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'The Voice' recap: Will Champlin's 'At Last' leads Top 8

Will Champlin performs "At Last" on Top 8

Will Champlin performs "At Last" on Top 8 night of "The Voice" season 5. (Nov. 25, 2013) Credit: NBC / Trae Patton

“The Voice” has reached the point in the season where the singers really get a chance to shine.

They get to do entire songs, with full production values, and they get to do group songs that help fans get to see them in a different setting. The group version of Ed Sheeran’s “Lego House,” featuring Matthew, James, Caroline and Jacquie actually made them all more likable.

Overall, it was a good night, with no major mistakes, though front-runner Matthew Schuler did stumble. Here’s how the night shaped up:

JAMES WOLPERT, “Somebody to Love”: Even if it wasn’t perfect, James Wolpert’s version of the Queen classic was memorable. Carson Daly compared the staging of the multiple Wolperts (“Adam and James making babies,” Christina Aguilera called them) to the Eminem Army of Slim Shadys from the MTV VMAs years ago. “You could sing in Queen,” coach Adam Levine says. Cee Lo Green called it one of the best performances ever on “The Voice.”

TESSANNE CHIN, “Underneath It All”: My worry for Tessanne is that her coach is making her seem too old to win, but this was a really lovely version of the No Doubt song. And her toasting break was truly inspired. Cee Lo says it made him “feel Irie.” Christina says she should do a reggae performance of “What a Girl Wants” next, which would be a great idea.

CAROLINE PENNELL, “Dog Days Are Over”: It’s a weird idea that she can’t keep doing what she was doing when her previous style was so effective for her. But that’s what the coaches apparently believe. Caroline adopted a more aggressive attitude on the Florence and the Machine song and pulled it off for the most part with some strong notes. But it’s still not as good as when she was, as James Earl Jones says, “totes adorbs.” “If you win nothing else, you win because you win my heart,” coach Cee Lo says.

COLE VOSBURY, “I Still Believe in You”: Another brilliant coaching move from Blake, making Cole strip back the Vince Gill song to just acoustic guitar and strings. It allowed his voice and his emotions to shine in a poignant way. “You went a guy who everyone knows can sing good to a lock to be here for a while,” coach Blake says.

MATTHEW SCHULER, “It’s Time”: I know it’s almost blasphemy to say, but there was too much drums in this Imagine Dragons song. It started out too heavy, overshadowing Matthew’s vocals, though he eventually regained control for the end. “This is a song of freedom,” coach Christina says. But it’s only OK and could it actually get the presumed front-runner in trouble?

WILL CHAMPLIN, “At Last”: Champlin comes into his own with the Etta James classic. “Don’t ever let technique take the place of emotion,” coach Adam advises Will. It works well, with Will showing off his warmest performance yet, without giving away any of his impressive precision. The combination, along with his Levine-esque makeover, makes him a much-stronger contender.

RAY BOUDREAUX, “Gimme Some Lovin’”: OK, the problem with putting so many other people on the stage with Ray is that it eventually becomes clear that they have way more energy than he does. “It’s like Robert Palmer up there,” coach Blake says. “That was cool.” Ray has a great voice and he handled the Spencer Davis Group classic well, but no matter how much Blake wants to talk about Ray’s “swag,” it just reminds us that he doesn’t quite have that yet.

JACQUIE LEE, “Who’s Lovin’ You”: Could that opening be any more coach Christina? Angry young Jacquie rocked the Smokey Robinson and The Miracles’ classic, letting go and getting out of her head the way she needs to in order to connect with the audience. “You gotta meet a nice boy, this is crazy,” said Adam, who believed her performance. “It’s like you swallowed an old lady or something,” Cee Lo said.

THE RANKINGS
1. Will Champlin
2. Cole Vosbury
3. Tessanne Chin
4. Jacquie Lee
5. James Wolpert
6. Matthew Schuler
7. Caroline Pennell
8. Ray Boudreaux

BOTTOM THREE Ray, Caroline, Tessanne (actually, Matthew instead of Tessanne)
WILL BE CUT Ray, Caroline
SHOULD BE CUT Ray, Caroline
ACTUALLY CUT Ray, Caroline

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