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'The Voice' Season 8 Recap & Review: Top 12 Perform as Some Break Out & Others Fall Way Behind

by Carolyn Menyes   Apr 13, 2015 23:27 PM EDT

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The Voice season eight has found its groove in the live rounds. After eliminating eight contestants last week (April 8) in a slaughterhouse results show, on Monday night (April 13), the top 12 finally got what was theirs by breaking out and showing America what they're made of... with the help of Reba McEntire, of course.

Here, we finally saw who the true frontrunners are on this season, with Kimberly Nichole, Meghan Linsy and Rob Taylor pulling ahead with some nuts perforances and raw vocals... but how did everyone else stack up? Check out our full rankings below:

12. Brian Johnson, "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You": "It's hard to sing Sting, even when you have a really high voice," said coach Adam Levine to Brian Johnson, after he failed to deliver on this song. Brian has a good range but not a great range and as the weeks have gone by the cracks in his voice have started to show more and more. This was not a good song choice to cover those up. Brian struggled to stay on top of his vocal and he wasn't that engaging to watch, either. He was the save on the relatively weak Team Adam, so eh... his chances don't feel amazing.

11. Corey Kent White, "Why": Oh man, it was finally time for Corey Kent White to really reach into his country pocket and bring out his soul... and he did this to a Jason Aldean song. I know Corey has the Oklahoma pedigree, but he just doesn't have that signature country twang in his voice. Corey had some of that in his rehearsal but it was missing come the live performance. He also was a little too white bread to take on the persona of Aldean. That being said, this was nice and sweet and totally fine. Whatever, Corey.

10. Hannah Kirby, "Edge of Seventeen": Hannah Kirby has this great ability to sing classic rock songs like the best of them, so it's really only fitting that she finally got around to sing a Stevie Nicks song. Everything about her from the way she moves to the way she ejects power is very rooted in the days of yesteryear. After a rehearsal that was filled with some flubbed notes, her on stage delivery was totally solid, and Hannah was able to move about the stage like a seasoned pro (not like presence has ever been an issue for her). I have some serious doubts about Hannah's capabilities as a modern performer - I think her whole antiquated vibe could hurt her chances with The Voice voters and her viability as a chartable artist.

09. Deanna Johnson, "Oceans": Adam is all about the Christian songs this year on The Voice, so Deanna Johnson took on this Hillsong United track. She was a little hesitant about performing another religious song this week because while she's good at is, she doesn't want to be pigeonholed. And that is valid. Deanna's vocal here was as rich and buttery as ever, even after she experienced a few technical difficulties. Really, she fell somewhere in the middle - it's only been a few minutes and I've already forgotten basically everything about this track. But, I do remember how wonderful her voice is, and that is the title of this show, after all.

08. Koryn Hawthorne, "Stronger": Koryn Hawthorne is the wild card pick of Team Pharrell, which puts her in the space where she needs to really perform to make it through. Unfortunately, I don't know if her take on Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" was it. Koryn was drowned out by the band at certain points and Clarkson is a naturally difficult singer to take on. She lived up to this as much as she could, but at the end of the day, this was very middle of the pack.

07. Sawyer Fredericks, "Imagine": Ugh, Sawyer Fredericks would perform John Lennon's "Imagine." Nothing against this legendary song, of course, but it just feels too in line with the hippie label the show has thrown on Sawyer but in, like, the most obvious way possible. This choice was less about showing off Sawyer's vocal abilities and I guess more about showing off who he is and how captivating he can be while keeping things fairly simple... and Sawyer occupied that space well. I just think this was all a little too basic for him, Sawyer can go somewhere much more interesting (even though this song was totally good).

06. India Carney, "Take Me to Church": Last year, Matt McAndrew really broke out on The Voice season seven with his take on Hozier's "Take Me to Church," so how could another contestant on this show really even live up to that? The answer was give this song to an R&B singer and inject it with a boatload of soul... and that's something that India Carney was pretty capable of doing it. This song finally showed us a different, more rock 'n' roll edge to India, giving her a versatility I wasn't so sure she had. And she commanded the volume and power of this vocal with everything within her - even when she flubbed some notes, it still worked 'cause she owned it.

05. Joshua Davis, "America": OMG. Joshua Davis dropped his guitar for this performance... and it was an acoustic track, too. Prime time for his to whip out that six-string. For the most part, I've found Joshua's version of dad rock on The Voice to be really, truly boring, but this Simon & Garfunkel classic really suited his voice. He had the nice whispered tone and a real loving soulfulness to him; it was really balanced. I don't know if this is a big sustainable approach, but there's a nice artistry on display here, and it's worth sticking around to see.

04. Mia Z, "Miss You": Mia Z was the fourth performer to go and she was the fourth performer with a really odd song choice. She's a pop/R&B singer... so let's give her a Rolling Stones track... fine, Pharrell. For most of the song, Mia fell somewhere in the middle. Her performance was a little overly sexual, which is something Pharrell seems intent on doing to her - or maybe that's just her natural personality. But, the vocal was nothing wow-worthy until the end, when she pulled out her whistle register. Singing that whole "Ooh ooh ooh ooh" part in a piercing falsetto just showed the kind of vocal prowess Mia is capable of. I still think she has better performances and song choices in her, but this was a solid start for her in the top 12.

03. Rob Taylor, "I Put a Spell on You": Reba said that when you take on a song like this that has been covered so many times, you have to put your own spin on it. And while Rob Taylor wasn't the most original taker on this classic, he was able to deliver a crazy vocal. His chest voice and his falsetto were unmatchable. Rob was a coach save from Christina, and unlike some of the others this episode, he was able to really show that he had the stuff - a byproduct of her strong starting five.

02. Meghan Linsey, "Girl Crush": We finally got some country roots out of Meghan Linsey with this take on Little Big Town's semi-controversial single "Girl Crush." This song is already great, with a blend of classic '50s daydreamers pop and modern country, and Meghan blended together the soulfulness with the twang in just the right proportion. This song felt like it really could have been Meghan's to begin with - it fit her voice and her vibe so perfectly. She had some nice passions behind her, with a closed eye, soft performance. I'd love to see some more country from Meghan, even though she gave that a shot before and missed it with her duo Steel Magnolia. She's just so natural at it!

01. Kimberly Nichole, "House of the Rising Sun": I never really thought of Kimberly Nichole as a rocker, but then she took on The Animals' "House of the Rising Sun," and man, is she such a frontrunner for this show. Not only is Kimberly a natural performer from her magnetizing energy to her crazy cool style, but she also can deliver one heck of a vocal. It's raspy, raw and pure rock 'n' roll. Kimberly is a sure frontrunner on this season of The Voice, after nailing her performance last week too. Will she actually make it to the finale? I don't know... but she definitely deserves a spot there.

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