It was all in service of an hour-long show that needs some padding. The way it was structured was that the Bottom 3 were slowly -- very, very, very slowly -- revealed throughout the night. Then, they were all tasked to sing one more time for an Instant Save vote from the viewers.
But only one person would be saved, leaving two to exit the competition. Could Kelly hang on to her four artist lead after Hailey Mia was the Wild Card save last week? Could two members of the same team go?
Anything could happen this week, as the doors were thrown open and it’s every man, woman, duo or trio for themselves. So who did enough to survive the week and move on?
Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Ariana Grande 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 favorite was, and then see how close you were to getting it right with your votes (i.e., agreeing with me).
(“Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” Stevie Wonder) A tall order for John to put on his team, but it actually elevated all of them. It also showed that side by side on a similar track, Shadale can’t hold a candle to what Jershika Maple does. Meanwhile, Joshua continues to impress us more and more after a slow start with the power of his voice. The whole performance was a lot of fun, we loved their matching looks, and everyone sounded incredible with more runs than a pair of pantyose caught in a briar patch.
Team Kelly (w/ Kelly Clarkson)
(“U Move I Move,” John Legend f. Jhene Aiko) We’ve seen a lot of Coaches perform with their teams, but this may be the single greatest performance of that type this show has ever produced. It was otherworldly. All of these voices came together so beautifully. And Girl Named Tom clearly inspired them, as we had harmonies coming in all over the place. John Legend was treated to this surprise performance of his song, but we bet he had no idea what a treat it would be. That could be released right now just as they performed it because it was flawless with powerful work from each and every person on that stage.
Carson Daly wasted no time in delivering a few results at the top of the show, inviting the entire Top 13 to the stage. It’s a veritable murderer’s row of talent, as every single one of them has been great at one point or another. But they weren’t all great Monday night.
As a reminder, we’ll share our rankings of all Top 13 acts from the performance show below:
Jershika Maple [Legend]
Jeremy Rosado [Kelly]
Wendy Moten [Blake]
Holly Forbes [Ariana]
Jim & Sasha Allen [Ariana]
Joshua Vacanti [Legend]
Girl Named Tom [Kelly]
Paris Winningham [Blake]
Lana Scott [Blake]
Hailey Mia [Kelly]
Ryleigh Park [Ariana]
While we had Ryleigh and Shadale in our Bottom 3, we weren’t at all confident that this is how things would shake out. Our prediction to go home was actually Ryleigh and Lana, with Hailey joining them in the Bottom 3. But we’ve been horrifically wrong before. Did it happen again?
Keeping us in suspense for a ridiculously long amount of time before the big reveal, it was good news for Girl Named Tom, moving easily into the Top 11. They were joined by Jershika Maple, so it looks like we’re playing the popularity game as we know these are two of the top acts in the competition.
Next into safety was Holly Forbes, who was stellar closing out the night. As we moved to Team Blake, we knew that Wendy Moten would be our next safe artist, and deservedly so. She’s just so polished. Hailey Mia was next, which caught us by surprise. Maybe it was just us less enamored with her this week, though she’s blown us away most of this season.
Joshua Vicanti was then followed not so closely (damn these dramatic pauses!) by Jim & Sasha Allen, and Paris Winningham. And then there were 5, and we were starting to feel pretty good about most of our bottom rankings. At the least we felt good about our Bottom 2. With Hailey safe -- well, we’ve never been sure if country music would rally around Lana or not.
After even more agonizing close-ups and dramatic music, Carson Daly shared the good news with Jeremy Rosado and Lana Scott, so country music did come through for her, even after a pretty shaky night. That could bode well for her down the road as that is one of the biggest fan bases that watches this show.
That meant, it was our Bottom 2 artists, Ryleigh Park and Shadale, battling it out against Gymani, who we had way up in our Top 5, for the Instant Save. Based on what we’ve seen from all of them throughout this season, Gymani -- who is all heart when she sings -- should mop the floor with her opponents.
Shadale [Team Legend]
(“Breathe,” Faith Hill - 29, Douglasville, GA) Whatever note she was hoping to start this song on, Shadale did not find it. It was a disastrous opening few bars before she hit a bigger part and settled in. Clearly nerves were getting the best of her, coming out first and being so close to elimination. We saw her at her best with Team Legend earlier, and she again hit a big wailing note -- but the rest of the song leading up to that point was such a mess, the whole thing was too inconsistent.
Ryleigh Plank [Team Ariana]
(“Dangerous Woman,” Ariana Grande - 20, Fort Myers, FL) If Ryleigh had done this Monday night, she might not be in this position at all. If she hadn’t came in off-key at the biggest part halfway into the song, it might have been enough. Still, this was who she is as an artist and it was wonderful to see. She’s got so much attitude up there and we were feeling every bit of it.
Gymani [Team Kelly]
(“Sweet Love,” Anita Baker - 23, East Point, GA) It was kind of cool how Gymani hung out just behind the beat in the early measures, but with intention. She built slowly into the most confident point of her voice, showing a sultry lower register similar to Anita, while also having that raspy power that makes her so special in this competition. We love the R&B with a bit of grit, giving us Tina Turner vibes at times. There were runs, scats and everything but the kitchen sink in that performance. That’s how you fight! We don’t know why she’s here, but hopefully it won’t be for long.
Honestly, after Shadale whiffed, we thought we knew how this was going to go. But Ryleigh came out with a statement piece that’s as strong as we’ve seen her all season long. It also felt more authentically her than Monday’s performance, which means it might have come one day too late.
Meanwhile, Gymani knows exactly who she is as an artist and she took even that to the next level. Gymani should have never been here, but as soon as she wound up in the Bottom 3, it was pretty much curtains for whoever else was there.
Ryleigh gave her personal best, and it was good, but there was no way it would be good enough. Plus, we wanted our rankings to be right, with our Bottom 2 lining up with America’s Bottom 2. We’re rarely on the same page, so wouldn’t it be exciting to be there … for now?
Thankfully, America got this one right and Gymani earned her way back into the fight. Maybe, like Hailey last week, this will galvanize her fanbase enough that she won’t have to do this all over again next week.
“The Voice” continues Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.