‘The Four’ week 7 recap: Which artists are heading into next week’s exciting Season 2 finale? [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

At the start of Week 7 of Fox’s “The Four,” the four vocal gladiators sitting in the coveted chairs were: 34-year-old Sharaya J, 29-year-old Ali Caldwell, 17-year-old Leah Jenea and 24-year-old JeRonelle McGhee. Leah and JeRonelle just joined the panel last week after eliminating fan favorites James Graham and Noah Barlass, respectively. Did judges/coaches Meghan Trainor, Sean Combs and DJ Khaled send home any of these four incumbent chair-holders just one week before the exciting Season 2 finale?

Below, check out our minute-by-minute “The Four: Battle for Stardom” recap of Season 2, Episode 7 to find out what happened Thursday, July 26 at 8/7c. Then be sure to sound off in the comments section about which singers you’re rooting for on Fox’s reality TV show and who you think will ultimately join “The Four” winners list. Keep refreshing/reloading this live blog for the most recent updates.

SEE ‘The Four’ final: Zhavia should have won, say 76% of readers

8:00 p.m. – “Previously on ‘The Four’!” As a refresher, in last week’s sixth episode Sharaya sang “I Don’t F*** with You” and eliminated challenger AJ Reynolds, Ali sang “No More Drama” and beat challenger Anthony Gargiula, Leah sang “Call Out My Name” and defeated reigning chair-holder James, and JeRonelle sang “This Woman’s Work” and took out reigning chair-holder Noah. Now it’s time to learn whether the current members of “The Four” can hold their chairs heading into next week’s finale.

8:05 p.m. – Eight previously eliminated contestants have returned for a second chance at securing a seat in next week’s finale. But first, Season 1 finalist Zhavia is back to kick off the show. She joins Ali, JeRonelle, Leah Jenae and Sharaya J for a medley of Jackson 5 hits. Then Season 1 champ, Evvie McKinney joined them. Let’s just say she proved why she slayed Zhavia in last year’s finale. Haters gonna hate! Zhavia has been signed with Columbia records and Evvie will be back next week to premiere her new single. According to Diddy, it’s a smash!

8:15 p.m. – Tonight’s first battle is the spicy Stephanie Zelaya vs. the passionate Whitney Reign. Stephanie was a member of the original Four and Whitney was actually the artist who unseated her. It’s time for a rematch! Whitney is up first with “Mama Knows Best” by Jessie J. This is a more fun side of Whitney than we have seen before. The ballad singer has strapped on the knee-high green boots and is pouring on the sass. But she forgot about the vocals! The judges are on their feet, but I’m unimpressed. Stephanie followed it up with “Bailamos” by Enrique Iglesias. Stephanie always brings fire to the stage. She’s got incredible stage presence, but I’m not feeling her vocals either. In fact, I don’t even care which of these two wins this battle.

8:17 p.m. – Diddy tells Whitney he didn’t smell any fear in her this time around. Khaled loves how Stephanie represents her people. They didn’t really give a preference for who they’d prefer to move on. But the audience chose…Whitney! That’s the second time Whitney defeated Stephanie in this competition.

8:25 p.m. – Whitney has chosen to challenge Ali, the woman who stole her seat a few weeks ago. Ali will perform first. With the classic ballad, “My All” by Mariah Carey, Ali seems determined to show who the real ballad queen is this season. By the end of the first verse, Diddy stands up as if to challenge her. Ali inflected a bit of a jazz sound to the song and it was good, but it wasn’t unbeatable. Whitney then took the stage with “Don’t Let Go (Love)” by En Vogue. This mix of sass and vocals is the perfect blend for Whitney and this may be my favorite performance from her. Ali is the superior vocalist, but Whitney wins in sheer star power. This could be a close one!

8:30 p.m. – Meghan tells Ali she had chills from head to toe throughout the performance. With Whitney, she saw a touring star. Diddy saw Whitney’s swag tonight. He thinks Ali has one of the best voices he’s ever heard. The panel will decide the winner of this battle. After a serious debate, the panel has chosen Whitney to take back her seat and advance to the finale. Ali looks shocked before tears well up in her eyes. She expresses her gratitude for the experience before walking her path with pride off the stage.

8:40 p.m. – The second comeback battle is a clash between two young rappers: Lil’ Bri versus Dylan Jacob. Both of them were casualties of Sharaya J their first time around and they are each hoping for a rematch. Lil’ Bri is up first with “All I Do is Win” by DJ Khaled. She’s definitely rockin’ the stage but I can’t understand a single word she’s saying. I’ll pass on that. Next! Dylan is singing “A Milli” by Lil’ Wayne. He’s only performed for 10 seconds before I can clearly call this a landslide. Dylan has better flow, more star power and delivered the better performance. No contest!

