Each of the remaining eight singers performs twice in this week's semi-finals as they vie for one of only five spots in next week's finale.
A rare misfire for one of this season’s favorites has us already sweating Tuesday’s semi-finals results on “The Voice” as only five of tonight’s eight performers are going to make it.
Kim Cruse had the biggest hill to climb. Despite having the best performance of the night last week, she had to sing to save her butt during the results show. She did that, but it means there’s a strange disconnect between her talent and her fans. She tried to reconnect by taking on a song Fantasia Barrino made an instantly classic moment on “American Idol.”
Hopefully, last week’s near-hit scares Kim’s fans enough to vote for her because she’s absolutely one of the most talented singers of the season and deserves to be in the finale! Unfortunately, she’s not the only one. In fact, a strong case could be made for way more than five of these artists.
This week, they sang twice. The first was the usual solo piece, while the other was a series of promotional tie-ins for “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” in the form of Whitney Houston duets. You know, ‘cause she’s so easy to sing for everyone. It was a good fit for a few but a fairly tall order for many.
("Unstoppable," Sia - 17, Severna Park, MD) Sia is a very difficult artist to cover and we could see some of those struggles come through in the softer moments with Parijita. She just didn’t push through as well on those. Then, toward the end of the piece, when she stripped the band back and went for a big note, she missed it in a big way -- which is almost unheard of for her. Parijita is one of this season’s powerhouses, but this was a bit of a misfire. She never sounded comfortable on the track and that kept us from feeling any connection to her or this performance. She’s still one of our favorites for her entire season, but this may have been her weakest moment.
Omar Jose Cardona [Team Legend]
("My Heart Will Go On," Celine Dion - 34, Orlando, FL) This is a complete tonal shift for Omar with the song choice, but he’s definitely got the pipes to pull it off. We didn’t love him opening the piece in his head voice, and nearly drowned out by the band, because his full voice has so much more character to it. We actually preferred when he stayed close to the melody and timing of the original song. It’s such an iconic track that everyone knows beat for beat, it really needs to be an amazing variance to work. And it’s such an ambitious song, it’s impressive enough if you can just nail it -- which Omar pretty much did. And that last note? We almost passed out just listening to it; we can’t imagine trying to sing it!
Brayden Lape [Team Blake]
("In Case You Didn’t Know," Brett Young - 16, Grass Lake, MI) The thinness of his voice was on display in the verses of this piece, but his sweat earnestness dominated the choruses in a way that left you feeling the warm and fuzzies. There’s so much charm in Brayden as a performer that you find yourself rooting for him to do well because he seems like such a good kid doing his best. On top of that, he really does seem to have that unquantifiable “it” thing that helps him stand out just a bit from the pack when he’s up there. He seems born to do this. We’d love to see him inject a little more oomph throughout his performances, but this was still a crowd-pleasing moment just as it was.
bodie [Team Blake]
("Without Me," Halsey - 29, Ladera Ranch, CA) It wasn’t one of his strongest vocals, but it may have been his coolest performance. The staging and backing dancers were great -- we were loving the white (Sia) wigs to match his natural look -- with bodie interacting with them throughout the piece in subtle ways. He is so comfortable as a performer, he really does know how to command the stage with very little. There were some great moments from him, and we appreciated the challenge of putting his spin on a pop track. The ending was particularly strong, which is a great way to score votes.
("If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away," Rhett Atkins - 22, Woodstock, GA) After saying he was bringing back the big cowboy hat this week, Bryce started this performance without it. But not to worry, it had its own stand right next to him so he could dramatically don it as he revealed the full band to “embiggen” the performance. As a moment, it was … a little cheesy. Bryce had a great sound going in the early part of the song, but it was odd after he went big because his voice didn’t really follow his body language. It was just more of what he was doing when seated. He’s got a pleasant tone and held a nice note at the end, but this was definitely one that sounded better with our eyes closed as we weren’t fully on board with the visual presentation. He may have overthought the hat.
Kim Cruse [Team Legend]
("Summertime," from “Porgy and Bess” - 30, Woodville, TX) The jazz club staging with patrons at little tables all around Kim really helped create the perfect vibe for this piece. Her voice, as always, is larger than life with the richest slow vibrato that grabs your attention with every wave. We’d have liked a little more variance in the temperament of the piece as it felt full throttle almost the whole way through (Fantasia showed how to hold an audience the first time she did this song on “American Idol”). Kim is incredible, but it can get a little overwhelming to be at Mach Kim for the entire duration of the song. After narrowly making the Top 8 somehow after an incredible performance last week, we’re a little worried that this might have left fickle fans a little wanting.
