Home / Entertainment News / The Voice recap: The Top 8 try for four semi-final spots

The Voice recap: The Top 8 try for four semi-final spots

The Voice

TV Show
Reality TV, Music
run date
Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys
Current Status
In Season

It’s pretty rare that The Voice actually pulls off a theme, but tonight, it seems to happen accidentally. So many of the song choices tonight seem to center on church or social betterment and unity and revolutions. Maybe it’s the political mood of this moment, or maybe it’s a happy accident, or maybe it’s because these people know that half of them are going home and they want to say a little something to the watching world before they go, but whatever the reason, there’s a whole lot of messaging going down on the voice.

As for the singing? It’s hit or miss. The standout moments are close to epic, but there are some not-so-great moments that remind us just how uneven this season’s batch of hopefuls really are. Let’s walk through each of the performances and see where that might land us, prediction-wise.

Team Kelly: Brynn Cartelli
“What the World Needs Now is Love” by Jackie DeShannon

She might be young, but Brynn Cartelli’s got a very mature attitude about making it to this moment. As she puts it, “I didn’t even think that I was turning a chair, so the fact that I’m here is awesome.” Tonight, she’s not just trying to convince us of her emotional advancement; she also wants us to know that vocally, she can hang with the rest of those left in this competition as well.

With a sultry, dreamy approach of this number, she’s able to lean in on those tones that do make her unique here. She’s not quite jazz or R&B but she’s also not rote pop, either. The gimmick here does get a little old about halfway through, though, so she tries throwing in some new growls and runs to break up the monotony near the end, which is clutch. If it’s not enough to get her to the finals, this is a fine performance to go out on.

Kaleb Lee and Pryor Baird
“Hillbilly Bone” / “Hillbilly Deluxe”

I’m b-b-b-b-bored. Okay, that’s a cheap joke, but it’s true. Admittedly, neither of these numbers being mashed up are on my regular playlist, so maybe Kaleb Lee and Pryor Baird have just put together a brilliant arrangement, and all the Hillbilly-themed song lovers of the world are just b-b-b-b-b-bowled over right now. What I will say is that the main reason I tend to hate these duets is that the singers usually cannot cooperate with one another to present one clean aesthetic, but with these two, it’s no trouble. They’re not carbon copies of one another — Kaleb is more general country crop, while Pryor is a sandpapery rock-ish singer — but they’re able to trade lyrics, lines, and even rhythms well enough to make this a cohesive, and even slightly entertaining showcase. Duets are still lame, but for a healthy portion of this one, it’s not totally terrible, even if still incomprehensible and repetitive to the point of yawn.

Team Alicia: Jackie Foster
“Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake

Jackie Foster has tried the grunge rocker thing before on this show, and it was only so-so. It was enough to get her through to this point, of course, but her style selections have been giving me a serious case of whiplash, so I’m not going to try and pretend to understand her personality or why this particular song choice is a fit for her.

However, it is worth noting that this isn’t some diet goth impression going on here. She’s actually quite attuned to the nuances of this song and smartly draws the notes back enough throughout the open that when she does get to the point of the massive scream to close it, it’s a surprise, and a pleasant one. The third act is pretty pitchy all around, but she still has done something cool here.

Kyla Jade and Spensha Baker
“What’s Going On” / “Rise Up”

Yeah, okay. Here’s the rare exception to the rule about duets being pure tragedy because this is pretty magic. Not only do the songs combined here blend well in style and spirit, but Spensha Baker has also slyly found the song to suit her voice. Maybe country music isn’t her true lane after all? Sure, Kyla Jade risks being relegated to background singer status a bit here, but together, the two sound just lovely. I’m still not crazy about this format, but this is a rare win for this tradition.

Team Adam: Rayshun LaMarr
“Imagine” by John Lennon

It’s no secret that Rayshun LaMarr has the sunniest personality, so this song choice seems to have the glove fit effect for sure, especially after he upgrades it with his own modern gospel persuasion. He’s fighting an uphill battle, of course, having nearly gone home twice already, so the chances of him making it to the next stage are probably slim. And frankly, this one winds up sounding a lot like his prior performances, but if he wants to leave us with a message that’s very him, this a good lyrical vehicle for him to drive home with.

Team Blake: Spensha Baker
“My Church” by Maren Morris

This feels like one of those songs that’s really trying to be something transcendent but doesn’t quite get there, doesn’t it? Spensha’s coming off of an excellent duet showing, so by nailing this one, she really does have a shot at seeing this thing through to its final week…BUT. You knew there was a but. The but is that this song seems to strip her sound of the texture that made her voice so compelling just a few moments before. She seems to be having a blast, which is certainly worth something, but it’s frustrating to watch someone with her chops have to hover at level 10 for so long that her voice drops out again and again and again. She’s better than this ultra ordinary song choice.

Team Blake: Kyla Jade
“Let It Be” by The Beatles

Annnd we’re back with another Big Message song from the Beatles, and here again, we’re going full gospel with it. The key difference, of course, is that Kyla Jade’s voice sounds like a thick, slow-moving syrup instead of the hot honey Rayshun LaMarr was working with. The contrast is pretty amazing, really, and it only works to Kyla’s benefit. Whereas Rayshun seemed to be cheering up the crowd, she’s offering a teachable moment about grace and patience and restraint, and with the very choir-esque backup vocals in play, it’s delicious. My only complaint is that she does get a little carried away at the end with the screams, but there’s so much truth to her delivery here, it’s hard to get mad at it. With this, she seals the deal on her advancement to the next round for sure. (Recap continues on next page)

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