"The Voice" will send two of its top five singers home on Tuesday night, eliminating them ahead of next week's season finale. But on Monday's semifinal performance show, which
All five contenders enjoyed tearful reunions. Some of them got keys to the city. Others enjoyed new recognition from their peers. (One of Danielle Bradbery's fellow high school students said she had no idea she could sing like that.) The Swon Brothers had a dual triumph, raking in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame "Rising Star" award (with a video tribute from Vince Gill) and a whole week named in their honor.
And us? We got to hear the contestants sing two songs apiece: one chosen by the contestant and dedicated to someone special and the other chosen by her or their coach.
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Team Blake's the Swon Brothers dedicated Bob Seger's "Turn the Page" to all the band members who've played with them in the past and the guys who do currently, who've given them "a backbone" through times flush and lean, they said. Usher and
Shelton's selection for the Swons was Kenny Loggins' "Danny's Song," on which one of them (Zach, I think, though I'm not entirely sure which is Zach and which Colton) played piano. Usher declared himself to have been -- Blake had called it -- "blown away" by their performance. Levine said the song was one of his favorites and that he'd enjoyed their version. And Shelton predicted that, looking back, they'd come to think of this night as the biggest they'd had on the show.
Sasha Allen, of Team Shakira, boldly elected to sing
The production values were no less razzmatazz for the song Shakira had picked for Allen, Donna Summers' "Bad Girls," which included dancers working their moves directly in front of each of the male judges and Allen's first name spelled out in glittery lights. "If there was any ambiguity about what your name was, that's been cleared up," Levine said. Usher said he'd found his "private show" thoroughly "entertaining." And
Shakira, who said Summers' album was her very first, called Allen's performance "magical." With "a little bit of guidance and a lot of work," she said, Allen had become a "phenomenal performer." At the very least, she'll no longer have to dream about seeing her name in lights.
For his team member Michelle Chamuel, Usher picked
Chamuel gave the props right back to Usher, dedicating Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," the final performance of the night, to her coach and his "incredible team." He'd grown to be "like family" to her, she said, and she really looked up to him. "Time after time you've been there for me," Chamuel told Usher, "and this one's for you." After Chamuel's riveting performance, Shakira called her "without a doubt one of my favorites in this competition" and said she was "on a permanent crescendo." Levine said she'd taken the performance "to the next level." And Usher enthused, "My God, you're the winner … medicine for the whole world."
Danielle Bradbery's coach selection, Tim McGraw's "Please Remember Me," was dubbed "amazeballs" by Usher and technically "proficient" by Levine. Coach Shelton lauded Bradbery's "precise, perfect pitch" and said she had no "weaknesses" in her voice.
Bradbery's own pick was Jessica Andrews' "Who I Am," which she dedicated to her parents and her best friend, Haley. She sang it to her family in the audience and managed to sound more connected to the lyrics than she sometimes does. (See Levine's loaded comment above about technical proficiency.) Shakira said she was "such a little star" and "the cutest thing ever" and predicted she'd be proud one day to say she knew Bradbery way back when. Shelton smartly used his time not to praise Bradbery's voice, but to soften up her image, calling her "unaffected," "every bit the girl you hope she is," and someone who "wants this so bad" and is "working so hard."
Levine's answer to Bradbery, Amber Carrington, dedicated her first song,
In fact, the coolest thing for Carrington, Levine and the rest of us actually came later in the evening, when she tackled Maroon 5's "Sad," and made her coach very happy. It was beautiful, emotional, perhaps my favorite performance of the night. Shelton felt it, too. "I don't think you've gotten the recognition for how emotional you are when you perform," he said, "and it's beautiful."
Levine said that the fact that she'd sung his song "better than I did and did it such justice makes me so happy … I'm so overjoyed right now I don't even care about anything else. That was incredible."
"Incredible" may be way overused on "The Voice," as is "amazing," but some of these performers are worthy of high praise indeed. I'm picking Carrington, Bradbery and Chamuel as my top three, but really, all top five are still contenders. Who do you think will go home?