8:45 p.m. – Diddy tells Lil’ Bri she used too many words for her breath control. He thinks Dylan has more breath control and more skill. Khaled liked Bri’s performance. He felt Dylan came ready to battle. The audience correctly chose Dylan as the winner of this battle. He wants to finish what he started and chose to challenge Sharaya J. Her response? “I’m gonna have to send you home for a second time, baby.”

8:55 p.m. – Sharaya J is up first performing “Mama Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J. She started off with that golden hood up and pulled it down as she laughed “Ha..Ha ha ha ha.” Yes! Sharaya J has been hit or miss with me all season but this is a HIT. I loved it. She got in Dylan’s face a bit at the end, but gave him a loving hug before she walked away. Dylan was next with “Quiet Storm” by Mobb Deep. Dylan is adorable and has serious star power, but he feels like dessert while Sharaya J is the main course.

9:00 p.m. – Meghan thinks they both gave it 100 percent. She still believes Dylan is the strongest challenger Sharaya has faced. Diddy likes Dylan’s vibe. He’s humble but talented. Diddy says there is a reason Sharaya is the longest seat-holder in Four history. She has improved with every single performance. Khaled said it will be a tough decision because they both “did their thing.” This deliberation felt easier than the last. The panel has chosen Sharaya J as the winner. She is the first artist to ever begin as an original member of The Four and advance all the way to the finale. Dylan is just 16 years old and could have a promising career. Diddy said he has already received two phone calls from major record labels inquiring about Dylan.

9:10 p.m. – The third comeback challenge of the night is Carvena Jones versus Ebon Lurks. They are both R&B singers. Carvena was a member of the original Four, but lost to Majeste Pearson. Personally, I’d love to have seen Majeste back instead. But let’s see how Carvena does. She’s singing “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. Nope! You can’t just stroll around the stage like you’re humming in the park as you take on the greatest song by the greatest female vocalist of all time. That was a HOT MESS. Ebon is singing “Congratulations” by Post Malone. Ebon has that smooth flow. He’s not a belter, but he’s got a good presence and swagger. I’ll take Ebon in this battle by a landslide. Diddy said he’d sign both of them. Really??? In the closest battle of the night, the audience chose Carvena. Blasphemy!

9:20 p.m. – Carvena has chosen to challenge Leah Jenae. In my “Pretty Woman” voice….Big mistake. HUGE! Leah Jenae is up first with “Focus” by H.E.R. This girl sings four notes and gives me goosebumps. She’s not only going to win this challenge, she’s winning the title this year. Mark my words. Her tone is unmatched. Leah Jenae the real deal. Carvena is next with “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone. This is a MUCH better song choice than her first. In fact, it suits her lower register perfectly. Go ahead Carvena! Prove me wrong for my harsh comments 10 minutes ago. That was a good performance, but she’s no challenge for Leah Jenae.

9:25 p.m. – Khaled tells Carvena he has been waiting for someone to hit him with an a capella like that. He applauded Leah for defending her seat. Diddy asks, “Who would Diddy sign?” He says Carvena’s voice is incredible and she did everything perfectly. He said Leah didn’t really do everything perfect. She’s so raw it just moves the listener and that’s what music is about. Diddy finishes by saying Leah’s voice is really special. I completely agree. Following the panel’s deliberation, Meghan announces Leah Jenae is the winner and has secured a place in the finale.

9:40 p.m. – The final comeback challenge is James Graham versus Jesse Kramer. James was fantastic throughout his run before losing to Leah Jenae last week. Jesse is an average singer whose rock star persona seems completely contrived. This should be a blowout. Jesse is up first singing “Come Together” by The Beatles. He does what he always does: growls and swings his hair. James is next with “Writing’s On the Wall” by Sam Smith. I don’t like this song, but I think James actually sings better than Sam. After what seemed like a mediocre performance, James killed the final falsetto note and the audience voted him into the final challenge!

9:47 p.m. – JeRonelle is the only member of the Four not locked in, which means he will automatically have to face James in the night’s final challenge. JeRonelle will sing first and he has chosen to perform “All of Me” by John Legend. Oh wow! I love this performance. I really thought he was pretty average last week, but I like this song for his voice much better. As if to say “I can do that too,” he blows up a huge falsetto note at the end. James is next with “Without You” by Harry Nilsson. I really wish he would have chosen another song. I have been dying for him to take on a George Michael hit. This was okay, but I really thought James could blow this out of the water and he didn’t. It was a closer challenge than I was expecting. Who will the panel choose?

9:52 p.m. – Khaled said he doesn’t think people expected JeRonelle to be doing as great as he’s doing right now. He thinks it will be a tough decision. Meghan said John Legend will love what JeRonelle has done with his song. She saw real emotion in James for the first time. She loved it. After careful conversation, thought and soul searching, the panel has chosen….

9:59 p.m. – James has taken the final seat in the finale. The grand finale of “The Four” will consist of James Graham, Leah Jenae, Whitney Reign and Sharaya J. I truly think they got these finalists right. My pick is Leah for the win! Who is your favorite? We’ll be back next week to see who is crowned the Season 2 champ.

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