Sometimes, it’s easy to take “The Voice” for granted, especially when it’s bringing the idea of “How can I miss you when you won’t go away?” to life.
But Top 8 night was so packed with great performances that it became obvious why the show is pounding that other singing competition. Somehow, they will send three singers home tonight, any of whom could probably out-sing this season’s “American Idol.”
And to distract us from the tension of a week where they will cut nearly half of their contestants there was Adam Levine’s platinum blond hair.
“I thought I’d look like Shakira,” joked the newly blond Levine. “I feel like a futuristic cyborg.”
He explained the one thing that made him question going blond was the reaction of Blake Shelton.
“That’s Adam?” joked Shelton, who later called him Miley. “I thought Meg Ryan was sitting in.”
Here’s how the Top 8 stacked up:
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Josh Kaufman, “I Can’t Make You Love Me”: There wasn’t any gimmickry in Kaufman’s modernization of the Bonnie Raitt classic, just a stunning performance. He gave the song a neo-soul edge, moving effortlessly from falsetto to power notes in a way that felt natural and heartfelt. “That was probably as perfect a performance as I’ve seen on this show in seven seasons,” Shelton said. “It had magic all over it.” Shelton was exactly right.
Sisaundra Lewis, “River Deep, Mountain High”: Technically, Sisaundra is the best singer of the season, perhaps in the show’s history. So why will she likely go home tonight? Well, it’s not because of her performance of the Ike & Tina Turner classic, a number she used to perform when she backed up Celine Dion. It’s a great arrangement -- starting off like gangbusters, then slowing down in the middle so she can pick up steam again. “Your vocal ability is astonishing,” Shakira said. “You’re amazing.” Levine said it was a great song choice for her. “It does reflect a strength in you,” he said. “It’s pretty electric in here.”
Christina Grimmie, “How to Love”: Following her brilliant reworking of a Drake song as an R&B ballad by slowing down another rapper’s hit worried Grimmie, but Coach Levine convinced her of the music industry rule. If something works, do it again. Her twisting of the Lil Wayne song as a Whitney Houston ballad, including a gorgeous final run, wasn’t quite organic, but it was pretty good. “That was something huge,” Shakira said. “Your voice is just insane.” Levine was thrilled. “I don’t think anyone’s ever heard Lil Wayne like that before,” he said. “You created a new thing.”
Kristen Merlin, “I Drive Your Truck”: It’s weird how only Kristen Merlin has sound issues on the show. This time, the mix of the strings were too high on the Lee Brice song compared to her tender vocals at the beginning. However, it worked out the end, as her powerful vocals took hold to hammer home the emotional song. “That’s a tough song,” Shelton said. “You’ve made a believer out of me. You just keeping better and better every week.” Her coach was thrilled. “This was truly transcendent,” Shakira said. “You were unbelievable.”
Kat Perkins, “Get Lucky”: Did we need a heavy metal version of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”? Apparently, Kat thinks so. This was a gutsy choice, compounded by the fire pots and the punishing arrangement. It’s brave, though not exactly likable with all the screaming of a sleek song. It worked for her, though. Usher said he wished he could bang his head. “We knew we had to go big,” Levine said.
Delvin Choice, “I Believe I Can Fly”: After breaking down in the rehearsals of the R. Kelly song, it becomes clear that the song is important to him. However, his version is so close to the original that there isn’t enough of Delvin in it. “That was as good as it gets on this show,” Shelton said, before likening his coach Levine to Susan Powter. Levine tries to inject some reality, telling him that he should be satisfied with his performance no matter what happens in the competition. “There is not a better song for you to have done at this moment,” Levine said. “I’m so happy for you.”
Jake Worthington, “Hillbilly Deluxe”: He did a nice job on the Brooks and Dunn song, showing off what he calls his “redneck side.” It’s all part of his charm offensive, which should get him to the next round. “You’re so damn cool man,” Levine said. “You’re so much cooler than Blake.” His coach Shelton said it was a big step for young Jake. “Tonight, you introduced America to Jake the Artist,” Shelton said.
Audra McLaughlin, “Forgive”: The usually dependable country singer kind of fell apart on the Rebecca Lynn Howard song. Her vocal was messy, hitting the big notes but not the smaller ones. Her diction was oddly murky. The coaches were kind, but measured. “Vocally, I think you’re unstoppable,” Shakira said. “I think it’s going to be a really good night for you,” Shelton said, but he’s probably wrong.
BOTTOM FOUR: Jake, Audra, Sisaundra, Delvin (actually Audra, Sisaundra, Delvin, Kat)
WILL BE ELIMINATED: Audra, Sisaundra, Delvin
SHOULD BE ELIMINATED: Audra, Delvin, Jake
ACTUALLY ELIMINATED: Audra, Sisaundra, Delvin