In one of the most shocking semi-final eliminations in Voice history, one front running coach was left without a single team member moving forward into the finale. In addition, Carson Daly introduced a new twist, stating that each contestant would pair up with another to perform a duet that would be eligible for votes.
In this recap, I will discuss Monday night’s performances as well as the bloodbath that occurred during the results night on Tuesday.
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Part 1: Individual Peformances
Hunter Plake-“With or Without You” // Grade: B
After Hunter’s dominant past few weeks, I was shocked to see the indie singer open the show in what many viewers call “the death spot.” However, my initial reaction was immediately set aside when I found out that Gwen had given him “With or Without You” by U2, arguably one of the greatest modern day classics.
Unfortunately, this was not Hunter’s greatest showcase. Don’t get me wrong, Hunter has been a favorite of mine ever since his mesmerizing rendition of “Dancing on my Own” in the Battles, but I was let down by this performance. The beginning verses were especially rough, his voice barely audible for quite some time, but it was refreshing once he went back to exerting the full power of his voice. Even still, the entire performance as a whole felt dry compared to the creative covers that Hunter has done in the past.
The coaches were stunned by Hunter’s performance. Blake called this his best performance and Gwen vouched for her team member, citing his creativity. I wasn’t nearly as impressed but I was still praying that Hunter’s massive fan base would come to his rescue.
TSoul-“Ain’t No Way” // Grade: C+
I was certain that this would be the end of the road for TSoul heading into this week, but after learning his song choice I thought he would have a chance. “Ain’t No Way” is a song that has had large success on the show from singers like Season 6’s belter Sisuandra Lewis and Season 10’s finalist Hannah Huston, so I was eager for his performance.
Once again, I was significantly let down. TSoul has never been a favorite of mine, but coming off of an extremely successful week with a Billy Vera classic, I was hoping he had made improvements to his over-the-top theatrics and his flawed pitch. Nope. This performance was especially off-key with note choices that had me scratching my head. I have no doubt in my mind that TSoul could have had a breakout moment but it was as if he was trying too hard. Either way, no one can deny the fact that TSoul poured his heart and soul (no pun intended) into this song.
Of course the coaches approved of TSoul’s efforts, but their praise lacked the excitement that they had when commenting on Hunter’s performance. Regardless, it was clear TSoul’s strained showing was not going to compete with belters like Jesse and Chris.
Brennley Brown-“Suds in the Bucket” // Grade: B+
My prediction was that Brennley would edge out Chris for the third spot in the final (behind Lauren and Hunter), but after learning that the youngest singer in the competition (thanks Carson) would be singing “Suds in the Bucket,” I wasn’t so sure. I knew Chris would be coming out with all the stops, and was surprised that Gwen gave Brennley a song out of the folk-country singer’s usual comfort zone on such a risky week.
This was the first time of the night that I was pleasantly surprised by an individual performance. While this certainly wasn’t Brennley’s best, there was really nothing wrong with her vocal. The only reason this performance didn’t live up to her others is due to the trifling nature of the song.
The coaches gushed about her performance, but it was mostly Gwen, Brennley’s coach, would was dishing most of the praise. I wasn’t sure where Brennley’s rendition would put her with so many performances left, but I definitely didn’t count her out either.
Lauren Duski-“Ghost in This House” // Grade: A
Looks like we have a winner America! Consistently, Lauren has charted on iTunes fantastically and has emerged as the frontrunner. I don’t want her to win (even though she will) because she is such an obvious choice and I prefer an underdog, and I also am sick of country singers winning almost every season. Regardless, she is an amazing talent and definitely a favorite of mine.
I was unfamiliar with this song (not a huge fan of country music) but she tackled a classic and did an AMAZING job with it. She is an outstanding storyteller, and she is always a refresher from all the loud, soulful voices that fill up the competition. I predicted that she would go to #1 on the iTunes chart with this performance (spoiler: i was right) and was so thrilled after this performance.
Once again, the coaches raved about the season’s frontrunner, and I found that after this performance and a disappointing one from Hunter (the other favorite) she lengthened her lead over the rest of the competition.
Chris Blue-“Take Me To the King” // Grade: A-
When I heard Chris, an early frontrunner but not a favorite of mine, would be singing a religious song, I knew Alicia was set on having a team member in the finals. This song could not have been more timely, as I knew right away America was going to fall for it as they did for religious performances in the past (example: “Break Every Chain” by Paxton Ingram, “How Great Thou Art” by Koryn Hawthorne).
This actually turned out to be a least favorite performance of his for me; it just wasn’t my style. However, I understand that he destroyed the song and that this was one of the best vocals in Voice history. Not only did his voice blow TSoul’s (his biggest rival) own performance out of the water, but his emotion equaled that of Team Alicia’s early elimination, Stephanie Rice.
No shocker; the coaches adored the performance. Chris has always seemed to be a favorite of the judge panel, and this week was no different. The feeling I was receiving from the coaches and the audience told me that Chris was going to have a very successful result show the next day.
Vanessa Ferguson-“Superstar” // Grade: A
Explosive songstress, Vanessa Ferguson, seemed like a shoo-in for the top 8 up until last week when she barely escaped an Instant Save bloodbath over Team Adam’s Lilli Passero and Mark Isaiah. This week I was expecting her to be an automatic Bottom Two contestant, but this song choice by Luther Vandross made me reconsider.
Vanessa did not disappoint; she was fantastic, delivering her best live performance all season. This was (rather unexpectedly) my favorite showing of the night. Her voice was clear and strong, with no pitch problems in the slightest (*cough*tsoul*cough*). She even looked fabulous! I was completely captivated by this rendition.
