Four artists, spanning all music genres, will fight each week to defend their coveted seats on the show, as determined newcomers challenge them and try to knock them out of the competition. The singer who is the last standing at the end of the competition will earn the ultimate prize: the panel of industry experts becomes key players on the winner’s team, along with a record contract and a lucrative spot as one of iHeartRadio’s On the Verge artists.
The four artists currently ready to be challenged are: Latin artist Stephanie Zelaya, former X Factor UK alum James Graham, Hip Hop artist Sharaya J and new contender R&B singer Majeste Pearson. Will these artists be able to hold on to their spots in tonight’s competition? Find out as we live blog week 2.
Oh. The Four are singing a group number, “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA. Afterward we see them backstage at the iHeartRadio Wango Tango concert. Sharaya had to skip it because she was having a cancer treatment (!!!) She’s feeling good now, she says. I don’t think a singing show has EVER featured a contestant undergoing cancer treatment while competing on the show.
The first challenger is..
Whitney Reign – 25 – Issues by Julia Michaels – She’s an R&B singer who has opened up for some pretty big acts in Chicago. The labels took notice. She was signed to Def Jam. But eventually, she was dropped without releasing an album. THEN she found out she was pregnant. Her son has inspired her to pursue her dreams even harder. Diddy tries to start a chant for her thigh high boots. Lame. Whitney has attitude to spare and her singing is strong. She’s got some weird stage moves. That squatty thing she does. Hm. Meghan feels she’s a great entertainer. “I’m into it…so fierce.” Khaled loves the swag but wants her to go harder. Diddy thought the vocals were average. Meghan disagrees. The song choice didn’t show off her vocals. “DO YOU WANT THE SMOKE,” says Diddy. “THIS IS NOT THE ONE THIS IS THE TWO.” Yawn. I thought her vocals were OK. Meghan is right though, the song isn’t a vocal showcase. We hear the backstage chit chat. Meghan is all yes yes yes. The others not so much. But Meghan convinces them. Whitney gets 3 blue rings against chants of “let her through let her through.” THIS IS SO CONTRIVED. Whitney Challenges Stephanie Zelaya
Stephanie Zelaya – On The Floor by Jennifer Lopez – She’s performing for Guatemala, a volcanic eruption caused devastation. She sings a mostly Spanish language version of the Jlo hit. Stephanie knows how to work the stage. She’s a real pro. I can’t help but compare her to Lopez. She doesn’t connect.
Whitney Reign – Man’s Man’s Man’s World – Oh now she’s proving to the panel that she indeed can sing. Which is a thing I’m sure they knew in the first place. Can you say manufactured drama? The audience really seems to be on her side, as the were when Diddy and Khaled were dissing her. Khaled blows his annoying air horn.
Meghan feels proven right about Whitney and is rooting for her. Khaled calls Stephanie “amazing” but Whitney touched his soul. Diddy calls Stephanie a natural performer. Diddy felt Whitney’s second song to his core. The audience votes! Whitney Reign wins the challenge! Stephanie Zelaya is eliminated. Stephanie thanks the audience before she WALKS HER PATH WITH PRIDE! Yeah!
De’Stani Bryant – 16 – So Gone by Monica – An R&B and pop singer, her mom told her singing may not be her thing. But she practiced and practiced and practiced until she got better. Very bubbly and cute. Her singing is decent, but she’s too imitative at this point. She breaks out some rap verses. She’s weak in her upper register. Still green. The panel should send her home. “You made that so effortless…gifted,” said Meghan. Khaled says she’ll only improve. Diddy calls her a new young talent who NEEDS WORK. You have potential, he says. Yup. She got one blue ring (probably from Meghan) and then two RED. The audience boos. Diddy tells her not to be discouraged. “Do more work,” he says. De’ Stani is surprised she didn’t get to challenge. She feels stuck in the middle of Texas. She’s crying hard. Aw. They did her a favor, really. – Eliminated.
Stelle Amor – 25 – Mad World by Tears for Fears (Gary Jules version) – She’s from Nashville and calls herself a “soulful siren.” She adds, “I just want to bring sparkle to the world.” She lives with her boyfriend Dr. Dave. That’s what she called him! Hm. She’s a little kooky. Actually, she’s pretty annoying right off the bat, shimmying on stage declaring she’s free. Diddy doesn’t seem to be feeling it. She calls her genre “soulternative.” She’s just this side of a joke contestant. Her enunciation is mannered and off putting and her vocals are uneven. She becomes a little more interesting when she lets loose at the end. But she’s annoyingly pretentious. I’ll take a pass. “Sometimes your eyes truly terrify me…it was entertaining…I don’t know what I’m going to do yet,” says Meghan. Diddy loves her freedom. He’s speechless, really. Khaled says different sometimes is great. Ha. They can’t let her through. Whomever she challenged would be handed a freebie. One blue and two red wings. Khaled said yes! He wanted to see what she’d do next. Diddy felt uncomfortable. – Eliminated
James Farrow -25 – “Lean Back” – Terror Squad (The Four Version) – He’s a rapper. Bet he challenges the heretofore unchallenged contestant, Sharayah. He got a lot of traction on Youtube, opened for some well-known rappers. Khaled has his
prop kid with him for this round. James shouts to Sharayah, “You looking like a snack, girl.” He’s good. I can’t imagine him not getting through. Khaled like the song choice. He definitely wants to see another one. Diddy wasn’t as impressed. But he sees potential. James wants to battle! He’s here to eat! – 3 blue rings – James Challenges Sarayah
Sharaya J – Plain Jane – A$AP Ferg (The Four Version) – Her father was in a 90s hip hop group. He had a platinum record. Missy Elliott was her mentor. This girl has experience. A few months ago she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. She’s competing and doing chemo at the same time. She’s intense. She’s rapping right in James face. She’s blowing him right off the stage. This gal came to win. Don’t. Even. F*ck. With. Her. THE END. Khaled is going crazy with that horn.