Justin Aaron [Team Gwen]
("Stand Up," Cynthia Erivo - 34, Junction City, KS) You don’t take on this song unless you feel it in your soul and Justin definitely did that. He sang the song for his wife and said he felt that every one before it was leading to this moment, and boy was it a moment. This song is an anthem and Justin poured everything he had in the tank and then some all over that stage. Add to it some inspired staging with the choir on the risers behind him (and their killer choreography), and it was a magical experience that left us moved. His voice was incredible throughout his range, that gravel at the end was that extra spice to take him over the top in what was easily the best outing yet for this one-chair turn.
Morgan Myles [Team Camila]
("Always Remember Us This Way," Lady Gaga, from “A Star Is Born” - 35, Nashville, TN) Morgan was in her feelings for this song but at just the perfect level to share them with us without breaking her ability to navigate a tough arrangement. She had power, she had these beautifully intimate moments, she had tenderness, she gave us everything of her in these few moments and it was transcendent. Morgan has had incredible performances along the way on her “Voice” journey, but this was one of the best performances in 22 seasons of this show. It was raw and gorgeous and real and so palpable, we were feeling it through the television.
("Greatest Love of All," Whitney Houston) Justin said he’s not as comfortable in the stratosphere Whitney built her career on, and Omar loves to spend time in, but he comported himself like he lived there. The pair harmonized flawlessly and Justin brought this incredible richness and texture to his voice that offered even more flavor than Omar’s effortless soaring vocals. Omar was impressive but Justin was impressive with heart, and that pushed him just a bit ahead in the head-to-head matchup. Justin continues to be a surprise, and we suspect as much to himself as to us, while Omar continues to need to find the emotional connection in his performances underneath his breathless talent.
Brayden Lape & bodie
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("I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)," Whitney Houston) Brayden had such a beautiful tone on the opening bars of this number; it’s this part of his talent that we first fell in love with. He is mesmerizing in these intimate heartfelt moments, and you know this was arranged just this way to help him shine (which it did). As expected, bodie was right in his wheelhouse with this piece, but we do have to give the edge to that innocence in Brayden’s voice as it suited the song a little better. The duo harmonized together beautifully, too. This was an artist’s performance with a lot of class that felt really special.
Bryce Leatherwood & Morgan Myles
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("Saving All My Love for You," Whitney Houston) We were getting Kelly Clarkson vibes from Morgan on this one; it’s incredible the power she can pull even while seated. Bryce was definitely more of a mismatch for Whitney’s soaring vocals but he found a way to do his thing on this track, saving those big belting notes for Morgan. He was a little shaky at the start, but they actually harmonized quite well together and created a very sweet performance by the end. But this was definitely yet another moment where Morgan shined brightest.
Parijita Bastola & Kim Cruse
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("I’m Every Woman," Whitney Houston) Not just the best duet, but one of the best performances of the night. We fully expected these two powerhouse voices to shine on a Whitney anthem and they did not disappoint. This challenge was tailor-made for them and their pairing was a no-brainer. It was clear they were in their element and having a blast playing off of one another vocally. The only criticism we could make is that they were being drowned out by the backing vocals. We wish they could have had more of a chance to show off isolated moments for each, but we can’t deny that they killed it.
Even using weighted scoring to average out scores across both rounds based on our rankings, we come up with the same Bottom 3 and Bottom 4 that you see above in our Solo Round rankings.
The only overall difference was that Kim Cruse moved up into second, bumping Justin Aaron into a tie with Bryce Leatherwood for third. On the other end, Omar Jose Cardona slipped to the bottom, leaving Brayden Lape and Parijita Bastola tied for sixth.
The problem is that these rankings are for this week and this week only, and it was a very uneven week for some of this season’s most outstanding artists. In particular, both bodie and Parijita really disappointed compared to how they usually represent themselves.
Omar has his moments, but he always seems to be so much about showing off his big range that we never really feel any connection to him, which leaves us feeling cold sometimes when he performs. Perhaps the best way to look at this is to figure who has to be in the finale.
For us, the finale makes no sense without Morgan, Kim, Justin, bodie or Parijita. At the same time, we can’t imagine America not putting at least one of Blake’s country singers in there, if not both of them. We’d have given the edge to Bryce as he’s definitely more ready, but Brayden had a really strong duet on an unlikely artist for him -- plus, he’s just got that undefinable thing.
If we had to pick, we have a bad feeling Kim might have to fight for her life again. That’s the other complication. The four that don’t make it automatically all get the chance to shine one more time. If it is Kim, she’ll likely have to square off against Omar, bodie and one of the country boys (probably Brayden).
Kim having to fight to stay alive last week proves it’s not just about the voice (ironically enough). Maybe both of Blake's country boys will make it -- he's got a big enough following himself for that to happen -- and Morgan will have to sing for her life after the performance of the night. That's what happened to Kim last week, proving we have no idea what you'll do!
"The Voice" airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.