The Voice doesn't have themed weeks for its performances, but if it did, the top eight night would have been "Stand Behind the Microphone and Sing Ballads" week, along with "Let's Bring In Old Coaches" week. Because, really, that's all there was to this show.
We had strong, powerful and steady performances from everyone this week, with no rock track, upbeat pop number or in sight. And, with very few exceptions, the contestants pulled it off. It's been said that this batch of The Voice contestants is among the strongest, and for once that doesn't necessarily seem hyperbolic.
See the rundown of performances and our rankings below:
08. Corey Kent White, "When I See You Smile": "The best performance of the season?" OK, Blake Sheltopn. Corey Kent White has never been my favorite performer on this season of The Voice; I think his country "thing" is really a stretch and his vocal abilities are miles below his competitors. Sorry I'm not sorry, but that was the same story again this week. He actually stepped outside of the world of country to take on this classic rock song, but the notes were literally all wrong. The chorus was so flat it may have actually been sharp? I don't even know what that melody was supposed to be during the song's TITLE LYRIC, but it was definitely not what came out of Corey's mouth. Please, can we send him home this week?
07. Hannah Kirby, "We Don't Need Another Hero": Yet again, The Voice gave poor Hannah Kirby a boring, dated song choice; this time she took on Tina Turner's "We Don't Need Another Hero." It was perfectly fine in the '80s, and Turner has a big voice to match Hannah's potential, but this was very dragged on for me. Her vocal was actually fairly scaled back compared to some of the things she's done in recent weeks, and while that could have helped her to show a different side, the production (courtesy of co-coach CeeLo Green) was overdone and distracting. A kids choir? Really. Cheesy.
06. India Carney, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow": "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is such an overdone singing competition song, I can't recount how many times it's been covered, even just on The Voice. So, you know, whatever. In her consultation with Gwen Stefani and Christina Aguilera, Gwen told Indie that Christina has a technically flawless voice but her personality, her look and her choices made her a superstar. So, India just took that advice and discarded it. Her cover of this The Wizard of Oz classic was technically pretty much perfect, but it wasn't interesting. We know that India can sing, and she can do that very, very well. But, can she emote? Have a personality? Or will she be another forgettable Voice finalist? I'm not so sure yet.
05. Koryn Hawthorne, "Girl on Fire": It was only time until we got to hear Koryn Hawthorne cover Alicia Keys, and this was it. Unfortunately, she chose Keys', like, most boring song, and for the first quarter of this performance, Koryn followed suit, standing at the top of an illuminated orb on top of a staircase, Koryn was pretty sleepy for a minute. But, as she descended the staircase, she ascended the world of music, giving a smoky, powerful and purposeful performance. It wasn't as insane of a breakthrough as we heard from Koryn in the last two weeks, but it was above and beyond expectations.
04. Sawyer Fredericks, "Simple Man": This Lynyrd Skynyrd single was such a logical song choice for Sawyer Fredricks, that I don't know why it took him until the top eight to pull this one out. "Simple Man" fits Sawyer's voice, his persona and his style, so of course, this was "simple," straightforward and beautiful. As Adam Levine pointed out, Sawyer stepped outside his comfort zone (quite literally) with this choice. Though it's a ballad, "Simple Man" is pretty loud. He managed to pull away from the band, however, and his voice shined through. Good choice from the consistently strong Sawyer.
03. Meghan Linsey, "Something": Blake Shelton did not pick this song for Meghan Linsey, but she still managed to bring it on to The Voice. For the last two weeks, Meghan has knocked it out of the park. Her performances of "Girl Crush" and "Home" are far and away some of the best moments of season eight thus far, so Meghan had a lot to live up to tonight. For her take on the Beatles' "Something," she did... OK. When compared to some of the other simple moments of the night, this was way up there; when compared to what we know Meghan to do, this was kind of just in the middle. "Something" is a very classic love song, so when she messed with the melody ever-so-slightly, it was easy to get thrown off. This song also dragged quite a bit, but that is the nature of the ballad and filling two hours with eight performances.
02. Joshua Davis, "Fields of Gold": After weeks of making bizarre song choices, coach Adam finally let his final contestant Joshua Davis pick his own song, and he landed on this folk-ridden Sting number. It was no secret that his performance of "Hold Back the River" was kind of terrible. But, this was redeeming. Joshua kept things soft, smooth and quiet, allowing his pure voice and acoustic guitar skills to emotionally connect him to the audience. As the coaches pointed out, it can be difficult to show such vulnerability, because if you miss one step, it will be glaringly obvious. However, Joshua pulled this off, and it was an effective recovery.
01. Kimberly Nichole, "Creep": Radiohead's "Creep" is such an overdone song, but Kimberly Nichole tapped into Postmodern Jukebox for her version of this classic '90s hit, and well, she wowed with it. It's getting a little ridiculous, just how much of a standout performer Kimberly is, but she nailed this. She shows some insane vulnerability here, and it was gripping, emotional and as Pharrell put it "masterful." Something like collapsing onto the floor before the final note could have felt a little overdramatic, but Kimberly sold it and gave it her all. It was raw and real and artistic. She's beyond the one to beat on this show.