‘The Voice’: Usher Debuts “Good Kisser” During Semifinals
It’s the semifinals on The Voice, and Monday night’s episode (May 12) has everything: Adam Levine furthering his style breakdown by matching his Hawaiian shirt with his tattoo. Usher performing the live debut of a song (and dancing, obviously). Blake Shelton dishing out two more accurate comparisons for Adam’s hair (incidentally, they are Sharon Stone and Barney Rubble). Shakira wearing a crown. Adam continuing the totally
real produced rivalry bromance with Blake by dumping manure on Blake’s some prop truck. Mark Wahlberg looking as bored as possible while talking about “Dinobots” while promoting the new Transformers movie in the audience. Five contestants being overshadowed by all the madness.
With just three of the five contestants advancing to next week’s finals, there is no room for error on either the dedication performance or the coach’s pick. Luckily, there is lots of room for oversized cowboy hats, balloon drops and a set based on the “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” video. Get ready.
Kicking off the show is Usher’s world premiere performance of “Good Kisser.” He breaks a (totally sexy) sweat before making it to the first chorus, and surrounds himself with some equally talented dancers (whose dress code was apparently “pants optional”).
Team Shakira – Kristen Merlin
Dedication: Kristen Merlin performs Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder & Lead,” dedicating the upbeat performance to her hometown. She earns huge cheers from the live audience, and some nice snaps from Miranda’s hubby.
“Miranda sings that in a different way,” says Blake. “She’s going to shoot the guy and she’s like mad. You’re smiling about killing the guy. Two different approaches, but it worked for you.”
“You absolutely rocked the stage,” says Shakira. “You also represent all of the people that nobody believes that they can make it as far as you have. Believe me, a lot of people didn’t think that you would get this far.” Um… thank you?
Coach Pick: Steering her contestant away from country and into the folk world, Shakira assigns Jewel’s “Foolish Games.” Kristen hits some shaky notes when she tries to put her own spin on it, but it’s a lovely performance on the whole.
“You’ve got an incredible young Cuban fire hot ball over here just continuing to push you in the right direction,” says Usher of Kristen’s Colombian coach.
“You give people chills,” says Shakira. “The way you narrate stories, you’re so emotional.” Pointing out Usher’s consistently unsteady grasp on geography, Shakira later quips, “If I’m from Cuba, he’s from the great state of Nashville.”
Team Usher – Josh Kaufman
Dedication: Josh Kaufman removes his fedora to sing John Legend’s “All Of Me” to his family. His vocals are undeniably beautiful, and he effortlessly hits the high notes during the chorus.
“There’s no question to me that you’re going to be in the finale,” says Blake, totally jinxing Josh. “You bring a lot of credibility to the show.”
“Hard work that goes into what Josh has created is just a story unfolding for the entire world to see,” says Usher. “To be able to dedicate that moment to your wife and your family, I’m happy that you had it, and I’m happy that America got a chance to see it.”
Coach Pick: Usher chooses OneRepublic’s “Love Runs Out” for Josh. It’s nice to hear a fast-paced song from him, though it remains to be seen if this performance will resonate enough with the audience to win votes.
“He’s got some Robert Palmer when he rocks out like that,” says Blake.
“You came out here and you left it all on the stage. You brought the audience into it,” says Usher.
Team Adam – Kat Perkins
Dedication: Kat Perkins is certainly banking that children worldwide will get in on the voting action when she performs “Let It Go” from Frozen (with more of a Demi Lovato lean than Idina Menzel). Kat dedicates the performance to the children she nannied for, who are there to watch. Although even the kids must notice that Kat doesn’t quite give an Adele Dazeem-worthy performance, the coaches are blissfully unaware.
“This song allowed you to show off another side of yours,” says Shakira.
“As far as vocals are concerned, it does not get better than Kat Perkins,” says Adam. “No one has been more consistent,” he adds of the twice-Instant Saved Kat.
Coach Pick: There is a lot of smoke and mirrors going on when Kat Perkins sings Sia’s “Chandelier.” But literally: a stage filled with a whole lot of actual smoke, and a very literal interpretation of the song’s title with mirrored chandeliers. “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” video, anyone? Kat’s stage presence is on point, but it is a mixed bag of vocal moments. The coaches, naturally, only choose to acknowledge the good moments.
“I really think that you do everything right,” says Blake.
“She is, hands down, one of the best singers we’ve honestly ever had,” says Adam. “This girl deserves to be here next week.”
Team Adam – Christina Grimmie
Dedication: Although Christina Grimmie has been pursuing music in California for two years, she dedicates fun.’s “Some Nights” to her hometown in New Jersey. There are breathless moments, but overall, the energetic performance is Grimmie-tastic. Someone in production decides it’s truly a winning performance, and drops the balloons typically reserved for the post-Voice winner announcement when she finishes.
“You’re so creative,” says Shakira, playing with the balloons.
“I’m just so proud of my team, because you’re sticking to your guns and you’re doing what you love,” says Adam.
Then the coaches play with the balloons like they are the most fascinating objects on earth. It’s very baby’s first visit to a ball pit, and it’s glorious.
Coach Pick: Adam brings it into risky territory for Christina Grimmie, when he has her use a vocoder on Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek.” Though he explains how the device adds harmonies without changing her lead vocal, it makes for a tough performance to judge. She does replace the synthetic harmonies with actual humans early on, however, and the performance finally comes together.
“I wasn’t connected as much until you actually started to sing without the vocoder,” says Usher.
Adam defends his contestant and their collective choice to take the performance risk. “We’re sick of the things that people do all the time on this show. We’ve had a little bit of a hard time with the winners of the show, kind of seeing them through to the end and beyond the show,” he says. “I don’t think we want to sit here and do karaoke.” Fight, fight, fight!
Team Blake – Jake Worthington
Dedication: The ever-charming Jake Worthington dedicates Waylon Jennings’ “Good Ol’ Boys” (yes, the Dukes of Hazzard theme song) to his friends back home. Jake delivers a typically solid performance, though it’s lacking a wow factor.
“Blake has won with country before, and I understand it could happen to him again based on performance like this,” says Usher.
“I couldn’t be more proud of that performance and the fact that you did that song,” says Blake. “You’re the real deal.”
Coach Pick: With the coveted closing slot of the semifinals, Jake sings the Bryan Adams’ and Jason Aldeanversion of “Heaven.” It’s as far of a departure as he’s made from his country track, but the acoustic pop song fits well with his vocals.
“We really haven’t seen anything else other than country music,” says Adam. “You were awesome.”
“I am so proud of you, Jake,” says Blake. “I would be proud to share this stage with you every night for the rest of my life.” Move over, Adam, there’s a new bromance brewing!
Two contestants, and at least one coach will be knocked out on tonight’s show. The finals are no fun without a sad coach sitting idle, after all. Which contestant are you ready to bid farewell?