In this week’s penultimate installment of The Voice, each team was down to its final two members, and America’s votes as well as the judges’ input would be sending one singer to rep for their team in the finals next week.
Tonight, no singers were given the night off, and, in judge Christina Aguilera’s words, it was time to “go big or go home.”
The semifinals reminded us a little bit of prom night, complete with dramatic dresses and dapper suits, sweeping last dances, weepy nostalgic parents, and more than a slight case of the nerves.
Giving us a chance to get to know the singer’s family and support systems behind the scenes, it made it even harder to imagine saying goodbye to half of these amazingly talented singers. But that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
First up, Tony Lucca, who was feeling “victorious” after his risky performance paid off last week. Ready to step out even further, he went with the “How Do You Like Me Now?” by The Heavy, rolling the dice again with a challenging song.
Tony came out with two slinky backup dancers and a new sexy attitude, and gotta say: we likey Tony. With a seductive swagger that he may have learned from JT in his Mouskeeter days, a suited up Tony was on point with both his velvety vocals and smooth stage presence.
Judge Blake Shelton agreed, calling it “bad ass,” while Cee Lo Green, who was sans Purrfect the cat, instead donning a silk screened T-shirt homage to her image, admitted it was a “pleasant surprise.” Once again, Tony’s daring choice worked in his favor, with coach Adam telling him that “this was the move.”
It’s hard to believe what Erin Willett has gone through throughout the entire run of this show, and like us, coach Blake was in awe of how far she’s come. We got a chance to hear from her mom and brother, which reminded us of her noticeably absent late father, who memory surely been her biggest influence throughout this competition.
We guess the name of the game this week was sophistication. Looking near unrecognizable with flowing hair, in a floor length black dress, Erin glided on stage singing an original arrangement of Usher’s “Without You.” Beautiful and full of tenderness, Erin’s voice conveyed both a vulnerability and power that clearly even overwhelmed her, shown by her emotional display post performance.
Judge Cee Lo said he was just “enjoying himself” tonight with her song and Coach Blake praised her talent and her “strength,” a clear nod to her bittersweet journey to this exact moment.
Lifelong singer Chris Mann decided to go back to his operatic roots this week, choosing to sing the classic Italian aria “Ave Maria.”
Chris was so moved by coach Christina’s decision to allow him the chance to “do what he wanted to do,” he was teary-eyed in his camera confessional, even before he made it on stage.
On a dramatic set filled with candles, and a crowd of candle bearing audience members, Chris got to live out his dream and sing what he knew best.
And while we admire the guy for staying true to who he is, we got to admit that we weren’t exactly thrilled with his performance. Obviously classically trained, we’re just not sure, if he did go on to win the competition, where he would fit in among the Rihannas and Justin Biebers of today’s superstar world.
Cee Lo paid him the highest of compliments, saying he was the “epitome of this show” and judge Adam Levine noted that it was “incredible to see.” For Christina, it was an almost otherworldly performance, with her saying she felt like the “the heavens moved.” In fact, she was so moved that she got up on stage herself just to give her mentee a supportive hug.
We’d have to agree with Jamar Rogers’ mother who said that he was given his voice to “move people.” Coming off of such a high energy performance last week, Jamar slowed it down this time, but made sure to add his own electro style input.
Fittingly choosing to sing “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” he showed us that we really had no idea how much this sweet dude could do. In what was probably his most low-key performance, Jamar still blew us away with his energy and fantastic powerful voice.
Judge Adam just plain enjoyed his performance, quite simply saying that he was “a fan.” Coach Cee Lo, meanwhile, loved the stripped down bare aspect, calling his entire story “a bestseller” and a “success story.” The way he’s been singing, we don’t doubt it.
After a Team Adam and CeeLo air time filler performance, and some more time killing check in with Christina Milian in the Sprint social media lounge (spiced up by some photo bombing shenanigans by Chris Mann) we got back to business with Jermaine Paul.
Even though the judges and most of America fell for his voice from the first note, Jermaine Paul’s wife wasn’t quite as easy to convince. After at first shutting down his sultry singing, thinking it was all a part of his game, she finally got on board with him once she realized what kind of talent he really had.
This guy sure does love his ‘80s epic rock, continuing tonight, with Journey’s “Open Arms.” Dedicated to his wife, Jermaine, in his open-chested button-down, came in and made Christina wish she “had pressed her button” all those weeks ago.
Judge Adam congratulated him on shedding his “background singer” persona and finally moving into the spotlight while coach Blake told him that he was “peaking” at the absolute right time.
Ms. Parker has probably been one of the biggest surprises in this competition, and she’s only been getting better as the competition has progressed. Coach Adam was also super jazzed for his mentee and with her song choice this week, The Fugees’ “Killing Me Softly,” we could see he was ready for her to, well, kill it.
While Lauryn Hill should pretty much have a copyright on her version of the tune, we appreciated Katrina’s uptempo version. Although to be honest, we would have liked a little bit more of a despairing tone, given the song is actually kind of a downer (in the best possible way).
Judge Blake praised her rehearsed quality, while Christina, always one to keep it real, thought it was a little by the book, but still admitted she was a “star.”
With all the talent already on stage, it’s easy to forget that the coaches themselves are topping the charts on a daily basis. But they find a way to remind us, as shown by judge Blake’s performance of his next hit single “Over.”
After Blake, we had Lindsey Pavao, who’s been the sleeper hit of this season with her strange voice and even stranger nervous energy. Calling her “beautiful and unique,” Christina clearly keyed in on Lindsay’s sensitive edge and shy demeanor, aligning her well with Bonnie Raitt’s “Skinny Love.”
The boho chic themed performance was pleasant, but not necessarily a game changer for the young singer. Judge Adam praised her original quality and judge Blake called it “refreshing.” Coach Christina must have been really feeling the love tonight, as she got up on stage once again to congratulate her mentee (or to get some more camera time).
After a jean jacket-heavy performance of Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” by Teams Blake and Christina, we rounded out the night with Cee Lo’s Juliet Simms.
A natural talent, Juliet has never had any formal training, but has been pursuing her singing dreams since she was 16. And in her possibly final performance, she went for that dream with James Brown’s electrifying “This Is a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World.”
If it is a man’s world, then we were glad for this one woman. With a gritty but piercing tone, Juliet somehow managed to turn the R&B tune into a kicking rock anthem, drawing everyone into her own world.
After a deafening standing ovation that Carson called the “loudest ever,” the judges all pretty echoed the audience’s sentiments. Adam gushed over the young rockstar, saying that it was “unbelievable” while coach CeeLo clearly couldn’t have been happier with her performance, telling her, point blank, that she “murdered” the song.
Tomorrow we find out our final four, and next week is the finale of The Voice.