John Legend and Kelly Clarkson, alongside Brett Eldredge, also took to the stage with stunning performances of their new music to show these contestants how it's done!
One of the nice things about the new “Voice” format is that we do seem to get more performances that matter on results night. One of the few shows of its type that still airs twice a week, “The Voice” has found a way to make both nights matter.
After the Top 9 performed Monday night, only four of them would advance to next week’s finale (the top vote-getter on each team). That meant the other five took to the stage live to sing for the Instant Save.
And with talent like this season’s crop of contestants, we’ll take any excuse to hear more from them -- especially with such a shortened “live shows” portion.
But five performances does not make an hour show, so we were also treated to an incredible Christmas duet with Kelly Clarkson and Brett Eldredge, while John Legend got “Wild” with a performance of his latest single.
Hopefully the contestants were all taking copious notes and paying close attention to these two world-class performers as their Coaches really showed how you do it. While nothing alike in delivery or even genre, Kelly and John both know how to bring it with voice and presence.
Monday night, we made our predictions as to who we thought would advance from each team, and who would emerge victorious from that brutal five-way Wild Card round. Were we right? Or should we say, were you right? Let’s find out together!
Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani, John Legend and Blake Shelton.
And just for fun, I'm going to rank the performances from worst to first for the Insta-Save to see who my favorites are, and then see how close you were to getting it right with your votes (i.e., agreeing with me).
We absolutely love the sheer joy Kelly had throughout this piece. She clearly loves performing so very much, and was just flattered to be sharing the stage with Brett. Add to that her incredible voice, which harmonized with his country intonations perfectly. There’s a sweetness mixed with pure belting power in Kelly’s voice that’s unmistakable. What an absolute blast.
Kicking off with an unexpected haunting tone and featuring a killer rock-and-roll guitar solo, this was a very cool version of John Legend we got. Those silky, jazzy vocals remain perfectly intact, but the song brought with it a whole different energy. It was, dare we say it, pretty “Wild.” This guy really can do anything.
We’re really down to the wire now, with nine contestants left and only four of them making it through this first round of results. These winners were the ones based on the voting that took place Monday night.
After sleeping on it, we still felt confident in our picks for who would win from each Coach’s team in this round -- well, except for one. Truth be told, we switched our pick from Ian Flanigan to Jim Ranger at the very last second, just because the Coaches gushed so much and he has been so consistent. Plus, we still thought Ian would nab the Wild Card (unless he blew his performance).
So let’s take one last look at what our picks were, and then see how we did.
Team Kelly: Cami Clune is a very interesting vocalist with some cool tricks up her sleeve, but there was just no way she could overpower Desz after Desz gave the best performance of the whole damned season! She just keeps reaching new heights.
Team Legend: Look, it’s no knock to Bailey Rae (who has one of the coolest country vibes we’ve seen in a long time) or Tamara Jade (who was just overshadowed Monday night), but no one can hold a torch to what John Holiday can do. And now that he’s learning to rein it in and emote better, this was his to lose.
Team Blake: This one really felt the most like a toss-up. Ian Flanigan and Jim Ranger have both been so consistently strong all season, and both faltered every so slightly Monday night. Based on his work in the trios round, we’d give it to Jim Ranger, and America agreed wholeheartedly.
Team Gwen: We kind of felt bad for Ben Allen, because like Bailey Rae he is a true authentic country soul the likes of which is rare even in country music. But he was also going up against a vocal virtuoso, dare we call him a prodigy, in Carter Rubin. There’s just no way Carter wasn’t going to take this.
For this last shot to impress the viewers at home, the five remaining contestants were allowed to pick their own songs, offering them a real opportunity to show off not just their voices, but their artistry and their identities.
Cami Clune [Team Kelly]
(“when the party’s over,” Billie Eilish) This is an incredibly challenging song for any artist to perform as it requires a huge range and the ability to break our hearts even in those lowest registers. Cami was definitely stronger in her head voice, but she brought a lot of heart to the song overall, and absolutely slayed the ending. She definitely has a very current vibe about her.
Tamara Jade [Team Legend]
(“Feeling Good,” Nina Simone) After a somewhat shaky start, Tamara quickly headed for the stratosphere and really nailed some incredible power notes. She didn’t quite hit her mark every time, but this might be her strongest performance, and most confident on this stage. She’s got a real talent, though we’re not sure it was consistent enough throughout the song to advance.
Bailey Rae [Team Legend]
(“Your Cheatin’ Heart,” LeAnn Rimes) There was a beautiful cry in Bailey’s voice throughout this song. We know we keep beating this dead horse, but they don’t make country vocalists like this anymore, which somehow makes her sound both classic and modern at the same time. It’s just a timeless vocal talent that comes so effortlessly and is so easy on the ears.
(“Anymore,” Travis Tritt) Ian has one of the most exciting voices in this competition, but these last two performances have not been the most exciting songs to showcase what makes him so special. This one felt very safe and stayed mostly in the same lane, but also failed to really connect with us in the way that we needed. He was our favorite coming, but now we’re not so confident.
Ben Allen [Team Gwen]
(“Prayed for You,” Matt Stell) It’s all about the storytelling when it comes to a country song like this. They’re definitely built for that emotional tug, but it takes the right kind of artist and voice to pull it out of the performance and the audience. Ben is definitely one of those singers, effortlessly connecting with the viewers with a flawlessly executed emotional performance.
This turned into a much tighter race for that last remaining spot in next week’s five-person finale. Ian has one of the coolest voices on the show, but he didn’t really put a shine on it this week. Tamara, meanwhile, doesn’t have the most unique voice, but she really put on a show.
Cami showed just how current she is, which should help her connect with younger viewers -- how many of those are there? -- while both Bailey and Ben turned in rock solid, old-school, heartfelt country music performances.
But since it was so much tighter, we have to look back at overall stage presence and performances across the season and we kept coming back to Ian. There’s a reason we thought he’d take this and that’s because no one sounds like him. So with nobody blowing him out of the water, we stuck by our guy.
And then it happened and we went five for five with our predictions this week as Ian Flanigan won the Instant Save vote to make up the final slot in the finale.
Talk about a wildly diverse and exciting Top 5, with Ian joining Desz, Carter, John and Jim to battle it out for the Season 19 crown next week. This has to be one of, if not the strongest group of finalists this show has ever delivered.
“The Voice” wraps it all up as the Top 5 take the stage next Monday and Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.