The coaches agreed with me, giving her a standing ovation and praising her for her impressive comeback. I still didn’t know if this would be enough considering she had lost her momentum because of last week’s poorly recepted performance, but I was hoping for the best.
Jesse Larson-“I Was Wrong” // Grade: A
Team Adam’s sole survivor was going to have to pull out something extraordinary if he was looking to advance to the finals, and he DEFINITELY did. I love “I Was Wrong” by Chris Stapleton, and when I discovered one of my all-time favorite contestants would be singing it I freaked out. Adam has been nailing it with song choices for his remaining rocker, and he may have convinced me that Jesse has the strongest voice in the entire competition.
Wow. Closely behind Vanessa, Jesse was a favorite of mine on semi-finals night. He stunned me (and Adam) beyond belief. This was the perfect time for Jesse to display his expert skill with a guitar as well as display his impeccable range. For sure, Jesse’s best vocal up to date.
Adam’s praise for Jesse was unlike I’ve ever seen. I’ve been watching this show for quite some time and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a coach vouch for someone so intently, not even Pharrell and Hannah Huston! Jesse contended with the best tonight, shedding his common title of a “middle of the pack contestant.”
Aliyah Moulden-“I Can Only Imagine” // Grade: A-
And lastly, my favorite, and rising star, Aliyah Moulden. This 15-year-old has emerged as the dark horse of the season after her emotional cover of Labyrinth’s “Jealous” to which she dedicated to her late father. “I Can Only Imagine” was surely a perfect choice to ensure a spot in the final for this young talent (on a side note, all the coaches, besides Gwen, were picking excellent songs).
WOW. After closing out the night with such an incredible performance, Aliyah was beaming ear to ear. Her vocals were extremely surprising to me, hitting notes that even Vanessa or Chris might struggle to nail. I was on the edge of my seat as she continued through the song with the newfound momentum she was gaining. The only thing that may have distracted me was the strangely choreographed dancing, but let’s forget about that!!
The coaches loved Aliyah’s rendition, and I was starting to feel that Aliyah may have locked herself a spot in the top 4. Trust me, I (and probably Blake and Aliyah) was thinking about this performance for many hours after the show aired. STUNNED.
Part 2: Duets
Vanessa Ferguson and Chris Blue-“If I Ain’t Got You” // Grade: A
This performance was captivating. Surprisingly, Vanessa held her own against the dynamic vocalist that is Chris, and I would have to give the edge to her in this performance. Definitely, a rock-solid performance from Team Alicia’s remaining artists.
Aliyah Moulden and Hunter Plake-“Let it Go” // Grade: B-
Oh my. How is it that my two favorite contestants singing a favorite song of mine were the worst duet of the night? The harmonies; they were terrible. Alone, the two sounded incredible but their voice did not blend well at all. If I had to choose a winner, it would be Hunter because his voice better embodied this song.
TSoul and Jesse Larson-“I Wish” // Grade: A-
I thought that this would be the weakest pairing out of the four duets, but it certainly wasn’t. This turned out to be my personal favorite duet performance of the night. While I don’t think TSoul was as vocally exceptional as Jesse (who sounded fantastic), both delivered exciting energy to this classic song.
Brennley Brown and Lauren Duski-“Good Hearted Woman” // Grade: B+
This performance was good, and nothing more. Neither of the country powerhouses stood out or sounded bad, and that was due to the fact that the song choice limited their ability to showcase their talents. I would give Brennley an edge, but overall this whole performance was easy to forget among the jaw-dropping individual showings.
Part 3: Results
On Tuesday night, Carson announced that the three top contestants would automatically receive a spot in the finale while the two least vote-getters would immediately be eliminated. The remaining three would sing again with one of them being instantly saved and becoming the fourth finalist. Carson also revealed that four solos (Lauren, Chris, Aliyah, and Hunter) and one duet (Vanessa and Chris) had entered the top 10 on iTunes and would receive the multiplier.
Based on the iTunes rankings, it was no shock who the top three were: Chris, Lauren, and Aliyah.
Then, Carson announced that Jesse, Hunter, and Brennley would sing for the fourth and final spot in the finale.
That meant that Vanessa (aghhh) and TSoul would automatically be eliminated in seventh and eighth place.
Part 4: Instant Save
Brennley Brown-“Warrior” // Grade: A-
I loved Brennley’s performance. It was heartfelt, emotional, and it was definitely a fight song. Her vocals were perfect, and she even introduced a little bit of a growl during the song to America. She would have fared much better had this been the song that she performed on Monday.
Hunter Plake-“Love Runs Out” // Grade: A-
I was surprised Hunter didn’t go an emotional route for the Instant Save. Instead, he went for One Republic’s “Love Runs Out” and while he sounded great and performed excellent, I’m just not sure if the song choice was right for an Instant Save. This was a song option that would have been good for a top 12 show.
Jesse Larson-“Tennessee Whiskey” // Grade: A
Jesse chose the perfect song to close out the Instant Save. He stunned with impeccable vocal prowess and excellent pitch. Jesse went from zero to hero real fast.
Going into the Instant Save, I would have pegged Hunter as the likely winner due to his superior iTunes placements since the lives started. However, once Jesse start belting out a fan-favorite song, I knew that things might have been over for Gwen’s rising star. America agreed, and Jesse was saved by a large margin over Hunter and Brennley, thus leaving Gwen without an artist in the finals. It is shocking to me that neither Hunter or Brennley, early favorites, are in the final this season, but I am excited for what Jesse will deliver next week.
So there you have it; the semi-finals bloodbath has concluded. I will see you next week where a winner will be crowned, and that winner will most likely be Lauren Duski.
-Sean from Competition Shows