'The Voice' Semi-Finals Recap: Top 5 Perform 2 Songs, Josh Kaufman Steals The Spotlight
Each artist sang twice on Monday night’s Semi-Finals of The Voice, with Team Usher's Josh Kaufman delivering two showstopping performances and Usher performing his new single "Good Kisser."
First up is Kristen Merlin, the last remaining member of Team Shakira and the resident country queen (after Audra McLaughlin was sent home last week). For her first song, Kristen chose Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead,” which was dedicated to her friends and her hometown, and her girlfriend who has been out to LA to support her. It’s a hell of a performance, that’s for sure. Kristen hits it out of the park with a defining performance. Kristen looks comfortable on stage, and the song allows her to enjoy herself. Adam Levine complimented her onstage growth, but the real compliment came from Blake Shelton, who is married to Miranda Lambert, and is the authority on all things country. Blake complimented her take on the song and admired her fancy footwork.
For her second song, Kristen went with Jewel’s “Foolish Games,” a slower, more vulnerable song. The change in tone provided Kristen with a good opportunity to show her softer side. Blake said that it was a breakthrough moment for her emotionally, and both he and Usher credited Shakira for helping her find an emotional connection to the song.
Josh Kaufman chose John Legend’s “All of Me” to sing in honor of his wife and kids – he met his wife in a bookstore! As always, Josh delivers a soulful performance, certainly worthy of a place in the finals. Josh is the king of the slow build in this competition, where other singers with his ability might belt their way through an entire song (see: Sisaundra Lewis), Josh gives nuanced performances. Adam, as always, ranted about how stupid he is for letting Josh go from his team, but he did change it up this week, giving some well deserved props to Josh’s coach, Usher. Blake admitted that there was no question to him that Josh would be in the finale, something none of the other coaches disagree with.
For Josh’s second performance, Usher gave him OneRepublic’s “Love Runs Out.” It’s an up-tempo song that shows off Josh’s bluesy tone and forces him to connect with the audience in a whole different way. Instead of the romantic Josh, we get rocker Josh, and, after this performance, it’s tough for the coaches to decide which one they like more. Blake even calls him a “natural born killer.”
Short interlude: Adam wants to get back at Blake for giving out his personal cell number via Twitter, though the validity of that prank has been called into question. For his act of revenge, Adam had two men dump manure on Blake’s bright red truck – on live television.
Kat Perkins performed Sia’s “Chandelier” for her first time up onstage. The song lets Kat show off her higher register, and coach Adam tells her that he thinks this will be her breakthrough performance (something he has said every episode for the past three weeks). If anything, Kat has become one of the most comfortable performers this season, but Kat struggles to connect emotionally to the audience.
Kat then chose to perform “Let It Go” from Frozen, which is about as bad an idea as you can imagine. Putting the fact that it’s a very difficult song to sing aside, “Let It Go” is already a Disney classic, and no doubt regarded as sacred to some more intense fans of Frozen (of which there are thousands). It’s a sweet gesture, however, as she dedicates the song to the kids she nannies for who encouraged her to try out for the show. Kat does her best, and the judges compliment her vocals, but it's not a groundbreaking performance.
Jake Worthington, from Team Blake, stayed true to his country roots, singing Waylon Jennings’ “Good Ol’ Boys” for his “best friends back home.” The performance is fun and Worthington is as charming as ever, earning rave reviews from the coaches. Standing with his guitar and cowboy hat in the center of the stage, Jake looked completely at home on the Voice stage.
Jake continued to show off his sweet personality with Bryan Adams’ “Heaven.” It’s another solid performance for the cowboy with a heart of gold.
Christina Grimmie, of Team Adam, switched things up this week, singing Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” in lieu of another rap cover. To get Heap’s sound, Christina chose to sing with a vocoder, and the risk certainly paid off. Christina gave a memorable performance that allowed her to play with her voice and experiment in ways other contestants haven’t on The Voice. Usher said he had trouble connecting with her at first, but once she stopped singing with the vocoder, he was completely invested. Adam defended Christina’s choice to use the vocoder, saying both he and Christina want to push the boundaries on The Voice.
For her second song, Christina put her stamp on fun.’s “Some Nights” in honor of her hometown. Christina stayed true to the original, but was able to add a little twist to it vocally, making t different enough to not sound like a sorry imitation of one of the year’s most played songs.
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