The semifinals of The Voice kicked off on Monday night, an episode that saw the remaining artists competing for America's vote, advised by coaches Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton.
The eight semifinalists each performed a song on his or her own, and a duet with another artist of a song by The Beatles.
Before the performances began, coach Blake called it lucky to have five of the remaining eight artists come from his team, while his on-air nemesis, Adam, lamented not having any team members left to perform.
Here are the highlights:
Team Blake's Andrew Sevener performed the Cody Johnson version of "Long Haired Country Boy," a rocking Texas country anthem that Andrew dedicated to the late grandfather of his ex-girlfriend. Both Kelly and John praised his performance, saying it felt like they were at an Andrew Sevener show.
Then Andrew and fellow Team Blake member Carter Lloyd Horne performed a duet of The Beatles song "Help."
Another country singer, Gyth Rigdon, covered Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A.," a song never before performed on The Voice. John pointed out the irony of Gyth singing that song the same night The Voice was celebrating The Beatles famed British invasion.
Next, Kim Cherry and Team Legend's Shawn Sounds performed The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby."
After Kim Cherry's performance last week, Kelly told her she'd like to hear more singing than what the rapper/singer hybrid had offered thus far. Kim obliged with her performance of "Together Again," a Janet Jackson song dedicated to her late mother, who passed away last year on Mother's Day. Choking back emotion at the beginning, Kim started out on piano before joining a dance team onstage. Kelly was impressed, telling Kim she would be awesome on Broadway.
Team Legend's Maelyn Jarmon and Team Kelly's Rod Stokes, who were pitted against each other during the live cross-battles, performed a duet of The Beatles classic, "Yesterday."
Carter Lloyd Horne performed a song requested by a lot of his fans: Hozier's "Take Me to Church," dedicated to Carter's nana, who bought him his first guitar pick. Kelly and John both thought Carter was a touch too "pitchy" at the beginning, but Blake thought it wouldn't hurt him in the long run because of his considerable fan base.
Rod Stokes performed a song that his coach, Kelly, described at the top of the show as "really special to him." Rod covered Vince Gill's "Go Rest High on That Mountain," a song Rod sang at his grandparents' funerals. Rod said it would mean so much to have that song put him in the finals. Afterwards, John said it wasn't his best technical performance, but "the emotion was as strong as you've ever had it."
Gyth and Dexter Roberts did a cover of "Hey Jude," by The Beatles.
Then came the three most highly regarded performances of the night:
The most streamed artist on The Voice is Maelyn Jarmon. Standing atop a stretch piano, she belted out a beautiful rendition of "Stay," by Rihanna. The coaches know the goods when they hear it: Adam declaring that Maelyn "should win The Voice" because she embodies what the show is about; Blake finding it harder and harder to find great things to say about Maelyn; Kelly calling it her favorite Maelyn performance because of her purposeful lack of control; and John praising Maelyn for choosing to take riskier options than most singers could within the song.
Another Voice heavyweight this season has been country singer Dexter Roberts. He made an unexpected song choice, eschewing yet another country tune in favor of the rock song "Here Without You," by 3 Doors Down. Kelly said it was smart doing something outside of the country genre, given that half of the final eight come from that background. But while you can take the man out of the country genre, you can't take the country genre out of the man -- Blake called Dexter's aggressive style one of his favorite country voices of all time.
They say "save the best for last," which might be why Houston middle school teacher Shawn Sounds brought the night to a close. He performed "A Song for You," as recorded by Donny Hathaway. Shawn said a lot of singers stay away from covering Hathaway because of his power and emotion, but that he wanted to take on the challenge being the last R&B/Soul singer left in the competition. He rose to the occasion, closing his performance with a piercing high note.
Afterward, Adam told Shawn he put on a clinic, calling it the craziest performance of the night, "which is probably why it's last." The performance made John and Kelly backtrack a little bit -- while they continued to praise Maelyn, they wondered if Shawn had heard that praise backstage and came out determined to top it. Kelly told Shawn it was her favorite performance of his, and John said that Shawn has given the best performances on the show the past two weeks.
The Voice returns Tuesday night with the results of America's vote at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.
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