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'The Voice' Season 8 Recap & Review: Top 6 Perform & Sawyer Fredericks Owns the Night

by Carolyn Menyes   May 4, 2015 23:05 PM EDT

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The Voice season eight is only two weeks away from crowning a winner, which, wow... where has the time gone? After sending Hannah Kirby and Corey Kent White packing last week, tonight (May 4), the top six took to the stage to pay tribute to their mothers with tender ballads and prove that they'll listen to their coaches with a personalized pick.

As always, it's becoming more and more clear who the standouts are: and that would be Sawyer Fredericks and Meghan Linsey. They both simply stunned through this episode, showing off different sides of their musical personalities all while keeping it close to the base.

But, everyone else delivered, too, and the odds are in the contestants' favors when only one person is sent packing on Tuesday night. Who could it be? Check out our ranking of tonight's 12 performances below:

12. Joshua Davis, "Desire": Joshua Davis has had quite the rollercoaster ride on The Voice. He flopped one week with James Bay, showed up for real last week and redeemed himself, and this week, well, he slipped back down the hill. Joshua chose to perform the U2 track "Desire," which could have shown a certain fun level of energy and vocal ability in Joshua. Instead, like any time he reaches into an uptempo level, Joshua was unable to keep up, falling flat on the signature "Desire" lyric. Joshua shines the most when he's able to be soft and contemplative, and this rock song just did not do that.

11. Kimberly Nichole, "Free Falling": Like many of the other performances of the night, Kimberly Nichole's take on Tom Perry seemed like a weird song choice. Kimberly has so much gusto and energy to her, so why waste it on a mid-tempo ballad? This was not the most interesting Kimberly performance of the year or the most engaging or exciting. Really, it was just OK. We know she can do rock and soul and funk and pop and really anything, so this just fell in the middle of it all. The most endearing moment came at the end of the performance, when Kimberly screamed out "I love you Mommy!" to her mama in the audience. Adorable.

 

10. India Carney, "Glory": This song brought home the Oscar for Common and John Legend this year, so India Carney had a lot to live up to tonight. And she did, well, OK. It's never a great idea to turn a rap song into a sung track - the melodies almost always wind up being one-note, and that was no exception here. India's verses just felt like the same words and notes over and over again, stripping away the passions of this modern protest anthem. India's case also wasn't helped by her lack of connection to the lyrics. She sang the song loudly and technically well, but not proudly or emotionally, and that lack of passion was felt.

09. Koryn Hawthorne, "Dream On": This show doesn't quite know what kind of songs to give Koryn Hawthorne, so sure, just give her some Aerosmith. The thing about her though, is that she was able to deliver on this classic rock anthem in a way that was actually pretty unexpected. She sizzled when necessary, gave some guttural blues notes when necessary and worked the stage like an old pro. The only thing holding this performance back from being the big one of the night was, well, she just did not nail the high notes. When Steven Tyler goes for it in "Dream On," he GOES FOR IT. Koryn didn't even try, and that was majorly disappointing.

08. Meghan Linsey, "Steamroller Blues": Meghan Linsey has a soulful grit to her, and it never came out more than here, when she revisited her "tip jar" song "Steamroller Blues." Meghan gave 110 percent into this performance... like, she REALLY went for it. Sometimes, her pure gusto forced this vocal into terribly pitchy territory, which is not somewhere that we're used to seeing Meghan. Though she oversang this song and was a little all over the place, I don't know, somehow it worked? Meghan is such a natural performer that things like these can sort of slide and be fine.

07. Koryn Hawthorne, "Everybody Hurts": At first, this REM song seemed like a terrible song choice for Koryn - she is not a rock singer, so where would this even go with her? As soon as she opened up her mouth on stage, all doubts flooded away. Koryn and Pharrell gave this classic rock hit a total soulful makeover, making it feel far more like a gospel choir's anthem than something out of the 1990s. There were a few totally flubbed notes, but Koryn was selling it so much that it wasn't overly bothersome. Koryn continues to be a bit of a dark horse this year on The Voice. Slowly but steadily, she's revealing herself to be the one to beat over outwardly flashier contestants.

06. Sawyer Fredericks, "Take Me to the River": Though Sawyer does his best when he's getting raw and emotional, but he can shine on a more grooving track, too. Though the staging was a little bizarre with an army of background dancers shaking their thangs in checkered dresses, Sawyer actually seemed at home on the stage. It was a little more difficult to discern what was the star here, but his vocal was solid and his comfort level was incredibly impressive for someone of such a young age.

05. India Carney, "Lay Me Down": Sometimes it's easy to forget that, oh yeah, India Carney is a classically trained opera singer. She doesn't get to bust that training out too terribly often on The Voice, but when she does it makes for some of her more memorable moments. After being so-so during her performance of "Glory," India finally redeemed herself after a batch of lukewarm performances with this Sam Smith tune. She didn't mess with the arrangement too terribly much. Instead, India focused on making this song as pretty as possible, and she added just the right amount of decorum onto every note. It was pretty, which is exactly where India needs to be right now.

04. Joshua Davis, "In My Life": Joshua Davis' first performance of the night was so out of his comfort zone that he failed to resonate. His second choice? This Beatles classic, and it was a total 180. Joshua does his best when he's being soft and sweet, something that "In My Life" is totally perfect for. Armed just with his acoustic guitar, Joshua was emotional, sentimental and most importantly natural on the stage, giving a solid vocal and a touching performance. Maybe he's a bit of a one-trick pony - how many acoustic ballads can we really enjoy on any given season? But when you're good at it, hey, why not?

03. Meghan Linsey, "Amazing Grace": There's a huge vulnerability in singing a classic gospel song like this on live television in front of millions of people at home, and then there's a whole 'nother level when you're going to do it a cappella. But, it's time to go big or go home, and Team Blake's Meghan Linsey just went for it. Meghan's rendition of "Amazing Grace" wasn't the most original song choice, and it could drag on for a while, but the vocal here did what Meghan and Blake intended: it stunned. Meghan nailed every note and every inflection, giving The Voice one of its big moments of season eight.

02. Kimberly Nichole, "Dirty Diana": When she's the "rock ballerina" in New York City, Kimberly Nichole injects this Michael Jackson ballad into her normal setlist. And, well, we can see why. "Dirty Diana" was the perfect blend of rock, soul and R&B for Kimberly. She was able to express her massive vocal range and volume all while working the stage and giving a throaty, raw performance that's sure to be remembered. THIS is her music and personality, not that lame-o "Free Falling." Kimberly was able to be a showman while also being a straight diva. YAAS.

01. Sawyer Fredericks, "Shine On": What's crazy about Sawyer Fredericks is that he's really only 16 years old (maybe 17?) and he has just this ancient tender soul. Moreso than anyone else on this show, Sawyer does his best when he's armed with an acoustic guitar, a meaningful lyric and someone to sing to. That all came together tonight for his first song, a take on Daisy Maye Earlwine's "Shine On." This song had so much beauty and emotion to it and Sawyer executed it perfectly, singing directly to his mama in a manner that was sure to deliver of tears. This kid is going places, like, to the finale for sure. 

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