Fans picked the songs and it resulted in the strongest overall show of the season -- so those same fans could be in for a very shocking elimination!
It was fan week on “The Voice,” which meant fans picked the songs each of the Top 11 performed, which gives a pretty good indication of what kind of artist they’re presenting as.
Did the fan choices line up with what the artist sees for themselves, or were they caught by surprise? It could be a choice that spells the end for one artist, as only one will fall just short of next week’s Top 10.
As it turned out, though, the fans did an incredible job of picking songs, bringing out the best we’ve seen from almost every single artist still singing in this competition. And we’re not talking marginal improvements, we’re talking jaw-dropping moment after jaw-dropping moment.
Maybe the fans know these artists better than the Coaches do and even better than the artists know themselves. There was only one choice that didn’t quite work for us at all, nor did it really make sense to us.
The biggest shocker for us, though, was how upside down some of our rankings went. As the night progressed and it became clear that virtually everyone was going to be incredible, we found ourselves having to rank great below great, leaving some truly fan-favorite and stunning artists toward the bottom.
How will America decide? With everyone so close, we could be in for a shocking result, and the artists should be thankful that only one of them is going home this week.
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 so we can see who emerges as my Top 10 -- and then see if you get it right, i.e. agree with me.
(“Reckless Love,” Cory Asbury - 29, Tampa, FL) This one was a bit of a surprise, as we know that Jeremy felt connected to this song and his spirituality. And yet, the first half of it felt very underwhelming. He was almost overshadowed in several parts by the band, and he was flat a surprising amount of the time through this piece. Jeremy started off so strong, but it feels as if he’s been fading a bit in recent weeks. He’s beloved for his story, and he may need a little of that to survive.
Wendy Moten [Team Blake]
(“Freeway of Love,” Aretha Franklin - 57, Memphis, TN) Not sure on some of the pauses to delay delivery of each word, as it distracted from the rhythm. Her entrance into her final wail didn't work at all, and we don’t even think she needed that wail. Wendy is a powerhouse singer, and while this song didn’t offer a lot of big moments, it was in her command of it that she shined. It might have come across a bit safe, but that’s because of how strong her voice is. We’d have liked a little more emotion and passion in her physical presence on stage, but she should have time in future weeks to get her groove back.
Jim & Sasha Allen [Team Ariana]
(“Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” Creedence Clearwater Revival - 57/19, Newtown, CT) On paper, this one felt like more of a mismatch between song and artist than any other on the night, but the fans were maybe thinking of this more coffeehouse take we got. The harmonies were still on point and killer, while we were kind of digging the gentler vibe. There’s a grime on those original vocals that Sasha definitely can’t match, but he didn’t try to. Ariana’s note to mix up the second verse also created a special moment for Sasha, while Jim was consistent in holding things down in support, even as he enjoyed his own solo moments. It wasn’t the most exciting performance, but it had a very pleasant laid back vibe, and should be enough.
(“Alone,” i-Ten [as performed by Heart] - 31, Killeen, TX) Did Holly miss the lead-in for the second chorus and that’s why she just belted out a random run there? Either way, it was an effective choice as part of a very strong vocal performance. We hated the staging at the top with her walking away from the judges, but she nailed the proper cadence of this song’s delivery. It’s about those tender moments and that build into the chorus. Without the quieter verses, there’s no reason to care, but Holly absolutely had us sold on every facet of this piece -- including that (maybe) ad-lib.
Girl Named Tom [Team Kelly]
(“More Hearts Than Mine,” Ingrid Andress - 20-26, Pettisville, OH) Honestly, is this GNT’s (Kelly’s shortened their name and we’re stealing it!) season to lose? It just seems they’re getting stronger and more confident. They may not be straight country, but they did this track proud, with each of them coming out strong in their solo portions. But, as always, it’s those sweet harmonies that put them a step ahead of so many other artists in this competition. It’s hard to break out after these shows anymore, but GNT seems to have real commercial appeal.
