Seven seasons into The Voice, and it's time to throw a few wrenches in the works. Enter in: the wildcard race. Instead of sending the four most consistent performers into next week's finale or just three, the show allowed each cast-off performer from the Top 12 to return and, well, sing for their lives.
Before all that drama could begin, the top three from the remaining contestants had to be announced. After two consistent performances, Chris Jamison was the first to crack the top three, followed by Craig Wayne Boyd and fan-favorite Matt McAndrew.
Jamison's entrance into the top three seemed to ride largely on his performances from Monday night. He gave a wonderful falsetto throughout Maroon 5's "Sugar" and while his cover of Bruno Mars' "When I Was Your Man" wasn't nearly as stunning, he was better than the worst songs from McAndrew or Damien.
McAndrew and Boyd's inclusions seem to be due to their consistency; Boyd's for last night's and McAndrew's overall fav status.
Those three getting the easy pass into the finale meant that Taylor John Williams and Damien had to join the seven other eliminated contestants for just a single spot in the top four. Bring the drama, bring the people back and bring the music.
How'd they do? As should have been expected, it was a big ol' mixed bag, ranging from some of the strongest performances of the season (see: Damien), surprising turns (see: Sugar Joans) and some straight embarrassing vocals (see: Jessie Pitts, Ryan Sill).
Check out the good, the bad and the meh below before Carson Daly reveals the final contestant tomorrow on The Today Show:
Damien, "Grenade": Now, Damien, THIS is how you do a slightly more upbeat ballad - not that '80s mess you tried on Monday night. Bruno Mars's "Grenade" was a great song choice - it blends passion with an impressive amount of power and range, all while showing that Damien can do more than a gospel-style ballad. He pulled out all the stops, and it worked, giving the always-strong Damien yet another impressive performance in his pocket.
DaNica Shirey, "Without You": Oh, DaNica Shirey, you don't need to wear an Adele costume to try and pull out a beautiful performance; your voice does have its own merits. And, of course, DaNica blasted through this ballad, giving a beautiful and strong performance of this Mariah Carey classic. She has a lot of gusto in her voice and a lot of volume, all while maintaining the necessary control to not overwhelm the track. She has a solid chance of making it back into the finale.
Sugar Joans, "Back to Black": Now, where was this Sugar Joans at the top of The Voice? This Team Pharrell pick was plagued by terrible, dated song choices in the top 12, and with a (slightly) more modern Amy Winehouse for her comeback performance, Sugar was finally able to sweeten things up. She actually has a really beautiful jazz voice, mixing old school sensibilities with a modern twist - much like Winehouse was able to do so successfully. Sugar's take on "Back to Black" was just as strong as performances from Damien or DaNica Shirey, but without a big fanbase to back her, her chances on making it to the finale are slim at best.
Reagan James, "Put Your Records On": After weeks of watching Reagan James perform on The Voice, how did I just notice she's a breathier, less talented and less powerful Lorde? It really is apparent. Reagan's take on Corrinne Bailey Rae's signature single was short, simple, sweet and to the point, but it wasn't a big star moment. And when you're one of nine competing for a single spot, OK just won't cut it.
Jessie Pitts, "Zombie": In people who we totally forgot about on The Voice, Jessie Pitts broke out of her Ellie Goulding-lite box to perform The Cranberries' powerful "Zombie." She was trying a little too hard to replicate the original instead of making it her own, and she couldn't quite pull off the same vocal as Dolores O'Riordan. Jessie was best in smaller, more hushed moments, and this was the exact opposite, producing a pretty uneven performance.
Ryan Sill, "Marry Me": Like, ugh, this guy again? After a short reprieve from the flubbed notes and the punchable face of Ryan Sill, he was back... with a Train song of all things. Are we surprised that he tried to zero in right on the female market for The Voice? Are we surprised that he missed the big note, instead falling flat on his face? Are we surprised that the coaches had to act wooed even after a floppy performance? No, no and no. Next.
Anita Antoinette, "Waiting on the World to Change": Anita Antoinette clearly has a beautiful and political soul, which is why she chose John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change" for her wildcard spot. In the midst of all the unrest in Ferguson and protest in New York City, it was a valiant song choice. But, in the midst of a tight competition? It was a terrible song choice. Though Anita was able to pull out some impressive runs, she was unable to really show off her best genre and her best voice - but at least she got to speak to the world, right?
Taylor John Williams, "Wicked Games": It's a shame that Taylor John Williams has to resort to singing for the chance to make it to the top four, when he's otherwise been a strong contestant. He messed around with Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game," and while Taylor's tweaks on singles usually work to his advantage, the different melody he chose just sounded like he couldn't quite pull of the chorus in the ways that make this song difficult, special and impressive. Taylor has a solid fanbase on The Voice, and that could carry him through to the top four. On his own merits? He falls in the middle of the pack.
Luke Wade, "Have A Little Faith in Me": Luke Wade never really seemed able to get used to being on The Voice. Though he had the raw talent at his disposal, Luke was always forgetting lyrics, shaking like a leaf or flubbing lines. For his redemption song, Luke was able to hold it together, but his resulting performance of "Have A Little Faith in Me" was more lukewarm than anything else. It wasn't bad by any means, he interacted well with the audience and the camera and hit every note on the head, but he was just a little lacking in anything sparkling or special.