On Wednesday night (April 8), it was finally time for The Voice season eight to trim the fat. After four hours of live performances earlier in the week, it was time to cut 40 percent of the remaining contestants, leaving America with its final top 12. It was a slaughterhouse, but for the most part, the right decisions were made by Pharrell, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and American voters.
Wiz Khalifa and season 7 finalist Chris Jamison kicked off the night with a touching rendition of Khalifa's Furious 7 soundtrack single "See You Again." A seasoned pro of The Voice, Jamison was able to show the new kids how it's done, exercising his falsetto flawlessly and complimenting Khalifa's raps with ease.
But after those theatrics, it was time to get down to business. Let's see how the top 12 broke down for each team.
The female-heavy Team Blake team kicked off by tackling "I'll Take You There," and unsurprisingly, Hannah Kirby dominated the stage, with an odd amount of performance time also going to Corey Kent White. Team Blake is one of the stronger groups of five on this show, with Sarah Potenza, Meghan Linsey and Brooke Adee being some of the more unique performers to come through this show. So, the public vote and Blake's inevitable save was going to be a difficult choice.
Viewers of The Voice must love country, because the super vanilla singer Corey made it through on the public vote despite only delivering a so-so vocal. Though he lies deeply in earnestness through his music, I don't buy that he's a true country singer. The second public vote went to fan favorite Meghan, who definitely delivered a raw, powerful performance earlier this week with "Love Runs Out." Because she's been a coach favorite for the entire season, Blake saved Hannah. Her raw power and natural performance abilities make her something that artists love, but will she be able to connect well with the general American public? I hope so, but I'm not so sure.
Sarah and Brooke's exits from the show are an unfortunate byproduct of the structure, but truth be told their song choices on Monday were not the best picks, so they always seemed a little screwed. Sarah's version of "Freebird" felt like a genuine song choice, but the execution was a little off. And Brooke should never have touched Ellie Goulding, who is both out of her range and genre comfort.
Christina Aguilera's team of five was far and away the most talented pack, with the only weak link in the chain on Tuesday night coming courtesy of Sonic, who seemed to let her hearing disability get to her at the end of the day with a highly pitchy performance. Team Christina channeled another legendary pop diva, singing Madonna's "Like a Prayer," with the gusto of a powerful gospel choir.
When it came down to business, some of the choices felt very obvious. India Carney and Kimberly Nichole had the two strongest performances on Tuesday night, so for the public not to reward them for that would have been a crime. Luckily for The Voice and Christina, the vote went the logical way, with both powerhouse female vocalists soaring into the top 12 with ease.
The save both was and was not a difficult choice. Sonic really was a no-go with the level of talent on Christina's team, so the choice laid between Lexi Davila and Rob Taylor. Lexi actually had the strongest performance on Tuesday, with a diva-licious performance of "All By Myself," she is such a baby Christina and it was insane to watch. However, does Christina really need three female pop singers on her team? I don't think so, and neither did Christina. She winded up giving the save to Rob, who did alright with The Weeknd's "Earned It." But the space he occupies on this show and on Christina's team as the 2015 R&B guy is important, so hopefully he can pull it out and not make Lexi's departure in vain.
Team Pharrell brought out all of the feels with its opening performance of A Great Big World's "Say Something," so excuse me while I go and sob in the bathroom before finishing the rest of this recap...
After all of the tears were shed, it was time to get to the nitty gritty of the competition and make some cuts. Team Pharrell was an interesting blend on Monday night, with both of the highs and lows going to his batch of five. Sawyer Fredericks, Mia Z and Koryn Hawthorne were such superstars, giving emotional and breakthrough performances that showed new sides of themselves to the audience, but in a way that worked. However, Lowell Oakley really, truly stumbled by getting way too out of his element with Nick Jonas' "Jealous." After Chris Jamison stole that song in season 7, there were big shoes to fill, and he couldn't step into them. And, well, Caitlin Caporale fell into the middle of the pack.
The eliminations followed thusly, with Sawyer and Mia getting the rightful votes from America. Really, the voters were so on point tonight (exception being Corey Kent White). Out of Koryn, Lowell and Caitlin, the choice seemed obvious to me. Koryn has a crazy strong voice and maybe her song choice was a little isolating, with the gospel classic "How Great Thou Art" failing to connect with the non-church going crowd (despite the insane vocal). Caitlin still just could not connect emotionally, and Lowell was always so messy, so it was kind of a good riddance there.
Rihanna's "Diamonds" is oftentimes an underwhelming song, and the rather underwhelming Team Adam chose to perform it, giving the song a nice choir makeover, but it was nothing particularly invigorating, like what we heard from Team Pharrell of Team Christina. In my humble opinion, Adam has the weakest batch of singers, so on a night when Sarah Potenza and Caitlin Caporale go home, I don't know... what's there to really latch onto here?
After succumbing to nerves throughout the majority of her time on The Voice, Deanna Johnson was actually able to cut through that on Tuesday night, giving a captivating, simple and strong performance of the classic "Down to the River to Pray." The public appreciated her unique vocal, sending her through. Oftentimes, singer-songwriter Joshua Davis bored me, especially when compared to the similar-ish raw artistry of Sawyer Fredericks. But, he does occupy a space of dad rock on The Voice, and that's something that an older demographic and guitar-loving bros can all latch onto. So, on the mediocre team, these are the two biggest standouts, and they fittingly made it through into the top 12.
The save was a little testier. Nathan Hermida, Tonya Boyd-Cannon and Brian Johnson were up for Adam's choice, and it was so easy to discard Nathan. Adam seemed to have a real connection to Tonya, though I don't think she had a strong enough stage presence, especially to match up to the insane emoitions that Brian can deliver. So, Adam made the solid choice, going for Brian. Let's just hope he can really show up next week (and that all of Team Adam prove their worth).