With the elimination of Kris Thomas and Josiah Hawley last week, The Voice is following in American Idol's footsteps this season – easily on the path to crowning a woman the winner. (The Swon Brothers are the lone testosterone-fueled act left.) But unlike Idol, it doesn't feel forced. Not that Candice Glover didn't deserve to win Season 12 of Idol, but that show's means to an end was way too transparent. But we digress.
As The Voice barrels along – mercilessly cutting two contestants a week in the live rounds – the top eight performers proved it's a tight race. The stakes are sky-high for Teams Usher and Shakira, who are each down to one artist.
We're sure Usher is breathing a big sigh of relief right now, as Michelle Chamuel pretty much stole the show with a stripped-down version of Bruno Mars' "Grenade." By turning the mid-tempo song into a theatrical ballad, her voice and stage presence shined. Of all the contestants, she's grown the most so far – each week her voice sounds stronger and her confidence builds. She's definitely the dark horse of the race. "People can identify with you, because you represent true inner beauty; you can tear down any barrier," Usher said while donning a pair of wide-brimmed glasses as a show of solidarity. (Nice Steve Urkel diss, Carson Daly.)
The same can't be said of Shakira's Sasha Allen, who'll need a miracle to dodge elimination this week. Her rendition of "Without You" by David Guetta featuring Usher sounded too Broadway. In general her voice is good, but her overall execution of this particular song was too dramatic and too precise – every word was enunciated to the point of distraction. While the coaches only had praise for her performance, we'd be surprised if it connected as well with viewers at home. Indeed, she dragged the bottom of the iTunes chart the morning after
Outside of the fact that Michelle seems to be a lock to stay while Sasha is probably on the outs, playing the percentages indicates there's a good chance someone from either Blake Shelton's or Adam Levine's fully intact teams will go. And, if you ask us, Team Adam is beginning to buckle.
Up until last night, we were sure Judith Hill was a shoo-in for the finals. But her self-professed "risky" rendition of "#thatpower" by will.i.am featuring Justin Bieber gave us pause. Could she be sent packing this week?
Coach Adam was admittedly "shocked" by her song choice, saying it was "dramatically different" from anything she's done before on the show. And indeed, the funky, electronic beats and out-there outfit were a little jarring. But her vocals and onstage charisma were spot-on as usual. We're just not sure it was a good fit for her – and in such a tight race, one wrong move and you're history. We hope that's not the case, but we're fully bracing for the first real shocker of the season.
As for the rest of Adam's team, we were once again disappointed by Sarah Simmons, who sang Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know." As with her versions of Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" and Brandi Carlile's "The Story," the song seemed like a perfect fit, but she didn’t really make it work. Part of the problem may have been that coach Adam admitted he was trying to "plan strategic moments" for the audience to be blown away. And it certainly seemed like she was trying too hard, with her voice sweeping back and forth between a falsetto and gravelly rasp.
Meanwhile, Amber Carrington's take on Adele's "Skyfall" nabbed the coveted pimp spot, which pretty much ensures she'll be safe. It was good, but she didn't blow it out of the water or anything. Shakira took a subtle jab, saying, "It's perplexing that Adam picked that song, because we've been so critical of people who sing Adele."
Of all the teams, Blake's seems the most solid right now. Can't go wrong with country, right?
Doe-eyed Danielle Bradbery is clearly his frontrunner. Her performance of "Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout the Good Ol' Days)" by the Judds was an easy-to-swallow pill even for people who aren't into the genre. Her vocals were crystal clean, as always, and the stage set-up of her sitting on a front-porch swing was the perfect backdrop. Plus, the outfit she had on was finally one that a real-life 16-year-old might be allowed to wear out of the house. Shakira summed it up best: "You are so sweet, very believable and a good narrator. You have star quality. You've either got it or you don't, and you've got it."
Meanwhile, for the first time this season, Holly Tucker proved she has what it takes to go the distance too. Her take on the Band Perry's "Done" was the perfect fit for her voice, letting her show a little attitude. Before last night, we thought she'd be the next to go, as she's somewhat interchangeable with Amber, but now we think she may have done (pun intended) just enough to squeak by this week.
We also expect the Swon Brothers to stick around. Their acoustic version of the Eagles' "Seven Bridges Road" while seated around a bonfire suited them well. They aren't the best vocalists left in the competition but they're extremely likeable – and that can go a long way on these reality show competitions.
So, tell us: Are we in for a shocking elimination this week?
Previously: Josiah Hawley and Kris Thomas Elimianted