It takes more than Usher to fill the void — specifically the 10 minutes — left by Holly Tucker (RIP, HT’s bangs). Because it would be too much to ask for Shakira, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton to join in the superstar performances, the void is filled with hometown visits for the five remaining contestants. All of the visits are relatively similar, in that lots of friends and family members come out of the woodwork and cry happy tears.
Some individual highlights include Danielle Bradbury singing the National Anthem at a Houston Astros game, Michelle Chamuel singing “God Bless America” at a Boston Red Sox game and The Swon Brothers receiving a “Rising Star” award from the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame (which seems like a big deal because Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood received the same award. But it’s all brought down by knowing that Color Me Badd has also been honored by the organization. In 2000.).
All of the contestants seemed pretty happy to be in their home towns…which will work out great for the two of them headed home on Tuesday. To determine their fates, each contestant sings a personal choice, and a coach’s choice. Perhaps due to the fact that this format sounds startlingly familiar to last week’s format, each contestant also dedicates a song to someone who means a lot. So…there’s your variety.
Team Blake: The Swon Brothers
The Swon Brothers are up first, and dedicate a performance of Bob Seger’s “Turn The Page” to all of the band members they have ever played with. It’s solid, but it’s Bob Seger. The Swon Brothers have officially given up on the youth vote.
Usher digs it, though, and says, “This is definitely a kick off for tonight to look forward to many, many incredible performances. You guys did a great job.”
Adam, who has conjured up his own version of a wave for the Swons, tells them it’s “another great performance.”
Blake is more verbose, of course. “I’m so blown away,” he says. “As far as big steps and development, I think we’ve seen the biggest growth in The Swon Brothers in this competition over everyone else.”
Blake, having also given up on the youth vote, selects Kenny Loggins’ “Danny’s Song” for the brothers. It’s one of their better performances, albeit a slower paced, toned down number for the often high-energy Swons.
“You’re making the world love and understand country in a way that’s really great,” says Usher.
“I think you’re going to talk about tonight being the biggest night you had on The Voice,” Blake says.
Incidentally, on top of their Rising Star award, the Swons were honored with an entire week of a holiday in Muskogee, Oklahoma. It’s now. How are you celebrating?
Team Shakira: Sasha Allen
Sasha Allen’s pick is Whitney Houston (uh oh) (specifically “I Will Always Love You” — double uh oh) and she dedicates it to her children (awww…but there’s still a huge concern about the sacred ground uh ohs).
The risk appears to pay off, as Sasha sings the iconic song beautifully. The angelic white dress paired with a lot of fog and a wind machine is a bit much, but to give Sasha the benefit of the doubt, no one can control those intense Voice fog machines.
Adam commends her for tackling a song on his “nightmare” list, telling Sasha, “You did an incredible job of doing it. I’m sure you’re relieved, because I know how hard it is to do this song.”
“You really did an amazing job, and that voice right there is going to keep you here on the show,” says Usher.
“That was so beautiful and so pure, and you should feel amazing, says Shakira. “It took some serious guts to sing this song.”
The next song, clearly a Shakira pick, is “Bad Girls” (and no, not the M.I.A. version). Sasha brings it back to the ’70s with a disco-licious performance of the Donna Summer song. What it lacks in relevance it totally makes up for in the word SASHA spelled out in giant lightbulbs.
“That was like the ’70s,” says Adam. “That was awesome.” Well what is it Adam? The ’70s, or awesome? IT CAN’T BE BOTH!
Shakira, stoked that Usher gave Sasha a standing ovation, praises her contestant. “That was so much fun!” she says. “With a little bit of guidance and a lot of work, you have become this phenomenal performer!”
Team Blake: Danielle Bradbery
Blake picks Tim McGraw’s “Please Remember Me” for golden child Danielle Bradbery. There are some phenomenal soaring high notes, but it sounds just a touch sharp. Lucky for Danielle, the judges are no longer capable of hearing flaws through their rose-colored earplugs.
“Amazeballs!” says Usher (which sounds about as natural as a mom saying it). “You’re so graceful. At your age to be able to have that type of control is just remarkable.”
“From a sheerly technical standpoint, it doesn’t get more proficient than that,” Adam says.
“You don’t have any weaknesses in your singing,” Blake agrees.
For Danielle’s pick, she gets pretty adorable and dedicates Jessica Andrews’ “Who I Am” to her parents and a friend. There is even a spotlight on her parents in the audience wiping tears from their eyes. Not to say pandering for votes, but…
“What that song really conjured for me is love for loved ones,” Usher says, and then literally lists every family member he could think of in 30 seconds.
“You are such a little star, and you are the cutest thing ever,” says Shakira. “You’re going to grow up to do great things.”
Team Adam: Amber Carrington
Amber Carrington selects Katy Perry’s “Firework,” which she dedicates to her best friends in Texas. Everyone, including a special video message from Katy Perry, agrees the song is incredibly challenging. This is a make it or break it performance for Amber.
You wouldn’t know it from the coaches’ reactions, but it’s kind of the latter. The pacing is off, it’s pitchy and it sounds like a struggle throughout. There are too many cringe-worthy moments for this point of the competition. (Her bangs look great, though. Maybe a tribute to Holly Tucker?)
“I think Adam’s going to have to add this song to his list of nightmare songs,” says Shakira, though she quickly adds, “but you did good.”
“You did an incredible job,” Adam tells her. “You sang it better than anyone ever has on this show.”
Adam selects Maroon 5’s “Sad” for Amber’s second song. Amber’s voice really shines in this one, and she punctuates her strong vocals with some very sweet falsettos. It definitely works better than “Firework,” and (bonus) the performance will probably lead to an increased number of downloads for the original. Way to work the system, Adam!
“I’m always blown away from you, but the fact that you can make one of Adam’s songs that beautiful? That’s something,” says Blake, adding, “I can’t wait to buy one of your records one day.”
“The fact that you sat here tonight and sang it better than I did, and did it justice makes me so happy,” says Adam.
Team Usher: Michelle Chamuel
Usher picks Zedd’s “Clarity” for Michelle Chamuel. Even though the audience can’t quite figure out how to clap (again), it’s high energy with strong vocals. It’s really hard not to love Michelle Chamuel.
“I don’t know what else I can say other than I love you,” says Adam.
“As an opposing team coach, you hope at some point somebody stumbles,” Blake admits. “But she never does.”
“I’m proud that you always bring your A game,” says Usher.
Michelle closes out the night with Tony winner Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” and (get this) dedicates it to Usher. Talk about causing awkward moments for all of the other contestants who didn’t dedicate their songs to their coaches!
Michelle really excels in the Cyndi Lauper world, and although it’s not quite “True Colors” level, it’s definitely up there. She throws in some high notes to elevate the performance to semi-finals level, and both her coach and the audience go wild.
“You are without a doubt one of my favorites in this competition, says Shakira. “You are on a permanent crescendo.”
“Thank you so much for dedicating that song to me,” says Usher. “My god, you’re the winner! You are medicine for the whole world.”
Although Usher has declared Michelle both the winner of The Voice and the cure for whatever ails you, there is still the matter of America’s votes to contend with. Once that tally is announced on Tuesday night, two of the somewhat evenly matched contestants will be headed for a second hometown visit — the forever kind — while the other three go on to share the stage with Cher during next week’s finals. It’s on.
So what do you think? Who got your vote?