Lana Scott [Team Blake]
(“I Hope,” Gabby Barrett - 29, Chesapeake, VA) We are so glad that America gave Lana a current country song to sink her vintage pipes into because it may have been her strongest outing yet. She had so much energy, and injected a lot of her own personality into it with how she slightly tweaked the arrangement. She also got to showcase her lower and upper register, as well as belting out those big notes. Perhaps most significantly, though, was that she was able to bring authenticity to the lyric. This is an angry song filled with passion and pain, and we felt that from her. Blake agreed with us, calling it her breakout moment and a moment that completely changed the landscape of the season.
(“The Show Must Go On,” Queen - 28, Lockport, NY) Fans clearly get Joshua’s theatricality, giving him an epic challenge with Freddie Mercury. It was a chance for Joshua to show a more commercial side to his voice outside of Broadway. Freddie has so much depth and texture in his voice, Joshua’s sounded just a hair thin in comparison. But he was there, with that same soaring range, that same power and the emotional dramatis personae the song and Freddie’s spirit demands. This is definitely his wheelhouse, and easily his most impressive vocal acrobatics yet.
Jershika Maple [Team Legend]
(“How Can I Ease the Pain,” Lisa Fischer - 25, Killeen, TX) This was simply a command performance by a true, consummate artist. Jershika has always had incredible pipes, but it feels like she’s finding her artistry along the way this season. There were so many places for her to play vocally, and her choices felt tasteful and true to the original, while also showcasing some of her own individuality. In a sea of flashier contestants, Jershika is the quiet stealth bomber that seems to get overlooked at times, but could just sneak in and win the whole thing.
Hailey Mia [Team Kelly]
(“Elastic Heart,” Sia - 14, Clifton, NJ) Every facet of this vocal performance was beautifully choreographed. Sia sings with so much emotion, it’s astonishing that Hailey was able to match it. Her fans gave her a real challenge and she rose to the occasion with -- as always -- a voice so far beyond her years. It’s the different layers she can tap into that are so compelling to watch. She had angst, at times her voice seemed to float above the room and at other times it cut right through to the heart. She’s such a special vocalist for such a tender age.
(“Diamonds,” Rihanna - 23, East Point, GA) Congratulations, America made the right choice in saving Gymani, but how was she in danger in the first place when she’s capable of something like this? That was a beautifully unique interpretation of a song so well-known you could instantly pick out all the tweaks and changes she made. But she never sacrificed the integrity of the original. Instead, she made it her own with nuance and a lot more emotional resonance than Rihanna had in it. With grit and control, she left us breathless with each vocal choice she made throughout. This track or the fan support must have inspired her, because it was leaps and bounds ahead of her prior performances.
Paris Winningham [Team Blake]
(“Use Me,” Bill Withers - 33, Jacksonville, FL) The interplay with the backup singer, the grit, the carefully harnessed power, Paris is back to his winning ways with his best performance in weeks. His fans clearly know exactly where he belongs as he sounded both throwback cool and totally current, injecting a ton of soulful passion into this classic track. Blake said there’s as much a place for Paris in popular music today as there is for Chris Stapleton in country, and that’s a true parallel as both artists have that emotional delivery that’s so rare and so palpable, you find yourself having raw emotions from the first sound of their voice.
We’re as stunned by our rankings as you are, but thanks to some incredible fan picks and the strongest night of performances we’ve seen all season, it’s actually a pretty close eight- or nine-way tie toward the top of the rankings. The fact that Wendy Moten is in our number ten slot says it all.
Wendy is an incredible vocalist, she just failed to really stand out. Who knew that as the night progressed, just being incredible might not be enough. A hint of boring could spell doom for the fan-favorite, but we’re not so sure that it will be Wendy.
We suspect that a Bottom Three -- if they reveal that -- could likely include Wendy, but she wouldn’t be the one to go. Jeremy Rosado, who’s in our bottom position, is a good candidate for the danger zone, as is Holly Forbes, as her song may not connect as well with the fans as some others did on such a strong night.
Of those three, though, if Jeremy’s story and history is enough to endear him personally to fans, then it could be the end of the road for Holly. It’s definitely going to be hard to keep making these predictions, though, if everyone is going to bring such strong game to every performance!
“The Voice” continues Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.