’s rebuttal song (which he wrote himself), “Dat Cheese”, is not quite as impressive as his first. This song is slow and although his charm and swagger is still in tact, I’m not enjoying this. But I have to admit, Dylan has more star power than Sharaya J. She should be very concerned.
8:25 p.m. – Meghan said Dylan has been Sharaya’s strongest challenger all season, but Sharaya gave her best performance to date. Khaled can see Sharaya fighting for her life and her dreams and believes she secured the bag. Diddy told Dylan not to start anything he can’t finish. He said Sharaya was hungry and Dylan became dinner. That said, Dylan’s future is bright. But did the panel sway the audience’s choice? Sharaya secured the bag! Dylan was a good sport and walked off the stage with class.
8:35 p.m. – Tonight’s next challenger is Jade Milan, a 20-year old from Baltimore. At the age of 9 she was cast in the Broadway show “The Lion King” as Young Nala. Now she’s ready to follow her dreams of becoming a recording artist. Jade is singing “Grenade” by Bruno Mars. I’m not impressed with the first verse. Perhaps it’s not the right song but the vocal just sounds thin and it feels like she was just waiting to get to the chorus. Even then I wasn’t impressed. Next!
8:37 p.m. – Meghan said she has to think about Jade’s performance. Khaled said he didn’t feel the performance in his bones. Diddy didn’t feel any goosebumps. Jade says if she’s given another chance she’ll perform “Un-Break My Heart” by Toni Braxton and give them those goosebumps. Unfortunately for Jade, the panel has decided they’re not interested in hearing another song. I agree with them.
8:50 p.m. – The next challenger is Ronnie Smith Jr., a 25-year old from Miami. He works at his family-owned funeral home and has been singing at memorial services since he was nine years old. Ronnie isn’t cocky, but he’s very confident he won’t leave without one of those seats. I love his colorful outfit and little hat. Ronnie is singing “U Don’t Have to Call” by Usher. He’s got an ease about him on stage and is able to hold my attention through the first verse of an uptempo so I’ll credit him for that. He’s also got a nice falsetto. But I know he’s holding back. Give me something good Ronnie! Meh. He was just okay. I’m not sure what the panel will do at this point, but Ronnie over-promised and under-delivered for me.
8:52 p.m. – The panel loved his voice and his showmanship, but Diddy isn’t sure Ronnie is ready to eat. After a brief deliberation the panel decided to let Ronnie challenge for a seat! I hope he comes harder for his second performance or he’ll head straight home.
9:00 p.m. – Ronnie says he came to challenge the beast and chose to battle James. James is singing “On Bended Knee” by Boyz II Men. Okay, James can sing! Each week he impresses me more and this song is a hardcore challenge for any singer. James is gliding through it like a soul superstar and his falsetto is absolutely sick. Slay! Okay, James did the damn thing. Good luck Ronnie.
9:03 p.m. – Ronnie is singing “Let Me Love You” by Mario. Ronnie has a great tone and seems like a more modern artist than James, but can’t match the power. James looks nervous but he shouldn’t be. In my opinion James demolished Ronnie tonight.
9:05 p.m. – Meghan thinks Ronnie is cute and loves his voice. She still gets surprised by James’ performances. Diddy wanted more emotion for James. But what does the audience think? James survived another week! The audience made the correct choice. Ronnie walked his path off the stage with pride.
9:13 p.m. – The next challenger is Noah Barlass, a pop/R&B singer from Oklahoma. He felt out of place during his childhood and was ridiculed for his love of music. Now he lives in Nashville and is ready to step out of his comfort zone and be okay with who he is. Noah is singing “The Middle” by Zedd & Maren Morris. He’s actually got a really cool vibe about him. He looks like a grunge rocker with long curly hair and a flannel shirt on, but he’s got this really interesting voice and some sick vocal runs. I like this guy! I’d love to see him take out Jesse.
9:18 p.m. – Meghan thinks Noah is so different in the best possible way. Diddy isn’t impressed with his stage presence because he cavalierly walks around the stage. That’s total BS! Meghan agrees with me and says it’s just his style. Noah promises Diddy he will turn up the heat if he needs to. Khaled told him to fight for his life if this is what he wants to do.
9:25 p.m. – The panel decided to let Noah challenge for a seat! He has chosen to compete against Jesse because they’re both white guys with long hair. Yes! I’ve been hoping someone could take down this fake rocker for weeks. Come on Noah! Jesse is singing an acoustic version of “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor. Ugh, this is a brilliant song choice. But there he goes ruining the mood by shaking his head around to come up with some sort of vibrato. This guy’s a joke. Next!
9:27 p.m. – For his second song Noah is singing “Who You Are” by Jessie J. I respect his vocal ability, but I don’t like this performance nearly as much as his first. He is singing to high in his range and it sounds completely nasal. That being said, at least he sounds original and I still want him to crush Jesse. Come on Noah! Meghan is on her feet.
9:30 p.m. – Noah has dethroned Jesse! Finally! Diddy wasn’t feeling either performance but Meghan loves Noah. I’m just glad to see Jesse finally exit this competition. I couldn’t handle another performance full of forced growls.
9:40 p.m. – The night’s last challenger is Kateri Bluford, a gospel singer from Milwuakee who has always been ridiculed for her weight. She grew up singing her mother out of depression and has been told there is healing in her voice. She’s got a great personality, but let’s see how she sings. Kateri is singing “I’m Getting Ready” by Tasha Cobbs Leonard. I’m immediately impressed by her voice because it cuts like a knife even before she gets to the chorus. She’s got crystal clear pipes and as she hits the chorus lets loose with some nice vocal runs. I’m not sure she has the power to hold up against Ali, but will the panel give her a chance?
9:42 p.m. – Meghan said it was great and says nobody can take those riffs away from her. Diddy questions whether or not Kateri is hungry enough. She convinces him she’s a lion and ready to fight. Ali stands up in her seat and says “Let’s battle.” I like Ali, but spare me the cocky, petty comments. The panel decided to give Ali what she wants and there will be a battle!
9:50 p.m. – Ali is up first singing “Somebody Loves You Baby” by Patti LaBelle. She uttered about six words before Diddy pulled off his sunglasses in admiration. Ali is the diva in The Four and she is hitting all the notes tonight. I don’t think she’s going anywhere. Meghan is on her feet halfway through the performance and Diddy and Khaled soon join her. Okay, she slayed!
9:53 p.m. – Kateri is next with “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion. She sounds more like a sheep than a lion after Ali’s performance and I kind of feel bad for her. I’m sure that was intimidating to have to watch. She eventually loosens up by the chorus, but Ali has this in the bag. Kateri seems like a sweet girl but this isn’t her time.
9:55 p.m. – Meghan said Ali is a beast. She called Kateri’s riffs effortless. Khaled said Ali’s voice sounds mixed and mastered and he could listen to Kateri sing all day. So it’s all up to the audience!
9:59 p.m. – Ali has retained her place in The Four. She along with James and Sharaya defended their chairs while Noah stole is place among them. I’d say at this point the competition is James’ to lose. What does everyone else think?