James Farrow – Panda by Desiigner (The Four Version) – He’s good too, but Sharaya took it to another level. He can spit out rhymes pretty fast and with passion, but I don’t think this is a contest.
Meghan mentions that Sharaya “couldn’t hear at the beginning.” Oh. She made a mistake. I missed that. Meghan thinks she won. “Hip hop is about bars!” James interjects without being asked. He likes her dance moves but claims she has no bars. The audience is booing. Welp. He’s lost them. Khaled says she was fighting for her life. “If she don’t win I’m out.” Khaled felt James was disrespectful. Confidence is good, but he’s got to stay humble and grateful. James apologizes sort of. Diddy talks about falling on stage and recovering. What matters is how you recover. Oh boy. James is TOAAASSST. Sharaya J wins the challenge! James Farrow is eliminated. Sharaya promises to bring it without mistakes next time.
Skylar Dayne – 21 – Wolves by Selena Gomez – She’s from Curacao, a Caribbean island. She packed up all her stuff and moved to LA. She works in a cafe, presently, but is struggling right now. She seems like your typical Voice/American Idol contestant. I bet she’s auditioned for them. She has a pleasant pop voice and a pretty tone, but her range is limited. Meghan is jealous of her falsetto control. Huh, I thought her upper register was weak. Khaled felt the beginning was warming up. He wanted a high level of passion through the whole song. Diddy says the song is a “7”. Yeah, she seemed really nervous initially. She became more animated as the performance progressed. Skylar promises that her next song will be a “total flip” from her first song. Meghan gave her a yes. But Diddy and Khaled say NO. I looked at the clock and said. Hm. Too soon for another challenge. Heh. – Eliminated
Jesse Kramer – 21 – Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen (Jeff Buckley version) – From Nashville, Jesse says he’s looking around at The Four competition and nobody has soul. Hm. He grew up on church music. But he rebelled. He was into being a ROCK STAR in high school. It’s either church or rock n roll his parents said. He left home at 18. He accompanies himself on guitar, while he croons. He’s got a deep voice. Nice phrasing. He reminds me a little of Soundgarden or Pearl Jam. Oh. And American Idol’s Cade Foehner. Heh. He may have some of the same issues as Cade–striking stage presence with vocal limitations. Meghan is pleasantly surprised. She loves his guy liner. Diddy calls him a raw talent. He felt an Elvis vibration from him. Khaled dug it too. “Hallelujah!” he says. “That’s it!” – 3 blue rings! Jesse Challenges Majeste . Their styles aren’t anything alike, but the church backstory resonates for both. James would be a better fit, but he’s a front runner whom the producers surely want around for awhile.
Majeste Pearson – Stone Cold by Demi Lovato – Her dad is the preacher who was excommunicated from the southern baptists for rejecting hell. Her performance this week is more controlled than last. She becomes a little unwieldy at the end though. But she pours emotion into the song and the audience seems to love it.
Jesse Kramer – All Along the Watchtower by Bob Dylan (Jimi Hendrix version) – He’s a decent guitar player. If this were one of the other shows, he’d probably win the battle. He’s delivering an impassioned performance as well. However, Majeste’s vocals are better and I think that’s gonna count in her favor. He’s sounding pretty garbled here. His first performance was better.
Diddy likes both performances. We want everything, he says. He liked the diversity. He’s torn! Khaled liked that the battle was so mixed up genre wise. Oh. Nobody is picking a side. Interesting. It’s the closest vote of season 2, says Fergie. Jesse Kramer wins the challenge! Majeste Pearson is eliminated. Diddy feels Majeste had too many singing tricks, Jesse was more connected. Color me surprised. I really thought Majeste had that.
Where we stand now: Jesse Kramer (new member), James Graham (unchallenged tonight), Whitney Reign (new member) and Sharaya J (defending champion) are the new Four. Majeste Pearson and Stephanie Zelaya were unseated by Jesse and Whitney, respectively.