It was a relatively good night on “The Voice,” as the Top 8 performed on the Memorial Day installment of this speedy march toward a finale.
And what better way to celebrate Memorial Day than a song about sitting around drinking beer? And who better to sing said song than Blake Shelton? He did “Boys ‘Round Here,” which is essentially honky tonk rap, and he was incredibly cute as he sang it. Carson Daly introduced him as the “rarely sober national treasure.”
Continuing with the beer theme, Carson tried to talk to Shakira in her mother tongue, and finally succumbed to the first sentence he learned in high school Spanish: “Una cerveza, por favor.”
In their usual pre-performance chat, the coaches all tried to sell their remaining contestants. Shakira sounded desperate about trying to keep Sasha Allen in play. About Michelle Chamuel, Usher actually said, “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.”
In Michelle’s honor, Usher wore big black frame glasses, which later earned him the nickname Urkel after Holly Tucker’s performance. As Holly stood there faking a laugh but mostly staring blankly, I was reminded of that “New Girl” episode where Jess adopts Urkel’s “Did I do that?” line, and realizes that kids in their early 20s don’t actually know who Urkel is. Mind blown.
Since we’re talking about Holly, let’s start with Team Blake.
Holly sang that music competition favorite of late, The Band Perry’s “Done.” It’s one of those horrible melody-free country song about a girl who was duped by some guy and got pissed and is now yelling at him and stomping her feet and being mad. I mean, great songwriting, that. Holly does it all the justice it deserves, and brings plenty of attitude. Shakira was more enamored of Holly’s blinged out boots than anything. Adam Levine says he’s happy to see her aggressive side. Blake says Holly chewed up and spit out the song. I’d say that’s an accurate description.
Swon Brothers do the Eagles’ “Seven Bridges Road,” which they call a bluegrass song, and they seem a little uncomfortable about that. But Blake tells them as country artists, they have to be willing to do bluegrass, too. They’re good, I think. I don’t know, I couldn’t look past the giant campfire they had on stage. Carson thanks them for bringing the Memorial Day barbecue. Shakira loves their harmonies and tells them it’s a “little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.” Which it’s not. That campfire was all country. Adam says there were a couple moments that scared him.
Can we talk about set design, please? As if Swon’s campout wasn’t enough, Danielle Bradbery sings the Judds’ “Grandpa” from a porch swing. And shoes: she, too, has blinged out cowboy boots, these ones all sparkly red. Of course, Usher was all over that. Adam talks all about how amazing it is that Danielle’s so young, which we really need to move past now. And Blake says that with all the bad news in the world, Danielle takes him back “to when things were good.”
Judith Hill was once again wearing incredibly structural hair. This time it was a ponyhawk akin to Sanjaya Malakar’s famous ‘do. It looked better on her, but still. She did #thatPOWER and it was nothing like the original and kind of amazing. Blake was happy to see some personality. Adam said it was like watching an artist perform, such as himself.
Sarah Simmons got the unfortunate task of singing a hit so popular last year that it now sounds incredibly passé, “Somebody That I Used to Know.” She did her signature gritty cries she does, but was flat several times. Usher kind of points that out. “I may be a little critical about sharps or flats or whatever it may be…” he starts, but then compliments her on her texture and restraint. Shakira points out that the song’s been done, as in The Band Perry wrote a song about it DONE. But said Sarah’s version was interesting.
Amber Carrington closed out the show with “Skyfall,” which was an unusual choice, as far as Adele songs go. Adam says he picked it because he doesn’t want Amber to fall into an oblivion of only doing country pop. But Blake disagrees in his commentary, saying you can’t cover up country. “There are a lot of countries in the world,” Adam rebuts.
Sasha Allen may be Shakira’s only contestant left, but she’s also Shakira’s not-so-secret weapon. Sasha is by far the best technical singer in the game. Shakira gives her “Without You” because it has the line, “I won’t ever win this game without you.” They talk about how she can connect with the song—to think about how she misses her fiancé. So of course Sasha sings it like she’s just suffered some kind of extreme pain. Blake notes her precision and says he compared his singing to Sasha’s and “it wasn’t good.” Usher talked all about how he wrote the song. Shakira tells her she made it her own.
Michelle Chamuel’s been having a pretty good couple of weeks. Her voice is getting clearer and stronger, like she’s coming out of her shell a bit. She sings “Grenade” and Usher says he chose it for her because he’d catch a grenade for her. She was going to do it all electronic, but Usher makes her sing it with a piano, and hearkening back to the day in training when he made her sing into a mirror, she sings into dozens of mirrors. None of them were on fire on stage, though, so you know where set design really puts all its talents. Shakira felt Michelle’s confidence. Adam said it was one of the best of the night. Usher, over-the-top as ever, says Michelle represents “true inner beauty. That performance represented everything that we love about life.”
Two group numbers pitted Team Blake + Amber Carrington against the four weirdos, Michelle, Judith, Sarah and Sasha. The country team did “Something More” by Sugarland, for which they all just stood there in a line. The other group did “Diamonds” and they moved and interacted and sounded pretty amazing. Again, Michelle was kind of a standout who had slipped under the radar.
Will Team Shakira and Team Usher finish being decimated by voters? Hard to say. Both of their remaining contestants did well Monday night and have had pretty good track records so far. My least favorite were Holly Tucker (the only member of Team Blake not to get some cliché country scene reenacted on stage) and Sarah Simmons, who is relying a bit too much on that gritty growl. About time Teams Adam and Blake took a hit.